Monday, September 22, 2008

Embracing My Inner Mutant

I tend to read a lot of horror authors' blogs. Brian Keene, Wrath James White, J.F.Gonzalez, Shaun Hutson, Bob Ford, Kelli Dunlap, Nate Southard. Whichever ones I find, I read on a regular basis. I do this for a few reasons. 1. It's another way that I get to play the "How to avoid writing" game. 2. I get insight into other writer's thoughts and ideas on certain issues. 3. I have no life.

A while back I was perusing J.F. Gonzalez' blog. He had an interesting one posted with the title Embrace Your Inner Mutant. The blog was about the fact that Gonzalez had noticed that when you see people reading in coffee shops, planes, restaurants, or any other public place, you never see them reading books by mid-list authors. After reading the article I noticed that it's true. Anyone I see reading in public the authors are almost always Danielle Steele, Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, and so on. If anyone is reading horror or suspense, it's Stephen King or Dean Koontz. This got me to thinking about how I myself fell in love with mid-list authors.

I remember back when I was about nine or ten, I began to read Hardy Boys. My brother had a huge collection of the old blue hardcovers in his room that were given to him by our uncle. My brother never read them. So I, being both a fan of reading and mystery, took possession of them and devoured them. I read them all a minimum of three times each, while also adding to my brother's collection with those I found at garage sales and used book stores.

When I was eleven, my mother introduced me to Stephen King. I'm still not quite sure why since my mother is an avid mystery reader and hates horror or anything else that is remotely violent. She reads the nicer mysteries with cute titles like "A is for Alibi." All I remember is being at a literacy council booksale (my mother was the president of the literacy council in my hometown for quite a few years, an organization dedicated to teaching illiterate adults how to read) with her and she picked up a copy of Stephen King's "The Dead Zone" and said that she thought I would like it and bought it for me.

She was right. I loved it. I read it as fast as i could. I Then discovered that my uncle (the same one who gave my brother the Hardy Boys books) was also a fan of King. I then read The Dark-Half, The Shining, Pet Semetary, The Stand, and every other King book I found. That was when I first discovered my love for horror.

Then when I was about thirteen, I was in a used bookstore spending my hard earned money I got from mowing lawns on a huge pile of King books when the clerk looked at the pile and said "If you like Stephen King, you'll love Dean Koontz." Funny how she pointed me to Dean Koontz and not a mid-list horror author. Kind of proves exactly what Gonzalez was saying. But, I began to read Koontz' work and fell in love with that.

Then I discovered John Saul when I was about fourteen or fifteen. It was also at this time that I began to seriously write (I had attempted writing at a younger age, but everything I wrote were extremely bad rip-offs of Hardy Boy books). I turned out page after page of crap. Everything I wrote was horrible rip-offs of these three authors I was currently reading. I wrote two novels around this point in my life. One was a rip-off of the Dead Zone, and the other was a really bad, longer version of the Stephen King story "Sometimes They Come Back." But at least I was trying.

I had also never heard of the small press at this point. I had stupidly sent these novels I had written to places like Random House. I had no agent (who in their right mind would represent a fifteen year old who thought he was the next Stephen King?) so I just sent them directly to the publishers myself. And got a nice big pile of rejection slips for my trouble.

finally, at the age of eighteen, I discovered Douglas Clegg, and thus discovered Leisure's line of horror novels. And this is when my love affair with mid-list authors began. I discovered Clegg, Masterton, Lee, Hoffman, Hutson, and many others. I don't even read King anymore. I barely read Koontz and Saul these days. I've got tons of mid-list author books I've got in my "to-be-read" pile (and I mean tons....I spend a few hundred bucks a month on books). And I proudly read them in coffee shops, restaurants, planes, at work, or any other public place I happen to be in. I embrace my inner mutant, and I proudly tell everyone around me about these books to spread the word and hopefully help make my favourite authors that much more popular. And who knows? Hopefully one day, I'll be one of those mid-list authors....

Writing updates: Well, due to my recent computer crash, I have restarted "Hatred." I'm halfway through the first chapter. We'll see if it's better the second time around. I'm about ready to give up on "Terror Eyes." I think I need help to figure out exactly what is wrong with this story. And, I'm still waiting to hear back about my story "The Demon Inside Her." If it gets accepted, it will be my first published story. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Well, that's it for now.



Sunday, September 14, 2008

Book Reviews

Okay, I don't normally do book reviews here, but I've read many books over the last few weeks (one of the joys of being a security guard, it gives me lots of time to read and write) that I felt the need to discuss them. Plus, since I've been working a hell of a lot lately, there's not much else going on in my life to talk about here are the books I've read over the last two weeks.

1. Lucy's Child by Shaun Hutson: I've read many reviews that claim Shaun Hutson as the master of shock horror. I disagree with this statement because I don't find him all that shocking. I do however find that he manages to create very suspensful situations and unique story lines. I loved this book. Shaun Hutson's characterization is second only to Brian Keene.

2. The Minotauress by Edward Lee: This was a double bonus as the book included the novella The Horncranker. I enjoyed both stories very much, although throughout the Minotauress I kept wandering when the beast was finally going to show up. But I was promised lots of nastiness and this book delivered. Edward Lee never disappoints me.

3. His Pain by Wrath James White: I just started reading Wrath James White a few months ago and I am quickly becoming a big fan. His Pain isn't necessarily a horror story (in my opinion) but there are a few nasty scenes in it and it is probably the most original story I have ever read. This is definitely worth reading and I can't wait to get my hands on Wrath's latest book, Population Zero.

4. Just Like Hell by Nathan Southard: I can't remember where I first heard the name Nathan Southard, but I felt compelled to buy a copy of his novella Just Like Hell. It's very short (about 98 pages) and is a very small book (kinda cute, really). I read it in one sitting and loved it. It kick starts right into the story and doesn't quit until the last page. Nathan leaves us no room to breathe in this story. I just couldn't put it down. I believe this is his first published book, and I hope there are lots more to come. I'm definitely becoming a big fan of Nathan's.

5. Shifters by Edward Lee and John Pelan: A really cool story with good characterization. I haven't read everything by Lee, but I've read a lot of his work and I have never been disappointed by one of his books. The alien twists at the end kind of get annoying after a while, but the stories themselves are phenomenal. Ed Lee is definitely the King of Hardcore Horror.

6. Jigsaw by Gord Rollo: It's nice to see a fellow Canadian horror author doing well for himself. I enjoyed this new take on the Frankenstein theme. Even though it is a theme that's been used before, I found this one very original and the plot kept interested. This book is over 300 pages, and I read it in a day. 'nuff said.

7. The Bighead by Edward Lee: Yes, I've been reading lotrs of Lee lately. This is my second go around with The Bighead and it's as good as I remembered it. This is another one I read it a single day and it is over 300 pages. It's sick, disgusting, and funny. I highly recommend this book.

8. Ghostwalk by Brian Keene: Keene is currently my favourite author. I have yet to find an author who creates real characters as well as he does .Ghostwalk is no exception. It is kind of a sequel to Dark Hollow, but you don't need to read it to enjoy Ghostwalk. It will enhance your enjoyment of the book, so I do recommend reading Dark Hollow first. Keene has very original stories, good charaterization. The best thing about Keene is his dedication to his fans. He is offering a sequel to his novel Conquerer Worms absolutely free on his website, just to say thank you to his fans. I recommend any of Keene's work, but my personal favourite is Ghoul.

I'm sure there's more, but that's all I can remember off the top of my head.

Writing updates: Since my computer crashed this week and I had nothing on back-up disk, everything I've been working on is gone, so it's back to the drawing board for my book Hatred and the story "She". I do have "Terror Eyes" printed out because it's in the editing stages, but I can't get it the way I want it. Something's not right and I can't figure out what it is.

Okay, that's everything for now.

Until next time,