Today I am turning the blog over to Chad Lutzke. Chad is an author of many interviews, articles and reviews in the independent movie and music scene. He is also an author, his self published book of horror shorts will be released late this year/early 2015**. Chad is more than qualified to speak on this subject, and when I read his piece, I have to say I was extremely excited.
Here he is exploring the motivation behind why we write horror. His take is so on the money, and if you never thought of the 'what if's' before, you surely will now. The many levels and outlets of creativity in the paranormal and horror world are hard to pigeon hole. And it's true, we like to be scared when we are in control. And what better way to be in control than if you can close the book or turn off the TV. Just because one can explore those dark corners others shut off, doesn't mean they live there. Well, I'll just let Chad explain it, he does a much better job. Take it away Chad:
I’ve seen and read many interviews with Stephen King. Decades have gone by, and journalists/TV show hosts are still asking the man where his ideas come from. This is normally followed by a handful of humorous remarks at Mr. King’s expense, reflecting what kind of childhood he must have had, and what in the world is in that head of his that would make someone come up with the ideas he does.
Right there is the perfect segue for me to burst into a well-deserved rant concerning the lack of good interviewers in the media who don’t seem to do their homework, but that's not what you want to hear. Trust me. It could get ugly. Instead, let's focus on answering the above question. Where do those ideas come from?
I would argue that they come from a healthy mind. I would argue that an unhealthy mind wouldn't be able to come up with the sinister, and sometimes immoral, topics that grace the pages of Stephen King books. You're confused, so allow me to enlighten you.
The guy in prison doing consecutive life sentences for killing multiple people, what scares him? Certainly not death, nor blood, nor being alone in a dark forest with a body. What keeps us up at night helps him sleep. He finds pleasure in what turns our stomach. With this individual there is a distorted view of what's good and what's bad.
If you can't come up with any horrifying ideas to develop a story then perhaps we should be worried about you. If you can't "what if" at least one original scenario that would frighten both you and I, perhaps you're the monster.
Writing fiction is about using facts and then piling on the "what ifs." Stephen King once visited The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado on Mount Evans Road. Mount Evans Road is the highest paved road in North America, and it's closed during the winter and early spring months due to snowfall. I've been there. It's in the middle of nowhere, and although beautiful, it’s very intimidating. The air is thin and the vast, open space triggered in me what can only be described as the exact opposite of claustrophobia. I shook it off and thoroughly enjoyed my visit, but I'm guessing Mr. King himself got a little taste of that uneasiness as well.
Apparently he found it interesting that during the winter months the place needed caregivers; so interesting in fact that he piled in some "what ifs" and gave birth to The Shining. What if a family came to act as caregivers for this hotel. What if the head of the household was a recovering alcoholic as well as a writer. What if the stress of socializing with no other person, save for his wife and young son, caused him a case of “cabin fever.” What if that fever was exacerbated by the feeling of being trapped for several months due to blizzard conditions, pushing him over the edge. What if the hotel is actually haunted and "helps" push him over that edge. What if his son has some kind of "spiritual" connection to the hotel. Mix them all together and you’ve got yourself some Red Rum and one of the most popular horror novels in the last four decades.
These ideas didn't come from the mind of a man with a wrecked childhood or delusional adulthood. These ideas came from a man who happened to be a writer, a recovering/struggling alcoholic, who visited a hotel, learned of the road closing nearly half the year, and perhaps thought to himself, this could drive someone nuts up here.
Think of the genesis of an idea for a book or story as a newly painted Dodge Charger, cherry red. From the outside it looks great, but what happens if you get in and it reeks of 4 decades of Marlboro's and McDonald's, and the tires are flat. Not only are you going nowhere, but you and your nose are having a miserable time sitting idle. I've read books like this. The premise is full of promise but the pages full of poo.
The ability to "what if" is in the healthy mind of all of us. Now if you want to be the next Stephen King, then you'd better back up those ideas with an attractive and well-crafted prose. This is what sells him squidillions of books; the ability to make those suckers come to life and bounce around in your head years after you've read the last page.
If writing is something you’ve longed to do but never put the pen to paper, I challenge you to give literary life to those “what ifs” and build them into something to keep the rest of us turning your pages.
Chad lives in Battle Creek, MI. with his wife and children where he works as a medical language specialist. For over two decades, he has been a contributor to several different outlets in the independent music and film scene including articles, reviews, and artwork. Chad loves music, rain, sarcasm, dry humor, and cheese. He has a strong disdain for dishonesty and hard-boiled eggs. Though he's bothered continuously by his family and friends to paint more, he claims his perfectionism has ruined any therapeutic value it once held and now finds its calming effect likened to that of bathing in a pool of piranha with bologna stapled to his legs. For now, and hopefully into the distant future, Chad uses writing as his creative outlet. He is a regular contributor to Horror Novel Reviews, and you can find his work in Shadows & Light #3 & #4 as well as the upcoming books Twisted Christmas from Dressing Your Book Publications and Brains III from Dark Moon Press. Late 2014/early 2014, Chad will be releasing an anthology of horror shorts. In the meantime, he can be found lurking the internet at the following addresses:
His blog, Write-Brained Leftovers: www.chadlutzke.weebly.com
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/AuthorChadLutzke
Amazon Author page: www.amazon.com/author/chadlutzke
Horror Novel Reviews Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HorrorNovelReviews
**article was corrected
**article was corrected