Now that you know where I will be focusing my attention today, we shall press on.
One cold morning, my mother was walking me to school. On the left side of the street, was a mountain of dirt, probably twenty feet tall. Just beside it was a smaller mound, about two feet tall. To this day, I have no idea why those piles of dirt were sitting there, nor why I was so fascinated by them. My mother recollects much more than I. This is what she told me:
We were walking along, not paying each other much attention, when I just stopped. Mom tugged at me, but I wouldn’t come. I just kept staring at those piles of dirt, hypnotized. Mom asked me what was wrong. The conversation went something like this:
“There are bodies under there,” I said.
“How do you know that?” Mom returned.
“Because I see them.”
“Well I don’t.”
“That’s because you can’t see what I see.”
“Really? Think we should we call the police?” She asked, jokingly.
Rather serious, I said: “Yeah. I think that would be a good idea.”
That day was to be my first day of Kindergarten. I was five years old.
Horror has always been with me. As far back as I can remember, it has been a staple of my life. I grew up in Southern California back in the ’80s and ’90s. Crime was horrible, drugs were everywhere, and gangs killed each other over what color clothes the other was wearing; the house I lived in was even shot up during a drive-by when I was nine. Their target had been the dealer at the end of our block, a douchebag named, Willy. They had not only hit the wrong end of the street, but the wrong side. At least nowadays, with GPS and Google Earth, these idiots can actually kill who they set out to in the first place.
I wrote my first story on my mother’s typewriter when I was six years old. It went a little something like this:
“I like driving my Fiero. A big truck pulled out in front of me. I got out and blew it up with my bazooka.”
I was a product of my violent environment, even at six.
Three years later, and four days before my tenth birthday, I was attacked by a gigantic dog named Romo. For those of you that have read the rough draft of my novel, The End, you will recognize that name. He tore me up pretty bad. But Romo also taught me a valuable lesson. Fear can be your friend. I was so terrified when he bit me, that my survival instincts kicked in and I fought back. Had I not been so scared, so fearful for my life, I might have pussied out and drawn up into a ball, waiting to be devoured. Fear was a great instructor. The emotion prepared me for the life I would live when I grew up. Because I was acquainted with horror at such an early age, I felt I knew enough about it to start trying to scare others. I soon found out that I was good at it.
Horror, for me, is an all encompassing genre. You can add horror to anything and it works – comedy, drama, science fiction, mysteries – you name it and horror has accompanied it somewhere throughout time. It’s like the color black, or jeans – it goes with anything.
As a lover of all things dark and terrifying, I eventually stumbled onto Stephen King – it just so happens, it was the same year Romo got a hold of me. My mother was part of the SK Library, and received a new King novel every month. The first one I got my greedy little hands on was Dolores Claiborne. That book frightened me beyond words. Spoiler alert!… Dolores tosses her husband down a well. But he doesn’t die right away. That concept, alone, kept me up for three nights straight. I kept hearing Dolores’s husband calling for help, scratching away at the stone walls of the well. Funny part is, most of King’s fans don’t think that book should be in any horror category. I say: Try reading it when you’re nine years old.
Stephen King, along with Dean Koontz, Bentley Little, Richard Laymon, Peter Straub, and John Saul, all helped to raise me. Their stories – their horrors – made me the author I am today. I will be eternally grateful to those guys. Thankful that they scared the shit out of me on a regular bases.
In closing, any good piece of writing garners a reaction of some sort; whether it be a simple burst of laughter, a solitary tear, or a gasp followed by a cringe, it is still a success in the eyes of the author. I, for one, would like you to check twice under the bed after reading one of my stories. I hope that you’ll look a little harder at the man next door, or the old lady at the grocery store, before passing them by. Horror can be found in something as simple as a coffee cup, or a statue of Jesus welcoming you into his embrace. You just have to look.
Here, you can borrow my glasses.