For Grandma, Or Why I’ll Always Write Horror

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As I slog through submissions, rejections, and trying to create something halfway decent to peddle, the process can make even the most positive person wither. After the death of my father a few months back, writing has been difficult. I see so many fake people on social media who will do anything to get whatever they’ve written noticed. The asskissers. The fake-it-till-you-make-its. The phonies. It gets me thinking how much I want to do it any more. Before anyone jumps on me, I know there are some good folks out there. I know some of them. It just seems like there are more and more of the not-so-good folks all the time. And damnit, they know how to trample on anything good faster than a kaiju in the big city!

Some days I’m very quiet. I introspect about what I’ve accomplished and where I’ve come from. There’s hard work. There’s regret. There’s accomplishment. There’s failure. But at the heart of it all are the stories.

I try and be the author who writes the kinds of stories they would enjoy reading. I’m a monster guy. I’ve always loved monsters in some way, shape, or form. Anything from vampires to giant, city smashing lizards. If there are monsters, there are usually people fighting them too. That’s who I wanted to be as a kid. Not an astronaut, or a policeman, or a doctor. No, I wanted to be Van Helsing with his wooden stakes, or Charley Brewster from Fright Night.

I mention this because the other night as I pondered why my books featuring vampires haven’t done so well even though I love the hell out of them, I remembered why I wrote them in the first place. They were for the kid in me. And the kid in me used to devour horror movies with his Grandma every chance he got. We would watch Evil Dead, Aliens, Cujo, or whatever else my Grandma wanted. I was happy just to be around her. The whole monster thing just sort of sunk in while we watched.

Years later Cancer took her and even though I still miss her, a piece of me still belongs with her and those movies. I know that if she were still alive, she’d love my books. She would love them for the monsters and the people who battle them. She’d love them for the same reasons I do.

My Grandma wasn’t the only one in my family who got me on the horror train. I also owe my father a tip of the cap. Early on in my life he introduced me to Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Wolfman, Salem’s Lot, and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Even though my father and I never had the best of relationships, we always had movies. Whenever I wanted to watch something, no matter what it was, he always said yes. Raiders of the Lost Ark for the 100th time? Put it on. Predator for the 150th time? You bet. John Carpenter’s The Thing for the 1000th time? Absolutely. One of the first grown up books I ever picked up was Jaws and I took it from my father’s shelf. It’s also thanks to my father that I started reading horror too.

Cancer recently took my father too. And I know where ever he is, he’s rooting for my books. He’s a horror guy, and there can never be enough horror.

Like I said, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I keep putting my books with vampires out there in a market that wants nothing to do with them. The answer is pretty simple. It’s because I love those books just like I love my Grandma and father. Those books are so much more than vampires. They’re grand-in-scope stories where good people fight monsters on behalf of the rest of humanity, because there’s something worth fighting for. So even though agents and other literary professionals see the word “vampire” and run for the hills, I know there’s a lot more to those books than that. There’s a piece of my father, my Grandma, and the love we all shared for horror. And someday, someone else will recognize what i see in those books too.

The mind can be a funny thing. When something is clogging it up, we have to figure out why and how to unclog it. If we don’t, we won’t be able to move forward. I know my love for monsters and the people who fight them comes from abuse too, but that’s a story for another day. It’s also something my Grandma, father, and I all share too. Horror, like my family, is a part of me. It always will be.

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7 comments

  1. I really feel your pain, Brian. Several years ago I was trying to sell a zombie novel. Yeah, not gonna happen in the post-zombie market. I was about 6 months behind the glut. I really admire your passion and your emotional honesty and your persistence. You know, it might not be a vampire market now, but it will be again someday. Or, if you sell something else first that does well, the market could make room for it. I know you’ll break your way through eventually.

    1. Thank you, Annie. I know vampires are a tough sell, but I have to try, you know? If I don’t believe in those books, why should anyone else? It just weighs you down some days. I’m finishing up a sci-fi book (think John Carter meets Stargate) but I’m itching to write about monsters and the people who fight them again. The time away has been good. I hope your writing is going well. I’m looking forward to your next project! *gets money ready*

  2. Looking back on our origins as writers (horror or otherwise), there’s always that one person that influenced you by introducing you to their joy. You got two, Brian, and that’s a hell of a thing. Keep writing what you want to write, the readers will follow.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement. I’m trying. As you know, horror in general seems to be a tough sell. I’m finishing up a sci-fi book but am getting the itch to go back to monsters. Hope all is well.

    1. I keep thinking you’re taking notes like psychologist. You know looking down at me over your glasses with a legal pad. “Interesting,” is all you say. I sit back and wonder if I’ve done or said something wrong. Then I realize it’s you and I’m okay with that. 🙂

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