Ten years ago, if you had asked me what genre I’d never write, I would have instantly said, “Science fiction.”
Why? Well, because my only experiences with Sci-fi were things like Star Wars, Star Trek, and similar works. Not my favorite things. Ok, that’s a bit of an understatement. I couldn’t stand it. However, my life has been broadened and I’ve seen that there is more to sci-fi than I previously thought.
I spent a long time, really trying to imagine me doing horror in any fashion. I can’t. For one thing, I think it requires a skill level that I don’t have. I’d like to develop those skills– I think good horror writers are likely some of the best writers out there. I would just prefer to use those skills writing about things not intended to horrify. I can handle suspense, murder, even a small dip into the mind of a twisted person, but I cannot and will not (and I can’t see that changing) drag my reader into the pit with such things. I think Dee Henderson did a brilliant job of showing the true evil of such things in her book Danger in the Shadows. She took us into the mind of a tortured victim and into the actions of an evil man, but all without drenching us in those things. She did not have to drag us down to write a brilliantly crafted and realistic novel about evil people doing unspeakable things. She didn’t speak it… she didn’t write it… and yet she took us to the edge and let us breathe just a hint of the stench of that sin. It was a perfect balance and I think it’s as far as I’d want to go. I do not handle gore, violence, and warped minds well in books or on the screen (particularly not on screen). I just don’t see how I could write it in good conscience.
Perhaps that’s the true meaning about “write what you know.” I may not know what it’s like to have eight children dumped on me at twenty-two. I may not know what it’s like to live in isolation of all other humanity for most of my life. I may not know what it is like to be jerked out of my time and thrust into life 125 years into the future, but they are within my realm of comfort. I know the circumstances because I am familiar with them through immersion in reading or on screen. I’ve never gone there with horror.
I think that is probably what that phrase means for me. Learn something new every day.
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