Monday, December 24, 2012

Why we need really shit writers...

Dustin LaValley made the following post on the Horror Writers Association Facebook page today.

I am of the internet generation of dark fiction authors. Those of our generation who create work worth the damn are far and few between.

I fully blame the internet for the overwhelming presence of the ignorant, self-righteous, the stupid, the dipshits who write and the dipshits who only publish zombie fiction and vampire fiction (which is dying... so luckily, zombie is next... hopefully). It is depressing to see those who are creating work that is done so in an individual voice, with flowing prose and new formulas, challenging format and in all, writing unique pieces... being ignored like a fussing child while those who write the same fucking thing in the same fucking formula with no voice and no distinction between their work and the work on any fan fiction message board by bored housewives trying to escape their unideal existences.

We need to step up. We need to say no. We need to come together and create a new golden era. We will never experience what the 1970s-early 1990s gave, the authors and their work, but if we achieve one-forth of that... we will be in a better world.

We intelligent are letting the stupid rule the world. We need to to man-up and put this to an end.

I found this really disappointing, that a member of the HWA and a prolific author (even one who's novella was proclaimed "Book of The Year!" by the magazine he is a staff writer for...) but mostly what bothers me is the enthusiastic response he has received from other HWA members on Facebook (Note: I am not a member of the Horror Writers Association). So I wrote the following response from the perspective of an indie writer and horror writing fan... 

There have ALWAYS been crap books out there. Horror and every other form of genre fiction has more than it's share of complete turds in the pool. Lots of successful authors have a few clunkers in their catalogue. If we get elitist about it and say "You can't publish cos I hate vampire stories!" Then we are failing as writers and readers. Organisations like the HWA should be supporting anyone who wants to add their voice to the tumult of horror fiction. Everyone has their own interpretation and everyone has the right to give it a go. Yes, 90% of the books I have read this year have been steaming piles of shit. But I gave them a go, because I believe in giving everyone a chance. Some authors have made me roll my eyes and give up after a few chapters, but a few, a precious few, have taken me somewhere else and given me the chance to be totally entertained by what they have written. But if we prevent any one of those writers, the good and the shockingly awful, from practising their art, then we have failed them, we have failed the millions of readers that we all crave and worst of all, we have said, "There is no learning curve in writing horror. You either write EXACTLY what we write and as well as we THINK we write it, or get the fuck out." 
So what you are railing against is freedom for writers to develop their skills and find their voice. You are saying no matter how immature, or naive or full of your own self-worth you are, you are no where near as full of shit as we are.

If you want better reading material, support the developing writers who are writing complete shit to become better and to keep exploring and challenging the boundaries of the horror and dark fiction and spec fiction genres. A world where people who give it a go and fuck things up aren't allowed to learn and are banned from following their dreams by some Literati of self-absorbed horror critics is not the world I want to live in.

edited for edityness

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Savage Beasts

I grew up on a small farm near a small town in a small country. We had no TV and my only exposure to music was my sister's The Osmonds records. Needless to say it wasn't until I left home at 13 and went to boarding school that I discovered that music was actually worth listening to.

Like the other guys in my age group I became a metal head. The kids a year older were into Talking Heads, the 5th formers were into Punk. We didn't ask the seniors what music they liked, because talking to them would get you beaten unconscious (seriously, my year at boarding school is the subject of another blog post).

I embraced bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead and Dio in a way that I had never felt about anything before. This music channelled perfectly the seething rage of adolescence and made a good soundtrack to my year in the gulag.

Returning to the city I got into metal more and more. I owned albums of Iron Maiden, Dio, Black Sabbath, White Snake, W.A.S.P and anything else I could borrow, bootleg or buy. Mum bought me Iron Maiden's The Number Of The Beast on LP for Christmas in 1985. She asked the guy at the store if it sounded as bad as it looked.

Bless her for buying it anyway.

Through out the rest of the 80's I just got angrier and more unsettled (PTSD will do that to you) like a junkie I kept looking for some new fix. I kept digging and found bands like Candlemass, Venom, Death and Slayer. 

I coined the phrase Death Metal to describe what I was listening to, a few years later I heard it being used as the label for this sub-genre of rock. Candlemass are Doom Metal, but like H. Sapiens and every other primate, it all comes from the same common ancestor.

I'm 41 now. My birthday was a few weeks back, I still listen to all these bands (though my tastes have expanded exponentially). I no longer listen with the same adrenalin filled need to scream, but with a casual nostalgia. It's what tells me how far I have come.

I'm sitting here alone in darkness, waiting to be free,
Lonely and forlorn I am crying
I long for my time to come, death means just life
Please let me die in solitude

~ Candlemass "Solitude"