With the release of Camp Hollybrook coming in a few months from Damnation Books, I’ve had folks ask me what it’s about. I usually say something like, “It’s a violent and slightly amusing Bigfoot novella”, and for most folks that does it just fine. Of course, I’ve also gotten repeats of yet another question that goes a little bit like this:
Why so violent?
I’ve discussed this before, more than once, yet I feel it’s worth repeating every now and then. I don’t condone violence. Not in the real world. It sucks. Real people get hurt all the time…good people who in many cases were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s reality, and it sucks. So why do I write such violent fiction?
Well, it’s all in the word, isn’t it? If reality sucks, then a big part of being a writer is taking people away from that reality, at least for a little while. When you’re in a fictional environment, anything goes. Some people (myself included) get a real kick out of being scared. Fake scared. Like books and movies scared. Sure, I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Hell, I’d rather pull my eyelashes out one by one with a rusty pair of pliers than listen to country music, but it’s popular and it sells so there’s got to be something to it. It’s just not my cup of tea.
So why violent fiction? I’ve said it about Stripped and I’ll say it again about Camp Hollybrook: because when you close the book or turn off the movie, everything is back to normal. For however long you spent with your choice of medium, you were transported to a world where anything goes. You can be scared, you can squirm as absolutely horrifying things happen to characters that you’ve (hopefully) come to love. When they win in the end, everyone feels good. You close the book, and the world is back to normal. Isn’t that just the greatest thing?
But can’t you write anything that’s not so violent?
Short answer: yes, of course. Long answer: yes and no…and I don’t know. If you’ve read enough of my short fiction, you’ve no doubt read something that’s not super violent. Yes, I have written things where no one gets torn to shreds. Before you ask, no, I don’t think I have any stories where no one dies. Stories end up as they are because I simply write whatever story comes out. It’s that simple (and confusing, so I try not to read too much into it). Is there something weird about me that makes me start killing my characters as soon as they’re developed? I don’t think so. Or maybe there is? I don’t care either way.
If you’ve ever met me, you know I’m one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Actually, with all the people I’ve met and worked with through the years, writers in general tend to be some of the nicest. I think I’m in good company, and if someone believes my stories are going to summon the devil, I’m okay with that. Because it’s stupid. No, really…It is.
You know what? I think I’ll let Chest and Brock handle this:
– Reed Rothchild – He’ll fuck in his own time…
Long story short, keep your nightmares on the page and you’ll sleep better at night. It works for me, and with as popular as horror books and films continue to be I suspect I’m far from alone. It’s saying something when one of the best selling authors of all time (regardless of genre) is Stephen King. That guy has written some horrifying shit; he’s even written generally taboo things like killing kids and animals. We forgive him because he’s awesome. He’s immensely popular because he’s taken millions of people to other worlds where they can be scared, they can laugh, they can cry, and most importantly, they can forget about whatever shitty thing is going on in their lives for a brief period of time.
You know what that is? That’s magic.