My Books & Stories (Amazon Page)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More On Horror Writing

I went over and read the blog post that the AW poster referred to yesterday and, quite frankly, I don't know precisely what the guy (Robert Dunbar) is bitching about. Maybe I'm outing him here, but he seems to be saying that horror writing should aspire to more literary traditions, but he makes a point of stating that his last book "ate" his life with TV and radio show interviews, readings, and more.

He does make a point of stating that he believes many horror writers are aiming at the gutter, what he calls "vampire bodice rippers, torture porn, and zombie sitcoms" and that he believes the critics of his book probably thought they were picking up a more traditional sort of horror novel and then found something completely different.

Now, I haven't read Dunbar's book, but it sounds interesting, being based on the legends of the Jersey Devil, but if he's being successful, and he obviously is, I don't see the need for him to bitch overly much. It's a little like the pot calling the kettle black. His main point seems to be that the vampire bodice rippers, torture porn, and zombie sitcoms are bringing literate works like his own and the entire genre down into a "gutter" level where he gets no respect.

Dude, stop being so full of yourself.

Horror should be fun, first and foremost. People like to be scared. Yeah, some authors have gotten rich writing at a particular level (Dunbar sees it as YA at best), but so what? They're not taking food from your plate or money out of your pocket so far as I can see. Who really cares if a lot of people out there are trying to write like Stephanie Meyers, Laurell Hamilton, or Max Brooks? Those people, by and large, are going to fall by the wayside with the next wave of whatever that occurs when someone produces a really good horror novel that finally gets published (I'd bet it's going to be someone here, eventually).

The real beef seems to be that of "literate" horror vs "YA" horror.

Well, to be honest, that's a false argument. All horror is, to some extent, YA by its very nature. People love to be scared. They love to feel like the little kid scared of what's under the bed or hiding in the closet or opening the attic door. It does not require great "literatary" ability to write a horror novel. That's been well-proven by the current wave of popularity of "vampire bodice rippers". Nobody's going to say that Stephanie Meyers is a great writer, but guess what - she sells books! Nobody's going to say that World War Z is the Frankenstein of its day, but guess what - I liked it!

It's not about literature, it's about entertainment.

Entertainment sells books and that's the bottom line with publishers and authors. That's the way publishers make their living and that's the way authors get paid.

It's not about literature, it's about entertainment.

My books aren't going to receive any awards for their literary contributions to society, but I hope, one day, to sell a few books and get paid. That's my bottom line. Getting paid means I have to entertain and in order to entertain I have to tell a ripping good story that not only catches a reader's imagination, it must first go through a whole series of agents, editors, and publishers before those readers will ever even see it.

So, if you don't like a particular book or a series or even a particular author, it seems to me that rather than bitching about the genre you write in and despairing about its literary value you might try upholding and motivating new authors in the genre to do the best they can and get themselves published. Nobody's holding anyone hostage to any genre. If you don't like the genre you're writing in, get out. Stop writing or try telling a different type of story.

As I said yesterday, it is within the capability of anyone writing today to produce a work that has the potential to change an entire genre.

All you have to do is stop bitching about everybody else and do it.

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