Rattling Bones and Writing Horror
By Chris Ringler
Oh, pity us poor fools who fall in love with the horror genre. Pity us because once you’re in love, man, it’s hard to kick the old ghost outta bed in the morning. I, for better or worse, love horror and part of that love came from the movies and writers I found as a kid. The logical, maybe, outcome of this silly infatuation with horror was to jump knee deep into it, and so, since being a teenager, I have been a writer. Now, I am a writer of no great import or fame, but I have had my nods toward legitimacy, but those aren’t the reasons I write. No. I write because I have to. And I think that’s the heck of it with anyone that works in the arts – you do it because you have no choice.
I started pretty simply, writing stories that were high on blood and imitation and low on real chills but these old stories were the first steps that I took as a writer and without those old stories, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Now, I didn’t set out to be a horror writer, and am not sure I would say I am wholly one now but oh, I can tell you with all certainty that I write stories that are meant to remind you of what it was like to be a child in the dark, when all is quiet but for the sounds coming from your closet or under your bed. I started writing, seriously writing, because of all the weirdness that was roaming around in me, the germs of stories waiting to be born. It was like wherever I was, whatever I was doing I could see some potential for horror. Now, I have never had aspirations to be the next big anyone, nor have I tried to imitate any of the people that influenced me but it’s hard not to want to do honor the writers that filled you with the passion in the first place.
And that’s where you get to the core of it. You write, well, I write for a couple reasons – the passion, and the past. I write because I have to. Even when it aggravates me, when it drives me nuts, when it makes me wonder why on earth I keep doing it, well, even then you keep writing. Even when the fear of not ever getting anything seen creeps in you keep at it. It’s a passion that drives you. A fire that can’t be put out, no matter what you do. And after the passion there’s the past. The want and desire to pay forward the things that influenced you. The want to inspire people as you were inspired and thus get people to look at the people who inspired you. As a writer I have so many people that inspired me – Kathe Koja, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Toni Morrison, H.P. Lovecraft – and the list could go on and on and I feel I owe some debt to them for their work and their inspiration. So I want to write stories as a tribute, in the hopes that I can capture some of the darkness that they passed to me, and so we pass this darkness from person to person to person in the hope of keeping intelligent, scary, good horror alive.
Writing is a challenge, but it’s always been a challenge and always will be. The challenge now comes in getting it out there. The publishers are not taking as many looks at new fiction as they used to, and the same goes for agents and magazines. So it hasn’t gotten easier. Only, it has. With self publishing starting to gain legitimacy and the advent of the internet you can always have an avenue to get your work out. Patience is always the key when it comes to writing – the writing, the editing, the editing, the editing, and then getting it out to people. Phew. It’s daunting, but it can be worthwhile. It can be amazing, really. And with the advent of e-books and e-readers we have a new world opening up to us. Me, I dream of a day when I can match a story with images, with video, with footnotes, with every manner of device that will not bog the story down but which will help to tell it. To advance it. It’s scary…and so, so exciting to think of what technology will do for the story. It seems sometimes as if books and reading are passing away but is evolving and we’re at the edge of it. It’s our job now not just to tell stories, to tell good stories, but to, bit by bit, figure out how to make technology help us tell our stories new and exciting ways – in ways that will make them last until the next generation is ready to pay our scares forward. And as for me, I’ll be waiting for you, not under your bed, or in your closet, but just out of sight and watching from the dark, and waiting, quietly waiting for you to just fall asleep.
CHRIS RINGLER: I am the author of three books – Back From Nothing, This Beautiful Darkness, and The Meep Sheep and have had stories published on 3 AM Press, and in the anthology books Bare Bone 6, 7 and 9 as well as in Cthulhu Sex Magazine. I have also received Honorable Mention in Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror numbers 19 and 20. I have also been featured on Horror Addicts. http://www.grimringler.wordpress.com