Monday, October 22, 2012
“He would write it for the reason he felt that all great literature, fiction and nonfiction, was written: truth comes out, in the end it always comes out. He would write it because he felt he had to.”
― Stephen King, The Shining
Raise your hands if you know where that is from. Yes it is October. The month of Halloween, the end of daylight savings time, the start of fall, and my favorite time of year. If I think about it I guess October will be the perfect time for my book to come out next year. I mean I love Halloween. I love paranormal. I write paranormal. So it all fits.
So where does "Redrum" fit in? I decided to jump out of the romance, YA, and contemporary dystopian novels I have been hooked on and revisit my past. Read a classic work of American Horror and scare the living daylights out of myself. In comes Stephen King and The Shining. Crazy hedge animals, isolated grand hotels, crazed vindictive drunks. Ahhh the stuff great horror is made of.
But actually I have not been scared. The first time I read it was probably close to 18 years ago in my early teens. I remember cringing under the covers and lying awake in bed watching every shadow waiting for Jack Torrance to jump out with his rouque club and beat me. Now, not so much. I find myself analyzing King's use of symbolism and suspense. His mastery of drawing you in with intricate back stories and lots of detail. The way he builds tension and fear not by gore just for gore's sake. But by building up the idea of gore in your mind. By using location and circumstance, and even our own experiences, to scare the hell out of us. When you really look at it, King is a genius on some levels. And an overachiever on others.
The real horror in The Shining comes down to the point that evil is present in all of us. That the mind is a complicated chasm of emotion and thought. The real threat of the Overlook resided in the mind of Jack Torrance, and the uncanny perception of Danny. King was exploring the concept of self fulfilled prophecy in a whole new way. And the results are chilling. The book is an amazing look into the power of the mind. Psyco dad, kid with a gift, wife in denial, it's all here and blended into a truly chilling mix. Even if it doesn't scare the hell out of you in the traditional sense.
The real travesty is that when you think of The Shining you first think of the 1980 movie adaptation by Stanley Kubek. Another man who was known for creating horror by the way he panned a camera or set up a shot. The movie is not a bad thing, it still makes me hide my face in my pillow. It is what a horror movie should be. Not all the blood splattering gore. I refuse to watch today's horror movies because they are nothing but violence for violence sake. But this one will scare you for other reasons. Even Shelly Duval's overacting will make you cringe. Just another book lost to the trappings of cinema.
When I am stumped on something I am writing I like to revisit some of my favorite writers and see where they were the strongest. Try and analyze the plot and see how they structure story. (A homage to a creative writing teacher I had.) And this month frankly I just wanted to read some of my favorite creepy guys. Blend what's new and what's old in the paranormal genre. A little King, a little Poe, and maybe some Mary Shelly. The classics got horror right. Can we label The Shining a classic? Maybe not. But it defiantly is from a bygone era.
What creepy stories are you reading to celebrate Halloween?