Awe

*Normally I put a little user-friendly pic here. Today I have only the following disclaimer: I have read none of the works of the author I am about to quote. This would normally disqualify him from being quoted, but I did peruse his website, read a rather lengthy interview done with him by a Mr. David J. Howe; and anyways, I read the article in my Writer’s Digest magazine, and found it to be very interesting*

– A Disclaimer

The article was called “Why I Write Horror” and it was written by a Brit named Ramsey Campbell.

(you can check out the article at http://www.ramseycampbell.com ; it is the first block of writing that appears on Mr. Campbell’s site.)

He is a prolific writer of horror stories – novels and shorts – and he has won so many awards that I wonder how he possibly sleeps with them filling up his house at night; overflowing into other rooms, escaping out through windows every time he tries to let in some fresh air…anyways, I wager that the guy has some street-cred.

Here’s the quote that caught my attention:

Writers of horror fiction, who used to strive for awe and achieve fear, now strive for fear and achieve only disgust.” – David Aylward

I read this, and I felt like, this is it!

In my last post (Beauty and Beast), I talked about the phenomenon that often happens when I read Stephen King (and Joe Hill, sometimes Neil Gaiman, among others) of “my soul being lifted up in beauty.” I think this is the awe that Mr. Campbell writes about. He goes on to say the following:

And it seems to me that too much straining for terror (as I certainly did in The Parasite) is wont to produce nothing more than a disgusting dump.” – Ramsey Campbell

This is true!

I tried writing a couple of horror shorts, exclusively focusing on the horror elements, and they weren’t so great (Dead Game and Eternal Echoes). My sister read Echoes, and even though she watches a lot of horror, I believe her first reaction was,

Eww..That was gross. And creepy.

At the time I thought, Yes! Mission accomplished?…

(I think there is still hope for Dead Game achieving more, we’ll see how it survives the 2008 editing that needs to happen with many of my short stories).

Nowadays, I just try and write good stories. Oftentimes horror creeps in there, but I no longer go into it with that intent. I let the story do what the story wants to do. It’s certainly more fun that way. And I often have no clue until the very end where exactly I will end up (even if I think I have a clue before that!).


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Published in: on March 29, 2008 at 3:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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