Friday, July 13, 2012

GHOST WRITER: Horror can be heartwarming and a little scary at the same time

May I start off by saying that I’m not a big fan of horror fiction? It might be sacrilegious to state that and then go on to mention that my first published YA novella, which just happens to release today, Friday the 13th, is a ghost story. So, how did I come to write something in a genre that I admit isn’t my favorite? Horror stories, I’ve found, generally fall into one of two categories. The first one, truly dark fiction, tries (and often succeeds, depending on the skill of the writer) in scaring the bejeebers out of its readers and giving them nightmares. It exists pretty much solely for that purpose. The second kind of horror story is the type I’m more fond of, and it falls into a category I like to call “see-through horror.” There’s a bit of a scare here and there, all right, just enough to make the pulse quicken. But the real purpose is to show normal human beings finding the courage to deal with their fear of the unknown, “see their way through it,” and come out wiser, better, and possibly even nicer, people by the last page. These characters discover in the course of events there are very few people, places or things in the world which are purely evil. Monsters can simply be misunderstood creatures who crave affection but have never found it; a haunted house was once a beloved home until someone who lived there suffered an injustice so terrible his or her “spirit” could not move on; a beautiful and/or valuable object brings tragedy to all who possess it because the original owner was betrayed or even killed due to the greed of another. The possible circumstances that can create a “see-through” horror story are endless, but I think the path it follows is always the same: the character(s) feel the fear, but move forward, anyway…they’re open to understanding…and, finally, they manage to right the wrong that caused the horror to begin with. I believe that’s what I’ve done with “Ghost Writer,” but I’ll let my readers be the judge. Here’s a taste of the story, where Malden and Jackson discuss their next move. (BTW, for those who’ve asked, Malden’s name is pronounced “Moll-den.” You might remember the late character actor, Karl Malden?) Excerpt from Chapter Eight: An hour later, standing in the parlor, Malden watched the rain blowing in sheets across the grass and through the trees, still unable to shake the haunting image from her mind. Jackson sat nearby. Even though Emily had vanished in less than a second, Malden knew what she’d seen. But their mothers hadn’t noticed anything unusual, and now the two women sat at a small table on the other side of the room, playing cards by the light of an oil lamp, as if it were a normal day. “Malden, darlin’, why don’t you come away from the window?” She turned toward Jackson, hesitated, and then settled on the edge of the antique sofa next to him. Her fists clenched and relaxed, as if some part of her had to keep moving, even if she was sitting down. “What do we do next?” she asked. “We wait for the storm to end,” Jackson replied, placing his hands over hers, stilling them. “And then, whenever the power comes back on, we go onto your computer and finish this, once and for all.” “What do you mean ‘finish this’?” She glanced toward their moms and lowered her voice. “Emily’s already dead. What else can we do for her?” “Ghost Writer” is available now for all e-readers from MuseItUp Publishing and will be coming soon to Amazon.com, Smashwords.com and BN.com.
About the author: Growing up along the Texas Gulf Coast, Vala Kaye was a history buff, and an avid reader of romance and science fiction. After graduating from college with a double major in Communications and History, Vala now works in advertising sales support in the southern California area. She is addicted to movies, word games and salsa dancing. As a non-paying second job, she is on the staff of two black cats. Vala Kaye posts occasional reports, news and ramblings on her blog. Visit today: Vala Kaye's Other World

5 comments:

Rosalie Skinner said...

This was hard to read without formatting. An interesting extract. You ideas on how to create 'horror' are terrific. It isn't a genre I read or watch, but creating a little 'scare' in any genre can help tension. Thanks for sharing.

J Q Rose said...

"So, how did I come to write something in a genre that I admit isn’t my favorite?" I completely understand this since I have the same feeling. My first release, Sunshine Boulevard, was put in the mystery/horror categories. Yes, I do love mysteries, but the horror in this book is what I call "light horror", not dark which is what I believe you described so well. Enjoyed your post on "see-through horror."

Vala Kaye said...

Yes, Rosalie, I know. :( Unfortunately, someone else had to post this for me, and the proper spacing disappeared in translation, so to speak. I promise to do a better job with it next time.

Vala Kaye said...

Thanks for the comment, J Q. I just starting wondering why I like certain scary stories/movies, etc., and not others, and figured this out for myself. For example, I've tried to read Stephen King, and he's had some interesting concepts in his short stories and novels, but his characters are never compelling for me. I decided that I don't care much about something happening if I don't care about who it's happening to.

J Q Rose said...

You are so right, Vala. You have to care about the characters.