I never meant to write a horror story.
It’s not even a genre I enjoy. I can count how many horror movies I’ve watched on my fingers, and with novels it’s pretty much the same. I recall a brief Stephen King phase in high school, whereupon I was terrified by Pennywise the clown in It. I read a novel or two by Dean Koontz, which may have been more ‘eerie thrillers’ than actual horror novels.
In fact, the only horror novels I actually love are not considered ‘horror’ by today’s standards. They are now considered classic gothic novels, mainly Dracula and Frankenstein, the latter being one of my favorite novels of all time. Along with other classic works by H.G. Wells, like the Invisible Man and The Island of Dr. Moreau, that is what my horror background amounts to.
The truth of the matter is, I don’t enjoy blood and guts for the sake of watching or reading about it. I’m not entertained by teenagers being beheaded and eviscerated by some invulnerable creature from the grave or their nightmares.
Well, unless you add a speculative element.
Technically, films like The Fly (1986 version) The Thing, and even Alien follow simple but effective horror tropes. Even The Terminator and Predator have a number of similarities with movies featuring undying stalkers like Jason and Michael Myers. The difference in those movies is the science fiction element that elevates the well-worn horror element into something new, or different.
I suppose all of that factored into writing the Aberration. It was mainly an exercise in my head that evolved into a story. I work the second shift in a flour mill, the same as the characters in the story. After day shift leaves, most of the time there are only three employees left in this massive, ten-story building full of machines. I can literally go for hours and not see any of my co-workers as I do my routine walk-throughs and checks. Being a writer, my mind naturally entertained itself by imagining all sorts of sinister possibilities that could occur. Those disturbed notions eventually worked themselves in the first draft of what would become The Aberration.
That draft was much less defined than the final result. The main character of Guy was more unstable, and the reader was left at the end unsure of whether the entire account really occurred, or if Guy was insane and murdered everyone in the mill. Had I intended for The Aberration to be a standalone story I might have left it that way. But as I revised, I realized there was potential for a series. I wanted to know more about Guy’s background and what the Aberration truly was. And so the story evolved, introducing Guy’s mysterious past through flashbacks, and clearly defining the conclusion.
Writing horror is a bizarre experience. I used to think Stephen King had to be mentally disturbed to come up with all of the horrific novels he wrote. After writing the Aberration, I had to challenge that notion, or else admit I was partially disturbed as well. There were moments I cringed within myself when writing the novel, wondering where in the hell those ideas came from. As stated, I’m not a horror person. Yet and still, the events of The Aberration are pretty horrific. I have to deal with the fact that they came from somewhere within my subconscious.
And I’m okay with that.
Writing is, after all, a strange and wonderful occupation. I am constantly surprised by developments that spring up, and can only try to keep up and record what I find. I am currently writing the sequel to The Aberration, entitled Torment of Tantalus. And much like the bizarre Others, the story continues to evolve. I like to think of The Aberration as similar to the movie Alien. The experience is claustrophobic, taking place in a singular location, the horror more intense. The sequel will be much like Aliens: more action oriented, yet still possessive of its horror roots. And already, I have ideas for a third novel that will stray even further from the basement of horror and enter more mainstream avenues.
Because I’m not a horror writer. Unless the story makes me one.