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It must be very easy to write scary stories and to entertain and move on. I love those books. I like reading and having an adventure and then going on to a new book. Sometimes, I read a book and it haunts me in some ways. I can't get it out of my head. Ira Levin's novels haunt me. Robert McCammon's Swan Song haunts me. I think that it's because I know there is more to the story and yet, they don''t tell it. They leave me hanging and wondering about the characters. But Swan Song also digs into some weighty issues about how we judge others, who people are beneath the surface, love, bravery, sacrifice and the nature of jealousy and evil.
I long to write just a scary book, but I can't seem to get there. In the zombie series, Z is For Zombie, I tackled the right to die by choice, judgement, ethics,and maternal love. I went so deep into some theme that I began to wonder what my story was all about. Yes, there were zombies, but they were a vehicle for so much more I wanted to tell. In Alice and Friends, I thought it was a book about a girl being kidnapped and her struggles, but it is about family and shades of badness and I was reminded about Dr. Frankenstein and the way his creature turned on him. In other words, the book became about more than what was on the surface. Smooth, which is in the works now, started as a book about a creepy town changing and a few heroes trying to do the right things, but the right things became muddled and the book is evolving into something else. It is about the sheer strength of people and the sacrifices they will make and love and bravery.
I have found that each book I write become more than I planned and if asked what a book is about, when obviously it is horror, my answer is something like "It is about hope. Or Love. Or fortitude, Family. Lonliness. Isolation." Maybe that is why we write and read horror. In the midst of fear and dread, there seems to be another message of something bigger. Is it that way in real life? I don't know, but in the wake of recent tragedies, there are heroes involved. Instead of caring about the idiots doing the killings and what is wrong with them, and instead of only honoring the victims, I would like to know the stories about the heroes. What horror did some face and then make wonderful, selfless choices and serve a higher cause?
Again, I am left to wonder.
But I feel, if we can find the hidden heroism and sacrifice, then we reach the real human spirit and who we really are as a species.
Now is the time we make promises we'll never keep and get ideas to start something or stop it. I think very little stick to a plan. This year, I am not promising myself anything huge. Last year, in 9 months, I managed to get 15 books out that I had in manuscript, handwritten form (2 short story collections, a 9 book series about zombies,2 vampyre/westerns and two horror novels) That is pretty much a big deal to be that prolific! Most are both e-reader form or in paperbacks and the rest are about to go paperbacks as well.
What do I worry about? Like any writers, I worry and wonder if the next novel is in me. Will I have ideas and get the books written? I have three on the burners right now. I have a good 3-4 in my head as ideas. I may even write another zombie book like my nephew wants me to (he picked the title and ideas so TY to Harrison for his brilliant ideas) I also am helping edit an amazing short story collection by Nic Hatfield and May collaborate with him on an idea he has for a book that is truly the next HUGE book. I worry that I can't do it justice as it is bigger than me by far!
I plan to release at least 7 books this next year. I am so thankful I am happy to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week doing this.
I want to pay more attention to the writing of some friends who are amazing writers: Graham Masterton, Joe McKinny, Kealan Patrick Burke, Rhiannon Frater, Bowie Ibarra, and Jason Christie. I promise and resolve I will be as gracious as they are and work as hard as they do.I will thank my copy editor more and praise my agent. I will behave and do as my PR agent says.13 is my number and in 2013, i resolve to be a better writer. And I resolve to try to write something that isn';t splatter punk or cannibalistic (Lord how I try not to go to those themes but do so anyway).
I resolve to write because it's what I do.
I hope the rest follows. I don;t need to get rich or famous from writing, but I do need to entertain and scare the pants off all I can!
Happy New Years!
I was sent an e-mail today with pictures of Wal-Mart shoppers that are funny. I know some people will say it is bad to make fun of them. These people also say it is terrible to belittle and make fun of other people in varied situations. I think this...if people didn't put themselves out there in such silly situations (or outfits or looks) then we would not laugh. I don't laugh at fat people for being fat. I laugh if one wears short shorts and has on a halter because that is such a silly display. It's the display that is so funny!
I am a horror writer. So...let's say I drive by a car wreck and see a person decapitated and the head lands atop a post. If some one yells "Heads up", yes, I would laugh. If I knew the person who was killed and saw it happen, I would not laugh and be horrified. It is when the situation is personal that it is no longer humourous and does that not depend on individuals? That's my point.Also, some in some jobs (morticians, cops, doctors, etc.) we have to laugh and find the humour or it drives us crazy to see the horror that man enacts. As a horror writer, death and weirdness is very real to me and yes, I have to find humour or have a pretty strong gut for it. But it is my choice to write what I write as it is a cop's choice to do what he does...so why do it? Demand. There is a demand for what we deliver.
I am to the point in my life that there are many things I have to laugh at.
I find it funny how people use religion or politics or anything to further their cause. When students wrote papers for the college class in Literature I taught, I warned them to not use the Bible as a reference to "prove" anything as it is interpretation and not scientifically based. The Bible does have some good life lessons and helpful advice and it it aligns with some scientific history, but to say it says "XYZ" is interpretation. Also, as written, each word may have a deeper meaning. In other words, people use it to further their own ideals but it doesn't make them FACT.
There is a part that is about loving thy neighbor. Well, I can be nice to my neighbor, but if they are a child molester, you can bet I don't love them, will laugh if they do funny things, and if they come near my child, I will let them meet Mr. .38 Special! See how I can take this and make it my own personal take? I say I can do that BUT _____________. Isn't that how we all are? We try to be one way but when things are about us, they change. No matter what the event or situation, we personalize it OR we remove ourselves.
I am beginning to theorize that people who are so about themselves and being such "great people who do no wrong or are forgiven" are really psychologically inept. It just isn't healthy at all and leads to unconscious or conscious acts of very evil deeds. If we think we are "saved" after certain requirements then are we free to act poorly? Some think so and I feel these are the ones behaving the worst. On the other hand, when we act badly based on our own personal evaluations, at least we are honest and acting in a psychologically beneficially manner.
I might giggle at the Wal-Mart people and laugh at people who show themselves as victims (etc) and I do it aside, not where they could see it and be hurt, but I don't hurt children. I don't destroy marriages, covet, steal, lie, cheat or murder. I am sarcastic, a horror writer, profane in speech, selfish, and vindictive at times. Judge me. I would rather be how I am than be the former, and when anyone says the Bible doesn't distinguish, I say..."use a reference that is accepted and not interpreted" and base your judgement on MY personal mind set.
Until then, I will find the humour in a car wreck or a tree falling on a house or a cannibal. It's how I survive the world....finding the funny parts in horrific tales.
I write every day, 7 days a week. Last weekend, I took off F-S for a family break road trip to visit my family and to attend the Four States Fair with my husband and son. I was so sad to see that the art exhibit was 1/4 the size as it was years before and I didn't see the Home Ec competition! It's not the same when the old, traditional parts are missing from a fair. On the Ferris wheel, I had this full story come to me (Laymon-like) and my son frowned because even on the ride, I was "working". I felt as if the break was well deserved and a lot of fun for us.
Besides my regular writing (number 7 in the Z series is about to be released), I have been busy! I have been working with my wonderful agent on an audio book deal and a video. I had no idea how popular audio books are! My copy editor ran over the Z wiki and said it was good with a few tweaks and she is wading through G's Terms and then the rest of the series so we'll have a re-release of all books in a second edition after she is finished and okays them. I am working with some fine folks across the pond and they have given me some great ideas and feedback.
In each review I get, I see the same things...that my writing is very "character driven" and I never tire of hearing that. I don't know if readers always want that and many do prefer the plot driven styles, but my brand is "character driven" all the way. Someone once said there are only ten stories in the world and we all retell them over and over in new ways. That may be true. But I think the human mind is the true, uncharted territory, far more intricate and interesting than outer space. I am thrilled that people enjoy the characters of the Z series and have chosen favorites and want to know what they do and say next!
People ask me if writing is difficult. Ummm. Yes. Imagine I have you 15 blank pages and tell you the topic is zombies, to fill them up right then, and to make me love every word. Oh, and develop characters that are memorable, a good story, and transport my mind to another place. While you are at it, make me think and debate some issue but hide it so I don't know. Easy? Nope. That is my world every day. I can do that. I am more in awe of someone who can look at a car engine and make sense of it, or drive in downtown Dallas, or climb a mountain without going splat. I think we all can be amazed by those who do things we can't imagine doing ourselves. When I got my scuba diving certification, I couldn't imagine doing what I did, and yet, I did it all; failure was not an option. We can do many things when we get a plan, have a desire to succeed, and dive (or follow) the plan.
What is the connection here? I work hard. I write even while I don't know I am writing. Not everyone can do all things, Success isn't easy. See? There is a theme here. If you know someone in the arts area (music, art, acting) be supportive because I am positive, they are doing something that some can't do and they work hard to entertain. Entering a jar of pickled peaches in a fair isn't the greatest accomplishment, right? Wrong. How did that person learn to can peaches? What was the plan? How did it turn out? In each jar of pickles, there is a wonderful story involved that may never be told, but I can bet there is an interesting character sketch there. I hope more people share art and peaches with fairs and other people and I hope they tell the stories of how they accomplished their tasks. I hope people continue to amaze me.
Mostly, I just hope.
A short update on my interesting life.
Yes, the second in the Vampyre/western series is available and I want to add that I am humbled and honored by the sales I have seen for my books.
I do have at least 3 more planned for this series, but I may have to stop and add a new zombie book to the other series because we all seem to miss Beth, Kim, Len and the gang.
My husband gave me a pedicure and back rubs every night for last 2 weeks and I have been mega-relaxed. I have been able to type much better with my matching Aqua/lime glitter fingernails and loose muscles. I never knew that this color was perfect for typing!
On the other hand, the air condon is on the blitz and I don't know how people can stand this heat. I am miserable. Think, back in the 1880s, which I was just writing about, a man wore a long sleeved shirt, a vest, jacket, pants, etc. In August heat. The women wore hoops, petticoats and long dresses and it must have been unreal although they were used to the heat. I think many people who died did so of heat stroke, I read somewhere....wish I had kept the article....that going back in time would present many problems beyond the obvious. Yes, there would be disease and all...things we are not used to, and the heat and cold...yes...but a major issue, if I can be so crude, would be that people smelled rank. They sweated and wore those heavy, sweaty clothing for months without washing them and they didn't bathe often...no deodorant...the scent must have been horrible. When the cowboys came to rent a whore (for a dollar), they often had little sheets or pads of leather to catch the horse manure and nastiness from their boots (On the bed as they didn't take off their boots but just dropped trousers). I think that the smell of those men half undressing would make a maggot vomit. The women didn't smell any better. I am going on about this, but if one thinks about the things like this, it is amazing to think of how now people shower daily or more, have air con, wear deodorant and douse themselves in perfume. I read another article that stated that the divorce rate is high now because we can't smell one another and pick mates according to phermones and natural scents.
Think on that.
People's strongest memory sense is the sense of smell. Babies know the scent of their mother's nipples even. So, we have eliminated one big way we picked mates and chose who was suited to us. We have lost this simple but effective tool for picking people on Love.com with a few questions and a picture; no wonder marriages fail! I don't suggest sniffing people to find a mate, but....it's something to consider.
Ok..off to shower...my husband is looking at me with love in his eyes and I stink.
Catt Dahman lives in Texas with her Husband, son, 4 cats (Ollie, T.S. Eliot, and Procol, and a dog named Levi. Catt writes horror, thrillers, spooky stories, and westerns.