Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Three Writers, One Genre - Horror! (Part 2)

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

During our scary night in, I probed my three talented guests (Jenny Twist, Su Halfwerk and Tara Fox Hall) about the writers who had inspired their own imaginations. As you can guess, Stephen King's name (actually, I'm beginning to wonder if, as far as the horror genre is concerned, that shouldn't be King Stephen) cropped up more than twice. Jenny considers his book On Writing to be the Bible of any aspiring horror writer, though she also acknowledges one of my favourite writers, Ray Bradbury for her inspiration along with James Herbert, Stephen Laws and John Wyndham (you know, The Triffids guy).

Tara generously credits King with her childhood nightmares as well as her inspiration (well she did start reading him at the tender age of eight when she first read Pet Sematary. I doubt her parents were aware of that though, so let's keep it quiet). What she particularly likes about the master of horror is not the gore but the psychological insights and suspense he creates in stories like The Body and Stand by Me. This fascination with the human psyche is clearly evident in her own writing.

Su admires King's smooth writing style and facility with words but for her darker thrills, she turns to Brian Lumley "because of his Necroscope series and his creative take on vampires. He made them do delicious things." Oh Su, what would your Mum say?!

Of course being an avid reader of these three luminaries here present, I know which stories of theirs I like best, but I was particularly interested to hear which of their stories they rated as their own favourites, and after a couple of glasses of wine (well it was a very hard task requiring a lot of internal - and also a fair bit of external - debate), I persuaded them to tell me.

Su chose The Substitute one of the three stories in the really excellent anthology: Hellbound. She didn't need to elaborate on her reasons - You'll see yourself from the excerpt below. A word of warning: don't read it just before bedtime!

Tara told us: "I favor my Latham’s Landing stories above my other works, probably because the story All That Remains was my very first short horror work years ago." Aww! Pull on the heartstrings, why don't you, Tara? We'll judge for ourselves when we read the excerpt I wrenched from her at great personal cost very soon (hint: she's right of course - when isn't she?).

Jenny (I'm told her family and best friends do agree she changes her mind often) says "My favourite changes, of course, depending on what I've most recently been working on. But I am rather proud of the first story in Bedtime Shadows, The Man with no Face. I think it complies with all my criteria – short, starting off as a little intriguing but not too alarming, then slowly gathering pace to reach a crescendo with the ending which (I hope) comes as a shocking surprise. I tried to do the literary equivalent of the end of the film, Carrie, when the hand comes shooting up out of the grave." Well I, for one, wouldn't disagree with that at all. When I first read it, I honestly thought a ghostly hand had come out of my past to plunder my own infant memories! Shiver! Jenny Twist's stories often have that effect on me, which must be why I can relate to them so well (unless she's some sort of...hmm...well, let's not go there).

I'm going to post all three wonderful excerpts during the next week, but am starting with Su's today, so, once again, are you sitting quite comfortably? Then we'll let Su begin:

Stan’s mind churned, working rapidly to come up with a proper response, but the bloody thing froze, unable to produce a single plausible excuse. This wasn't helping his business; it would ruin him. Half of his clientèle came to him through word of mouth.
Then it happened. That damned switch turned inside of him and his lips moved against his will. A raspy ancient voice croaked out of his throat, “Ha! Jas, the macho man. Jas, the bad boy in leather. Jas, the wife beater! Wife killer!”
Jason’s face paled; his lips trembled. Stan couldn't blame him.
“I didn't mean to push you down the stairs,” Jason babbled. “You just fell.”
The thing on the floor snapped her head to the right and then left, making popping sounds in the process. “I always fall. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Clumsy meeee.”
Jason hiccuped a cry and went on his knees in front of the desk. “Please say that you forgive me. I want to hear it one more time. I've cheated on you, beaten you up, and you took it all. Now I see that my ways were wrong, that my unjust actions have damned me for eternity.”
Stan’s mouth moved in an age-old cackle. “You think I minded that you stuck your ding-a-ling in any hole you found? It was a blessing, it meant I was spared the degradation of screwing you. Even the beating was fine. But the killing? No!”
Jason flinched.
“Remember when I tried to walk out and you cut off my pinky? What a klutz I've been, chopping off my own finger while cutting onion. That’s what I had to say to that chauvinist arrogant doctor.”
“A-a-all I want is your forgiveness.” Sniff. “If I could take it all back, I would.”
“You can. First, dig out my body from our basement and clear my name in front of our kids. I didn't run off with the gardener. Second, take out your .22 and shoot yourself in the groin. Finally, lay down on the ground and enjoy the pain until you die.” She snapped her head around again. “I might forgive you then, but I’ll also be waiting for you.” She flashed those teeth again, her smile no different from her grimace.
Jason fell on the ground, face down, weeping and slapping his hand on the wooden floor.
Stan watched his client and his dead wife in horror. A maggot travelled through one of Patricia’s cheeks to an eye, and she chose that perfect moment to wink at Stan. He almost threw up.

See what I mean about it being a must read?


Jenny Twist said...

Su, I'd forgotten how good this is. Now I want to read it again!

Su Halfwerk said...

Thanks for posting the expert, Lyn, and for making me sound sooo interesting hehehe.
Your kind words and Jenny's brought a smile to my lips and a sense of contentment to my heart. Thank you again.

ManicScribbler said...

Can't wait for yours next week, Jenny!

And Su, you are VERY interesting to me. I wish I had your talents.

Tori L. Ridgewood said...

Terrific! Another work has been added to my to-read list! Lyn, your interviews are fabulous! I love your commentary -- tickles me pink!

Tara Fox Hall said...

Wonderful excerpt Su...creepy as Hell! And I love the cover!! I also love Lumely. His Faethor Ferenczy is one of my favorite characters of all time.
Hate to burst your bubble, Lyn...but my mom read the book first, then when I expressed interest because of the cat on the front, she gave it to me to read. :)

ManicScribbler said...

Thanks, Tori - aren't they such a delightful trio? Glad to hear you will read Hellbound - you won't regret it.

ManicScribbler said...

Wise mum, Tara - she knew you'd probably just go and read it secretly anyway ;)(Isn't that what always happens with bright, inquisitive children?)

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