Lunatics and Gravelings, it’s time again for another edition of Get Jack’d. This time around I have a fellow purveyor of the macabre, C.W. LaSart – who is scratching at her coffin to hop out and chat. So, without further foreplay, let’s get down and evil.
JW: I just want to jump to the meat on the bones here – horror. I believe you are a fellow traveler of the dark hayride I call horror. I’ve found, since really digging in deep with the genre, it’s a ride only the passionate should undertake. It’s not YA or Paranormal, where the genre alone will help to boost your sells. You’re most likely not going to have scantily clad woman and abs of titanium on your covers seducing readers into a web of sex and lies. Instead you have the writer’s soul burning within to bring to light a story that must be told – and one that will hopefully have the reader skittering to the world underneath their bed.
But for me, horror is about so much more than being frightened. Horror is a dive into the depths of the human condition – into a place where most either deny exists or most are afraid to peek into. Not that every word I write is soul-ripping and night-terror inducing. No writer can bring that 100% of the time. But I do strive to always take the reader on a dark journey into an off-center world they may not have known existed before – and help them to realize they actually enjoy it. To me that is horror – the realization that something of the grotesque or horrific actually appeals to you. Like my morbid fascination with Nazi Germany. Yes I think they were all monsters and were part of the deepest dive into the depths of depravity ever known to mankind – but that’s part of what is so fascinating about it. It’s like a car wreck – you don’t want to look, but you simply can’t help it!
CWL: Ah yes. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I suspect everyone has that dark place inside them, that fascination with the morbid or taboo. Those people who deny it, generally tend to be the ones who spend their time glued to the news, watching every horrible thing that happens in the world with bated breath. But they can justify it as nothing more than keeping informed. Still, the fascination is there. I think getting your dark fix from fiction is a healthier outlet. The evil that we read may be based on fact, rooted in reality (though many times not), but it is a diversion from real life. The real world is a scary place. It always has been. Taking a walk through a morbid world between the pages of a book is a welcome release from the mundane fears that we face on a daily basis. Besides, there’s nothing interesting or titillating about worrying about the economy and your job security.
JLW: It’s funny that you mention that. I am of the belief that those who deny darkness the most are the ones who have the deepest, darkest secrets they feel must be hidden from the world. My step-daughter was asking me the other day about gay men who feel compelled to marry women and put up a front of being “normal”. It’s a sad world we live in that such behavior has to occur. But to many, those deep, dark secrets would simply undo the fabric of their worlds.
And you’re right – if you really dig deep into the muck and mire of your life, how interesting is the economy of living? We all struggle from time to time – it’s almost a universal. Every marriage has its ups and downs, every child breaks the heart of their parent(s). Why spend so much time and effort being consumed by those inevitabilities that you have little to no control over. Like the stock market – now that (to me) is real terror!
Which brings up another point – at some intersection in time and space, it’s going to become nearly impossible for us writers of horror to compete with reality! Thank you Bath Salts!
CWL: There certainly is no shortage of craziness to be found on the news lately. It seems when something bad happens, the media flocks to resurrect old stories that they find even remotely similar, which causes people to go into a frenzy about the most ridiculous things. The fact is, these things have always been happening. It’s just that they are being mentioned more now. People have always been depraved. Anyone who reads enough true crime knows that there is no shortage of sick things done by psychopaths. It doesn’t matter how far back you go either.
I do think that there is a rhythm to what is trendy in horror that follows what is going on in society. The popularity of things like the face-eater in Florida will sell a few more zombie books before people get tired and move on to another subject. Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies and Ghosts take their turns at being popular right along with Psychos and Axe Murders. There’s a flow to it. What is hot today will be replaced by something else soon enough. I don’t know about you, but I predict Ghosts will be on the rise next.
JW: I like ghosts. A good ghost story can go a long way in the world of literature. The beauty of the ghost story is that it lends itself to so much. You can have a nice classic haunting, a possession, a modern take on the haunted house – and so much more. Ghosts are timeless and do not have to fall into the traps so many others get caught up – such as the requirement for vampires to be sexy (with abs a plenty and sparkly auras). The ghost is timeless.
But this starts to venture into a gray area that can some times spark a fire under me bum. The fact that other genres have taken captive some of horror’s best monsters – especially the vampire. You can take a monster, like a vampire, and use it in a Paranormal book and call it romance. Then you get the benefit of two genres and fans from two worlds. But you take a horror novel and layer on romance, and you still only have horror. I understand how it works and the difference, but it still is one of those pet peeves of mine. Because of this (and other issues) creatures like the vampire have been watered down and are now more creatures of a romantic than of a bestial passion.
Lovers of horror shudder and unite!
CWL: Have you ever read Wellington’s vampire series? They are some of the most vicious and least romantic monsters I have ever read. I hear what you’re saying though, and you are certainly not the only one who feels that way. It can be very aggravating for those who have grown up loving horror to see their favorite monster being glamorized on every book shelf.
It doesn’t really bother me much. Those versions of the vampire, etc. will remain in romance and YA. They really don’t affect us much. I like coke, but it doesn’t matter if someone else prefers diet. I would even say that the increase in paranormal romance has helped to spur the popularity of horror. Some of those fans will cross the genre line and pick up our books. Some of them will even like straight horror books. Any boost to the horror genre is good.
So I would say… watered-down monsters? Meh, doesn’t really affect me much. Increased popularity for horror? Awesome. Diet coke? Oh hell no! Give me the regular. And read Wellington’s vampire series if you haven’t. You are going to love them.
JW: You make a great point. I never really thought about the possibility that some of those paranormal romance readers might eventually wonder what the real thing is like. And maybe those Twihards will eventually realize there is more depth to monsters than just sparkly love.
Speaking of Coke – have you tried Mexican Coke (and I don’t mean of the Columbian variety). None of that crappy corn syrup stuff – pure cane sugar. Oh it’s mana from heaven. It reminds me of what Coke tasted like as a child.
I’ve not read Wellington’s series. I will though. I’m looking for something new to read. Actually – I just downloaded your book Ad Nauseum to my Kindle. Can’t wait! I eat horror for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and get excited when I find something new and dark to consume.
Back to genre. I think everything is usually cyclical, but with the indie boom in full swing, and readers able to get their hands on millions of cheap books, I think the cycles are going to start intertwining and connecting to the point where it will almost impossible to see the patterns. Sure, there will always be those “oprah-fied” books out there that get categorized as “must reads” by certain cross sections of readers, but other than that I strongly believe it will become ever more impossible to say which genre is more popular at any given time.
Though romance will probably always be at the top. Maybe it’s time for me to write a good, gooey romance novel. 😉
You’ve stated that the watering down of monsters is something that sticks in your craw, but you have just brought up the thing about the industry that bothers me the most at the moment. The indie revolution and its effect on book pricing. I have nothing against those that are choosing the self-pub avenue in publishing. I won’t even get into the quality/quantity debate here as we all know that there are a great many indies who aren’t doing it right, but the pricing issue really gets me.
Writing isn’t easy. It’s work. Hard work. Authors deserve to get paid a fair wage for the entertainment they provide. When you have indies selling their books for $.99 or even giving them away for free, it undermines us all. I realize that the e-revolution is a new enough thing and everyone is trying to get their name out there and figure the ins and outs of a new model. I get that. But when so many give the stuff away too cheap, the consumer begins to expect it from all of us. It devalues the work. People begin to expect lower prices on books that still took the same amount of time, from authors who are dealing with increasing costs of living just like everyone else.
Add in the number of authors who are throwing out five to six barely edited books onto the market every year and it becomes a real mess. I don’t blame readers for being confused about what to look for, the authors are confused as well. I think that we should get paid for our work like everyone else. Now don’t get me wrong, $15 e-books are just as much the problem as free ones. I say that one should take the cost of the print book, remove the cost of printing and production, and what is left over is a fair price for the book. If everyone did this, traditional or indie, we would have a better market and less confusion during what is already a strange time in publishing.
The e-book revolution (often called the indie revolution due to a new ease of self-publishing) is an exciting and ultimately scary time for writers. We are definitely going through growing pains at the moment and struggling to predict the outcome. I really hope that things start to settle down soon and we will be able to see the bigger picture of the future of publishing. I also hope that in this new dawn for writers, the horror industry still continues to present a strong showing. If not, I guess we will both be writing romance 😉
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Jack. I have had a blast doing this interview with you and I truly hope you like Ad Nauseam.
- Website: http://www.cwlasart.com/
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