Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ain't Got the Dreads

I was thinking today, as one does when one is an onanistic as I am, about my writing, and about how hard it is to write a really scary story. I don't think I've ever managed it – please let me know if you disagree. In fact, I don't think I've even managed scary.

Which is unsettling, because I am firm believer that fear in a story occurs in direct proportion to empathy for the characters within it. Does that mean I'm dreadful at characterisation? Well, that's a door I don't particularly want to open.

I'd like to think I've managed disturbing, but that's relatively easy.

Now, I'm wondering if it's because my stories tend to grow the seeds of a particular image or a sentence that starts spinning around in my skull rather than a particular intent to produce one emotion or another. The few pieces I've begun with the desire to create a scare are ones I've never managed to sell.

Perhaps it's just that I scare easily. All you need is a long hallway, or a loud noise behind a door, and I'm begging off to do the washing up, or hiding behind the couch. Sad but true.

Still, I'd really like to one day create the feeling of must-lift-feet-up-onto-the-couch-so-that something-doesn't-grab-my-ankles dreadery that first reading H.P. Lovecraft's Colour from Space or Stephen King's Gramma gave me. Or, better yet, the still haunting – that way lies madness - image of the shifting curtain in Terry Dowling's truly fabulous story Beckoning Nightframe.

So, who's writing stuff that terrifies you? Who am I missing out on?


Anonymous said...

Have you read Dan Simmons' The Terror? It's equal parts disturbing and scary - though a bit long.

Trent Jamieson said...

I keep meaning to.

I love Dan Simmons, and not just because he has written some of the finest science fiction ever. He is a true genre crosser, and a very successful one despite "conventional wisdom that you can't do that.

But hey, so is Charles Stross, and Scott Westerfeld and Ursula Le Guin. So of course you can.

Anonymous said...

It's a definite crossover book - a good mix of grim and mystical.

It's sitting on my shelf if you want to read it sometime.

Trent Jamieson said...

Hey, thanks, I might just take you up on that.

Your shelves must be groaning with all that World Fantasy reading!