Sunday, 6 September 2015

How I became a horror writer.

I first started trying to write stories when I was in Junior school. I would sit there with small exercise books and I would try to think of something to write, in fact it was at this early age when I first tried to form a collective of writers. Me and my friends would all sit down and try to write stories nothing much every came of it but it was something which helped me to get through the days. 

I had my one and only brush with fan fiction at the age of around 15. I had read some of the what they now call expanded universe Star Wars books and enjoyed them. There was an exercise we were set by school where we had to try and write something within a world created by another so for some reason I gravitated towards Kyp Durren an apprentice of Luke Skywalkers and from there built up what I seem to remember was a reasonable sized tale. This was before I owned a computer though so it has been lost, maybe it will turn up in a draw or cupboard one day but in all honesty I am pretty sure it is long dead. I enjoyed writing it but I could instantly see a million problems in it, principally the fact that no matter how bad or good it was there was nothing much I would be able to do with it, I had wrote about a copyrighted character in a copyrighted universe. ( At this time I didn't really know how many places existed online for posting fan fiction if I had I wouldn't have been able to do anything about it as I did not yet have access to a PC).

I think a lot of my early attempts at writing were met by me simply holding a pencil and nothing happening because I had neither seen or experienced enough. I hadn't read enough books nor had I experienced enough things myself as a person. By the age of 16 I had seen more films than anyone I knew, I also hadn't done bad as far as reading went. There was a sudden obsession for Quentin Tarantino Reservoir Dogs and this led to a lot of my friends being interested in trying to replicate the film, I was known as the one with some writing talent and so I became the one to write the scripts. Looking back they were not my best work, they were incredibly plagiarised borrowing mostly from Dogs but with a sprinkling of various cop shows running from Miami vice to TJ hooker. These films were recorded on to these old half sized VHS video camera cassettes and are now also long lost. Most of them are in all honesty best lost but we did make one called ''The Evil that Men Do'' which although heavily influenced by the films and shows I had watched did feature some considering are age decent acting and impressive stunt work. It wasn't feature length it was about twenty minutes in length but it was something we were all very proud of. It was the high point of all of our work but instead of it being built upon we all ended up going our separate ways pulled away by jobs and higher education

So why has a lot of my writing been horror based? Well to answer that we need to start with another question and that is what do you get if you add the writing talents of Stephen King, the directing skills of George Romero and the special effects work of Tom Savini with just a pinch of Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson and sprinkle of other actors? You get Creepshow a compendium of five short horror tales contained within a single full-length feature film.

Creepshow wasn't the first horror film I came across in fact by the time I saw Creepshow I had seen most of the old fashioned universal classics but this is one of the films I would recognise as the beginning of my real love for horror.I first came upon this film when I was about 12, the film had the right combination of tame scares and gross moments tempered with humour to help introduce me into the world of horror. This film was my gateway to the books of Stephen King, as soon as I had watched this I began looking at his books. and deciding which ones I would read first. This is somewhat amusing considering that the main inspiration for this film clearly comes from the original E.C. crime and horror comics of the 1950's. Creepshow was written by King as a tribute to these comic books which he has often spoke about as being one of the things that helped him become a horror writer. I would latter find myself enjoying both reprints of EC's horror comics as well as frequently watching the TV show Tales from the crypt and the old British film version of Tales from the crypt without at the time truly realising and appreciating the connection between all of these pieces of work.

There is a common theme which seems to run through most of the EC Comics stories, the stories in Tales from the Crypt (many of which were adapted from the comics themselves) and to some degree the tales in Creepshow and that is that they are in some way morality plays where by some twist will happen which will see someone get there comeuppance at the end of the story. I guess having spent my early years in a church of England school I was used to the morality play aspect, the whole idea of those who sin shall be punished. I didn't see much of this in real life, in real life people would seem to get away with being arseholes with seemingly nothing happening to them in return. These stories planted the seed in my mind which would go on to germinate in many of my own stories latter on. I might have first watched Creepshow at 12 but I certainly watched it more times than that, in fact to me it was a classic I would watch again and again.

Sure there were other books and films that interested me, I would go so far as to say that Lord of the Rings was my favourite book of all time but it wasn't a book I felt I could replicate the style of on any level. Tolkien created these thick worlds filled with all new languages and cultures, he seemed to juggle so many balls that I just couldn't grasp how a person could do this. I felt intimidated by them.  Yet I felt I could write stories with a horror twist stories which dealt with morals and with justice.This is how I became a horror writer. I began to play with stories in which a sense of justice existed where people got what they deserved. All that needed to happen from this point was for me to gain the courage to put my work out there and this courage came from two places it came from the kind words and support of my Mother and my Fiancée. I wrote my first proper piece that I was proud of while sat waiting for my Fiancée while she was in a university lecture. I showed it to both my Fiancée and my Mother and they told me it was good. Unfortunately not long after this my Mother went in to hospital and passed away. It was a huge blow to me as my Mum meant the world to me, but it made me decide that it was now or never, I had to self publish my story and get it out there and so I did.

I might not be famous but I know that people have read my work, I might have only made a little cash out of it but I can happily say that I am a writer and no matter what anyone says I gave it my best and I tried. I am still writing and still trying to make an impact and maybe I will or maybe I wont but I dont think that is what really matters, what matters is that whoever you are , whatever you love and wherever you are you chase your dreams as that's the only way to really be happy.

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