It was more or less by chance that I wrote The Amazing Morse as my first novel. I had been bouncing a couple of different ideas around when I by chance talked to my brother about writing a book. And somehow it occurred to me that my story would work really well if the main character was a magician. You see, my brother has been a magician all his life and because of that I was fairly well versed in the craft and history of magic. It was quite a happy accident that my plot idea of a man haunted by dreams following a visit to a psychic was a natural match with the idea of a magician as a main character. You see, magicians have always had a connection with spiritualists, especially Houdini, who spent the latter part of his career exposing their secrets. And so it was that my first novel was one that could be placed in the genre known as horror.
When the story of that book had come to its conclusion, I was rather sad to leave it. It wasn’t the characters so much as the ideas and themes that I had developed had only been briefly sketched. They raised so many questions in my own mind that I was really interested in pursuing them. Still, I was ready to move on to my next novel, one set in a future that accentuated the worst aspects of our current society. It was intended to be a warning, a vision of what the seeds we are sowing today will become in the future. It still will be, eventually, unless that future arrives before my book does.
But an author I respect for his knowledge, success, and willingness to share with others said somewhere that the key to making sales for him was writing a series. Now please don’t consider me shallow, but the idea of sales is in every writer’s mind to some degree. It is the dream of us all that we can do for a living what we most love. And besides, the advice was urging me to do what I was wanting to do anyway.
So I wrote a sequel to The Amazing Morse. It came comparatively easily. I committed it to the page relatively painlessly because I was chasing ideas that were of great interest to me. I was pushing my thought processes to the limit, I was expanding my view of the world the way a mountain climber does as he ascends to greater and greater heights. I was breathing rarified air and I was feeling very much alive. In short, I abandoned myself to a goal which I considered worthy of the effort and sacrifice. My second novel, Perchance To Dream, is something I am very proud of.
It’s funny how ideas take a hold of you. Or rather (if you have read my books), it is funny how once starting upon a course you can get stuck in the ruts and be taken along on the journey without much consenting to it. And so I wrote The Association, which followed the themes of Perchance To Dream but instead of relating to an individual I placed the same ideas upon a society. Again I had a growth upon the books that had come before. Sure, I had character growth as well, I had an expansion of the characters and of the physical world they inhabited. But more than that I expanded the ideas that relate to the real world, the one that you and I are living in. Because that for me is what books are all about, understanding life rather than finding an escape from it.
But here’s the problem I now face, the original idea I had when I started writing this post: I have now, after four novels, basically placed myself in a particular genre, I have stereotyped myself. I am a horror novelist, albeit not the kind many are looking for when they do a search. I don’t think I fit the genre neatly, but I can’t think of where else I would fit. And sometimes I realize that by fitting myself in that niche that I have cut myself off from all that lies outside it. I often realize that a church or a school is not a proper place to talk about my work. And I don’t like that at all! And yet at the same time, I am proud of what I have created. It is a worthy addition to the list of books that are available. And if you grant me my natural desire to have pride in my efforts, I will tell you that I honestly believe that my books have the potential to make the world a much better place than it is now. That was my intent when I started tonight, to explain why my writing is worthy of consideration despite a genre that might initially turn people off. Unfortunately, I felt compelled to explain things a little more deeply. So I will save it for my next blog post to explain the value of the horror genre.