I’ve probably metaphorically shot myself in the foot, as far as my writing career goes. Most successful authors write in a specific genre, generally telling the same story over in different variations. I understand this. When you go looking for a book to read, do you usually try the unknown – something that may disappoint, or waste your time? Or do you go for the tried-and-true?
Honestly, I’m the same way. My time is limited. My bandwidth is limited. So I stick with what I know, or rely on recommendations. It’s like when I pull into McDonald’s: I’m in the mood for those sinful fries, and I know exactly what I’m going to get, and sure enough those fries deliver. (Shout-out to the Golden Arches, as it was my first “official” job at 16. But that’s a whole other story.)
And yet, looking over my books, they are all plot-heavy; that’s the common denominator. But they really vary in tone.
Screams You Hear is a horror novel. It’s my first, and maybe my last. Not that I don’t think it’s good. I’m proud of it. My mom hates it. She asks me, “Jimmy, when are you going to write something nice?” One day, I tell her. One day I’ll write something sweet and clean. But not yet.
The problem with writing horror, or at least my problem, is that I spent a lot of time in Ruthie’s headspace and trying to make her experience real on the page. It’s tough to write horror. After finishing, it really made me want to write something frothy and fun, just as a palate cleanser.
But it’s important, as horror allows us to visit our Dark Places in safety -- a way to say hello to our shadow selves. And maybe, just maybe, enjoy the rollercoaster that horror provides. Think of it like a literary adventure park – a few screams, allowing yourself to let go, and in a way you’re purified.
I admit I used this piece as an exorcism of sorts. To lay down some of my own baggage. But isn’t that what all writing is? We explore what’s interesting to us at the time, and try to share that experience to make it more understandable, even if it’s only as a myth?
Enough of my armchair philosophizing. Hopefully you enjoy Ruthie’s journey. And you can let me know if you’d like more horror stories from me in the future.
If you’re interested, here’s the US Amazon link, where it’s a free kindle book for a limited time: