This is one of those writerly blog tour things where I've been tagged by another writer to discuss three things I don't write and three things I do, and where I'll pass on the baton to another three writers to blog their own thoughts. Needless to say, all these writers' blogs are worth reading and so is their writing. In my case, Stephen Palmer tagged me, and without further ado here are my responses:
Three Things I Don't Write:
It's rare that I touch politics in my fiction because I don't find the subject matter lends itself towards imagination. The closest I've come is my short story, "Beyond Each Blue Horizon", which appeared in an anthology supporting writers in Sierra Leone, and "The Opaque District", an austerity story which will appear in the forthcoming "Horror Uncut" anthology. Generally, though, I leave politics well alone. I find that political stories can be clichéd, preachy and tend towards the polemic.
Many horror stories focus on revenge, from beyond the grave, jilted partners, townsfolk retribution and that kind of thing. Me, I think life's too short for revenge - both in reality and in fiction. And again, these kinds of stories tend to inevitably fall into cliché: the revenge turns sour or misguided or something nasty happens to the 'right' person and that's it and no more. Because my mind isn't attuned to revenge, I find I avoid it in fiction.
I'm not a fan of gore for the sake of gore, and whilst I have written some disturbing fiction I like to think that at the bottom line horror should be concerned with relationships and the things that can go awry in a realistic manner, rather than down the torture porn route. The same applies to monsters - give it a rest. And the number of stories where someone's eye is gouged out never really convey the absolute horror of the act. Sometimes words are not enough, and with excessive gore they really demonstrate anything other than the paucity of the writer's imagination. Hence my avoidance.
Three Things I Do:
This is a theme I find myself coming back to over and over again, no doubt because I am absolutely terrified and appalled by the concept of my own death. Having no belief in an afterlife I get stone cold fear contemplating my demise and using themes in my fiction of immortality probably equates to my own security blanket whereas others might have religion or spirituality. My longer works all deal with immortality: in "Moon Beaver" the title character is on the run from it ("if you lose track of time, time will lose track of you"), in "And God Created Zombies" the main character has it without realising it, in "Ponthe Oldenguine" I deal with the immortality of fame, and in my crime novel "The Immortalists" two crime lords chase immortality as a pelican might chase a dead fish. Yup, immortality is my bugbear and I need to attain it (preferably by dying, and not through my work - to paraphrase Woody Allen).
"Identity is the crisis can't you see" (Poly-Styrene). The meaning of identity has always interested me: who are we, who we are, and how our identity changes dependent on those we interact with. I see identity as something fluid and transmutable, not set in stone. Examination of identity within fiction is always intriguing because the characters are a construct of the writer, and the writer can therefore hold back information in much the same way as a real person retains secrets. I believe it's impossible to know much about other people and just as difficult to know a great deal about oneself outside of the routine social system we decide to fix ourselves within. So dealing with themes of identity is always to the fore in my work.
Reality is something else that intrigues me. Quite simply, what is it? I don't have the answer to that question, although it's a certainty that each individual's reality is quite distinct from another's. Reality can be fascinating to explore within fiction, not only because you can create the character's world but also by the examination of the world we think we live in. As you can tell, I find reality to be a nebulous concept: the only surety is that there are no sureties. I'd be hard pressed to confirm the existence of anyone or anything other than myself. That's why reality is such a fun concept to play with. Particularly when an individual's reality can change melodramatically at the drop of anything at all.
I hope that's been interesting. I've chosen to tag two writers, Douglas Thompson and Gio Clairval to take the BlogHop further. Enjoy!