Thursday, November 17, 2011

Getting Back To Business

A quick explanation for my recent "vacation": I got a new job. And despite the fact that I can work from home with this new job, I found my schedule torn asunder by appointments and training sessions. When I wasn't working, I was exhausted and I let the creative side of my life fall apart. Temporarily, at least. Things are settling down and I'm getting into a routine. Let's hear it for discipline... yay!

So here I am, half way through NaNoWriMo and ready to tackle something with my imagination.

While I plan the sequel to my fantasy "Children of Aerthwheel," I am going to switch gears a bit and begin work on what I imagine will be a cut-throat horror project. To give you an idea of what I'm hoping to achieve with this other novel, let me cite a few of my favorite horror pieces and tell you why they scare the bejeezus out of me.

"The Mist" by Stephen King

One of my favorite novellas by Stephen King, "The Mist" is the story of a group of strangers stranded in a convenience store while Lovecraftian creatures wreak havoc in the mysterious haze outside. Frank Darabont adapted this story to film and did a wonderful job of emphasizing what I think is one of Stephen King's greatest gifts: the ability to stir tension amongst strangers and divide humanity in the face of horrible circumstances. The monsters in "The Mist" are terrible; but sometimes, the greatest monsters are the ones who look like us.

"They Live" by John Carpenter

I'll admit, the fact that this movie features Rowdy Roddy Piper in a seemingly serious role can sometimes confuse a person. But it works, okay? Trust me. This is John Carpenter's take on the notion of Big Brother, except we aren't exactly being watched by humans. I wouldn't be surprised if there are conspiracy theorists who claim this film is a documentary. Though this isn't as frightening as some of my other picks, the idea itself is creepy enough. When I saw this as a teenager, I had to get my hands on a pair of sunglasses. You know, just in case.

"I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson

This is the quintessential vampire/zombie infestation novel. Richard Matheson, who I consider to be the grandfather of modern horror, gives us a story of ultimate isolation. His protagonist, Robert Neville, is the last human alive in a world filled with vampires. Matheson's depiction of Neville's mental state is superb, ranging from near psychosis to logical reasoning. If you think you like vampires and you haven't read this book, do it now. Stop reading this post, go buy the book on Amazon, and read it as soon as you can. Also, there are tons of movies based on this book; none of them are as complex as the novel.

"The Thing" by John Carpenter

My all-time favorite horror film, "The Thing" is based on the equally-excellent short story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr. This film, just like the story that inspired it, has all the elements that create perfect horror. We have characters who are isolated from the rest of civilization; they face a creature that is impossible to identify and capture; the relationships amongst the characters are dynamic and are eventually pushed to the breaking point by sheer paranoia. John Carpenter's version is slightly different than the original story, but only in ways that make it stronger as a film. For the horror film buff, see this movie. For the horror fiction fanatic, read "Who Goes There?" as soon as you're done reading "I Am Legend."

So there you have it. Four movies or books that scare the hell out of me every time I watch or read them. These are the stories that inspired me to write horror in the first place... with the lights on, of course. Over the next few months, I will let you know how this new horror novel is shaping up. I would like to start posting excerpts soon. I may even try writing it publicly (at least portions) and let you leave some comments or feedback.

Until then, be sure to check out my first novel "Children of Aerthwheel" or my book of short stories "Prismatica." Happy reading!