I’ve decided to become a horror writer. Gothic horror novels and early Science Fiction (such as the works of H.G. Wells) were what really got me interested in reading and writing when I was 8 or 9 years old. I still vividly remember spending 6 months reading Dracula at the age of 9 or 10. As I grew older I read less and less pure horror fiction, though I greatly respect John Ajvide Lindqvist, Poppy Z Brite and Stephen King. When I think about it, most of the writers I really love are writing horror of a kind. Take Elfriede Jelinek for example—you don’t get much more horrific than her vision of the world.
A couple of years back I wrote a novel that was more in the realms of literary fiction. In the letters accompanying the manuscript I sent to agents, I often said that the book was an attempt to write a horror novel without a monster. This was partly because the novel was concerned with cinema, and I love horror films, but also because I wanted life itself to be the horrific element. The responses I got tended to explain that though the novel was well written and generally good, sometimes they said very good, the agent could not think of a market for it.
So I thought, if one has to constrain oneself to ideas of marketability and marketplace – if literary fiction is just another meat market like any other genre – why not participate in a genre that is more fun, that is less in denial about its own status, and that allows a little more room for flexibility. Since I’m not going to get the Nobel Prize for Literature either way, why fuck around trying to do something noble?
Most of the short stories I have written have been horrific to one degree or another, but now I am going to start working on writing real horror fiction. At the moment I’m writing a play that may be my last non-horror work for some time. While I work on the play, I’m going to read and watch as much horror as possible. I’m starting by catching up on Lindqvist with Lille stjerne (Little Star), and then I’m going to move on to Thomas Ligotti. Please recommend me any essential reading. I think I’ve read most of the classics but I hardly know where to begin with contemporary stuff. Tips on exciting authors, online forums or good collections would all be really helpful.
For the first time in a while, I’m excited to be a writer again.