Saturday, August 28, 2004

BUT, YOU'RE A HORROR WRITER, MIKE...

Nope, that's the reason why I left the Horror Writer's Association. There's a big difference between the pseudo-dreamworlds that I write and traditional (mass market) horror writing. Here's a horror synopsis (and this is mostly agreed upon by the majority of writers, agents, editors, publishers), something happens to turn the normal life of Joe Blogger into a nightmare. Something invades his territory. Something steals something he has. Something evil comes up from the filth and gazes upon our hero with lust, revenge, envy. It's always the same premise. Good guy is confronted with evil and must resolve it, narratively. Usually over the standard 100,000 words the publishers have deemed a good read ('size isn't everything' still applies here).

I saw far too much of the try-to-resolve-a-horror-thread at the author readings of Horrorfind 2002 convention and I must say I don't wanna fall into the tedious narrative trap of beginning, middle, end. If you look at a standard horror book, they're 70% set up, 30% resolution. And by resolution, I don't mean finalé. 30% resolution applies to that part of the book, usually after the middle of the book as the third reel (in Hollywood parlance) is about to kick in. If you're unlucky and you have fallen foul of a narrative-heavy story, you end up shouting out, "Get to the end!". Most horror books could be edited to the relevant 50%, if I were feeling generous. Horror books should be half the size they are because that's the only relevant part of the book that's good to read, depending on your reading preference this would be either the first 50% (where they are all character) or the second 50% (where they are all narrative resolution).

Most horror writing isn't good to read because it forgets the reader. Horror (like the Hollywood films of the same genre) has become a formulaic weak-ass funfair ride with steep ups and downs and some tight twists and turns that make you go "Oooh!" and "Aaah!" at the appropriate time if you'll surrender yourself to the product. It's mostly story and little character. I am reading a Stephen King book at the moment. I've read many Stephen King books and prefer his more anecdotal short stories. This book INSOMNIA (1994) is a case in point. The back cover blurb says A, B, C. Well, I'm halfway through the book and it hasn't yet go to the A of the back cover blurb. You're sort of wondering when the reason for the book is gonna kick in. In the case of this book I was screaming, "Get to the point!"

I have aimed (in recent books) to move away from this purely Greek narrative style ENTIRELY. I have been concentrating more and more on the ANECDOTAL form of writing, a style that has been prevalent in Japanese fiction for the last couple thousand years. It's a style where you see a slice of a life. There need be no fixed-rule narrative in these character-driven pieces. You are offered a glimpse into a world that is beyond your comprehension. You are a voyeur into that world. This is most fully explored in my forthcoming book Yôroppa from Hellbound Books in 2006 (though this was submitted under the old Hertzan Chimera writing name and I'll have to resolve that issue when I get to it, it might end up being called "Walker" as I was working on some naming conventions last night). In Yôroppa there is no driving narrative, only speculation on the part of the inhabitants of the eponymous seaside town. No one character knows what's going on but as a whole, as a book, we discover what may be happening. It's all speculative, anecdotal, that's Yôroppa's strength. That multi-personal perspective on narrative. Something a little more inventive than a characterless storyline.

Friday, August 27, 2004

HERTZAN CHIMERA R.I.P.

Today is the first day of a new artistic life. I have finally looked with great concentration at what I have achieved with the Hertzan Chimera writing name and must say, it's about time to kill him off, lay him to rest, sling him back in the broom cupboard - what.ev.er. I didn't mind writing under this wacky (and slightly childish) pseudonym for the last fifteen years but I was never totally happy with it when confronted with it in public. It just didn't sound right. I was NEVER Hertzan Chimera in person.

From now on, all my creative output will go under the name I use in everyday life, Mike Philbin.