Okay, so, yeah, about this horror novel stuff that’s been going on…
I didn’t think my first big piece of published work, the one that’s going released for mass consumption in a few months, would be a horror novel. In hindsight, I should have. I’m good friends with the genre. Have been since I was a kid.. But we were always those kinds of friends who hung out with each other only when the mood was just right. We were only a thing when I needed some escapism. Occasionally, we’d be exclusive. Other times, I invited other genres to tag along, or I’d just eschew horror altogether (see previous, unpublished work for more details…or not as the case may be). At any rate, we were always fine that way, but no matter what, horror was always there, lurking in the background as a character or theme or setting …something.
As a result, I had to feed the ghost. I had to write everything down.
It began, just a seed, a little dose of inspiration. The lurker, a setting. Years ago, my little sister got married at a strange “resort” hotel in the middle of Texas hill country. The closest town was a good drive away, so anyone without a car would have to rely on someone else with a car to get them out of there. As if the isolation wasn’t bad enough, the place itself, set up to look like a miniature version of Santa Fe, had all of these “quirks” (the kind glossy advertising would call “eccentric” and “quaint”) like a tiny, underground chapel that had a man-made grotto complete with a pool, not necessarily ideal for a swim though. Another building held a trophy room, a taxidermist’s dream. The furnishings in each guest suite were heavy and ornate, tacky “antiques,” and everything was dusty and smelled of mildew. Wiring was exposed from sockets, telephones didn’t work, and the smaller guest suites didn’t have windows at all. Even worse, I thought, was the fact that there was no night staff whatsoever. Plus, there was virtually no cell reception.
Perfect setting, in other words, that would inspire a horror novel.
The story wouldn’t emerge until much later, inspired in part by family bonds, benzo withdrawal syndrome, and typical in-law issues. I tossed in cannibalism and traditions to make it all much worse, and it grew into something…something monstrous and gory. I’d had the ending first, but little did I know, it would change two more times because it never felt right.
The ending as it is-my friend and mentor put it best-will be polarizing for readers. That said, I don’t care. The ending I’d finally settled on IS the correct ending to it. It came to me on a drive home, and when I got to my house, I just sat there in my car, mulling it over and laughing at the obviousness of it and that it hadn’t struck me until then. But in order to write that ending, I had to change whole scenes and add in others. In the end though (oh, haha… “in the end”), it worked.
All of that aside, here’s the thing…
I am incredibly anxious about having it out there. These horror authors, these people I know whose work I love, I don’t know how they do it, releasing their darkness to everyone. I confessed to some curious students yesterday that I was going to be at my most vulnerable upon the novel’s release because it’s…well, it’s twisted and vicious…and I’m sure as hell not. My family, friends, and colleagues will see me differently, I know this, and I know many of them will probably be repulsed by me…by it….
Reception is fiction though. I keep telling myself that. It’s just a work of fiction.
Am I crazy to be so nervous about it though?