On occasion, I write very bad things; from zombies eating babies, to a holy war between Heaven and Hell, to serial killers of all shapes and sizes. In light of the horror that has befallen so many across the world, I am often asked how I manage to pen the horrific and not lose my mind or my soul. I thought it time I addressed this issue — not only for readers of mine, but for other authors who might be grappling with the same type of issue.
For some, the stark, cold reality that evil lurks at every juncture in life is almost too much to handle. With those people, evil is a very black and white concept — it’s either there, or it is not. For them, the idea of separating fact from fiction becomes nearly impossible. If evil exists, in any form, then it can certainly cross the plane of concept and from fiction to reality. In other words, if I write about a man, twisted by his past, murdering transgender males, then it can happen. To those who cannot see the great grey in-between, my words can infect the innocent and turn them down a dark path that will most likely lead to prison and, ultimately, a soul singed in the fires of Hell. Along these lines, the plots, characters, and novels I write could easily transform a legion of innocent saints into a horde of demons.
The truthful end of that spectrum, is the same argument that can be used with violence of any medium (video games, movies, music, etc) — we, human beings, are in control of our actions and if a simple passage in a book is enough to flip a villainous switch, then something, some deep seeded problem, was already present.
The same argument can be applied to another genre. For this, you will need to suspend every ounce of disbelief you’ve ever owned. I’m talking about the Romantic Comedy (or RomCom — as it were). If the RomCom had its way, city streets would be lined with couples holding hands and making mad passionate googoo eyes at one another. Every man would be a hopeless romantic and would forgo his own wants and needs to make sure his better half was pleased on every front.
As well, every tween and teen on the planet would be a sniveling, whining, uproarious puddle of emo — oh wait, that’s already true. Bag that one.
This argument has been going on since I was a pre-teen. I distinctly remember families in court suing one another because their children were influenced by Dungeons and Dragons, KISS, or Judas Priest. They wanted to waste their time and taxpayer money trying to prove it was someone else, and not their sub-par parenting, that caused their offspring to drop their marbles down the drain to Hell and have a go at murder. Now that we have some perspective (and have seen Gene Simmons at his “best”), do you honestly believe KISS were actually Kings In Satan’s Service? Seriously? And the very idea that Rob Halford (the Fairy Godmother of Metal) held sway over anyone not in assless chaps, is absurd (and, yes, I know… all chaps are assless).
This brings us to me. How do I manage to continue writing about evil, monsters, and death. This is actually quite simple — I know, full well, the difference between fantasy and reality. I can watch horror and separate it from real life. I am fully aware if one of the minions of Hell arises to right a tragic wrong set about by God, that my book Hell’s Muse was not the reason it happened. I know, beyond any shadow of any doubt, should the apocalypse happen, it’s not because of my zombie series. I can go to sleep at night, knowing my fiction is just that — fiction. My words are not prophesy, not a map to a revolution… they are entertainment and, at best, something to make you think twice about turning the lights out at night.
What you do with those words is your choice — but I seriously doubt they will drive you to evil deeds… done dirt cheap, or otherwise.
These are the things I have to tell myself. Why? It’s an ugly, evil world out there. The very thought that my writings could inspire the next child murderer, serial killer, or hate crime spree could easily cripple me with fear and sorrow. I just have to put my faith in humanity’s ability to compartmentalize fact and fiction.
I love writing and I love horror. Since I was a child, I’ve watched movies that would make the average human curl into a ball and suck their thumbs — yet I remain one of the most pacifistic persons I know.
I think (or at least hope) that every writer knows the kind of power they wield with their words. I don’t take that kind of influence lightly and never want to find out the characters and plots of my creation snapped the brittle sanity of man and sent us into a downward spiral of evil.
It could be worse — I could writing tomes about sparkly, hunky vampires to further corrupt the average teenage girl into thinking it’s okay to get pregnant, so long as the baby daddy is smokin’ hot and sparkles in the sun.