“I, myself, am strange and unusual.” – Lydia Deetz (Beetlejuice)
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved monsters. My mom proudly tells people the stories: I cut teeth watching the Universal Monsters, I had a treasured Wolfman I carried around named Wolfy. One of her favorite stories involves me sitting outside with a black pot making “potions” while our new neighbors moved in. I idolized Elvira instead of pop stars. I grew up with a special place in my heart for Frankenstein’s monster and hunted for ghosts. The same year I got my first cellphone, I got my first Ouija board. It’s safe to say I started out a weirdo.
By the time I was 13, I was obsessed with slasher movies. I had pictures of Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, and Jason Voorhees hanging in my locker. My older brother Ben took me to see Freddy VS Jason in theaters as my 13th birthday present. This was the point in my life it moved into obsession. I read horror. I watched horror. It started coming through in my art, in how I dressed, etc. Most importantly, I started writing horror.
For those who have never heard the story: When I was in the 8th grade, I had a nightmare, and this nightmare was so intense, I had to write it down just to cope with it. A few months later, in my Advanced English class, we were assigned a project. We had to write a short story of oh-so-many pages or more. I was probably the most excited kid in the class. This was my chance to really prove myself. And the first thing that came to my mind was my nightmare. Which, luckily, I had written down.
So, I poured my heart into it. I made myself relive the awful nightmare, and then amplified it. It was already scary, and then I transformed it into something more, something that really made people uncomfortable. By the time it was finished, I was afraid to turn it in to my teacher. What if it backfired and I ended up in counseling? What if I ended up in trouble? Or she thought it was awful? I turned it in anyway and put it out of my mind.
The next day, when I was in line for lunch, my teacher found me and pulled me aside, only telling me she needed to talk to me about my story. I knew this was it: I was in trouble. But instead of being scolded, or finding out I was going to see the counselor instead of getting lunch, she told me that she loved my story. She had apparently been reading and grading our stories before she went to bed the night before, and had gotten through a few before she came to mine. After getting completely hooked into the story, once she was finished, she had to step outside for a few moments afterward to calm down. I was maybe 13 or 14, and I had done something pretty amazing for my age.
And then, she asked if she could let the other teachers read it, as well as read it to my class. I was shocked, but agreed. She said she’d read it to the other kids without naming who I was until it was finished.
This, my friends… This is the catalyst to my life. This is what took me from writing stories to keep my brain sane, to writing stories to keep my brain sane with the intent of making a career from them. I was so anxious waiting for her to read it, I didn’t think it could get worse. Until it did, the moment she started. I watched, fascinated, as my classmates reacted to my words. Kids that hated me as well as my own friends were all on the edge of their seats. For something I had written.
I remember the overwhelmed feeling the minute she revealed I had written the story. For a brief moment, I was the talk of the school. They said I’d be the next Stephen King, and I was on top of the world. She even kept the paper to read to her future classes.
To this day, it’s still one of the most unsettling stories I’ve written. I don’t want to give much away about it because I’d eventually like to rewrite it into something great.
I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I filled notebook after notebook. Printed hundreds and thousands of sheets of paper containing my words. I expanded my horror movies I watched, hunting desperately for something new at Movie Gallery. I worked in a haunted house as a scareactor. I bought books on writing. I studied it. I learned from people who understood the business better than I did. I kept at it and kept at it. I became involved with Ax Wound. I’ve reviewed horror movies, books, and now comics.
Monsters and slashers, blood and gore – those are all part of me. These are all parts of who I am, and what I do as a writer. Sure, everything I write isn’t a horror story. But sometimes they could use a good dash of horror or darkness.
It isn’t just a Halloween time mood-setter. Horror is a life long passion, and a comforting retreat from reality.
Thanks for taking this walk down memory lane with me, just for the love of horror.