Publishes September 4th, 2013
In this gritty “Dark Knight meets The Wire” superhero series, an ex-con tries to overcome his blackouts and memory loss with the help of his prison psychiatrist. Along with his returning memories, he finds evidence that his daughter and grandson are in mortal danger from a brutal killer with a grudge. But he also discovers a side to his personality that only comes out during his blackouts: a superhero with telepathic powers. As he finds himself in a complex world of betrayal, dangerous alien biotechnology, and a dimensional rift to a world of waking nightmares, can he bring together the fragments of his broken mind in time to save his family, or is everything he thinks he knows just another figment of a deluded killer’s imagination?
What Drives the Man Behind the Madness?
I recently wrote a post about fear. I was asked to write specifically about what scares ME, a horror author. I sort of answered that question, but, come on! Like I’m really going to tell you that?
The truth is, the things that scare me aren’t on the list of usual suspects. Except spiders. I hate those things. They are demonic eight-legged walking chemical reactions build for one thing, and it ain’t practicing for spelling bees in spun silk.
But I digress. When I wrote my very first horror story in 2011, I did a lot of thinking about things that frightened me. I mean REALLY frightened me. I’m a very optimistic guy, so in my mind I can take just about anything that wants to carve a piece Greg out for itself.
Thugs with guns? I’m a pretty decent shot, too.
Zombie Apocalypse? I grew up in the woods, and was even Boy Scout for a few years. I’ll get by.
Ninjas? I took a martial arts class or two. Bring ‘em on.
See where I’m going with this? I’m probably wrong on every count, but I THINK I can take ‘em, so they don’t scare me. Much.
“Well,” I can hear you asking, “What does scare you, mister tough guy?” Since you asked, my biggest fear is that something happening to my family (pets included) when I am not around to protect them. Since I’m sure that’s pretty high on everyone’s list, I gave it more thought. It’s not a pleasant topic to dive into head-first. But it made me think of something even worse.
“What if I was there when this generic horrible event occurred? What if I had to witness it, and was utterly powerless to stop it?” I wondered.
I simply couldn’t imagine anything more horrible. But I wanted to capture the essence of fear, so I tried. And I’m afraid I must say I succeeded.
I wasn’t going to write about it, though. Not really. I didn’t want to think about, let alone create such a scenario and experience it through one of my characters. And if I didn’t want to think about it, why would anyone want to read about it?
But I did write it. It was just an exercise, though. That story was for my eyes only, so it was okay. It would never be published.
But it was published.
And it included other things that scare me almost as much as being powerless to protect my loved ones from harm. “Like what?” you are wondering.
Do you remember the little bugs in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan? Khan put one in Chekov’s ear and it burrowed into his brain, making him very susceptible to suggestion. He almost killed Captain Kirk just because Khan told him to. Can you imagine harming the people or person you would otherwise willingly die to protect? That’s a game changer. And it touches on the other fear that I’ve been skirting.
Madness. Madness is scary because, unlike Khan’s brain bugs, it is real. And that makes for great horror fodder. A writer can do so many thing with a broken brain….
One person murdering another in a fit of passionate rage is tragic, but it’s not very frightening to me. But take the emotion out of that scene, take away chance of the killer feeling some remorse, and it gets scary. A killer that can’t be reasoned with, or better yet, doesn’t even think that killing is wrong is character for a horror story.
Let’s hop back to the question why someone would write such a story. The story I wrote is called “Finding Home,” from my two story collection, Apocalypstick. It was a difficult, gut-wrenching story to write, and because of that, it’s one that I’m very proud of.
I don’t write horror to make people feel safe and comfortable. I want to make readers afraid. I want to make them uncomfortable. I want their hearts to race, their palms to sweat, and I want them to dread ever experiencing such a thing in real life. When they finish reading, I hope they tuck their kids into bed with an extra hug and take a few moments to show their spouses that appreciate and love them before starting my next book. Who knows? Maybe reading about fictional fear and suffering will help them cope with the crap going on in their real lives.
Akira Kurosawa said the artist has a responsibility to not look away.
I don’t write to make the world a better place. I write to entertain people with a good story that doesn’t look away from the icky or the uncomfortable. I was asked what makes a horror writer tell the stories he tells; what drives the man behind the madness. This my answer.
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