In honor of Coffin Hop 2012, I’m hosting a guest post from Horror Author and Pen of the Damned member Thomas James Brown, who has graciously offered to give away a free signed copy of the anthology Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity containing his short story, It Lives In Us, to one lucky winner! Details are at the bottom ;}
Why I Write by Thomas James Brown
It is arguably the most asked question of writers, and the most difficult to answer. Why do we write? What drives us to eschew the company of others, to be alone with our thoughts for hours on end? The answers are always intensely personal. In an earlier blog post, Living, Writing, I attributed it to love:
This, above all others, seems the only real justification, and only then because there is no reason where love is concerned. It is irrational and spontaneous, obsessive and compulsive, good and bad, but not rational. We are happy fools, as everyone who has ever truly loved anything can corroborate. It doesn’t matter what we choose to write, only that we do.
Certainly this is true; none of us could maintain the dedication demanded by the craft if we did not love it. I feel this answer is perhaps a little romantic, however. If I love to write, then it is also true I need to write. It is my way of philosophising, of compromising with the world. Renowned literary critic, S. T. Joshi, writes of weird writers in his text, The Weird Tale:
[…] weird writers utilize all the schemas I have outlined (or various permutations of them) precisely in accordance with their philosophical predispositions. […] All the authors I study here (with the exception of James) evolved distinctive world views, and it was those world views that led them to write the sort of literature they did. I am convinced that we can understand these writers’ work – the whole of their work, not merely their purportedly “weird” writing – only by examining their metaphysical, ethical, and aesthetic theories, and then by seeing how their fiction reflects or expresses those theories.
Do not think for a moment that I am comparing myself or my writing to the likes of the Masters Joshi examines in the text, only that Joshi’s observations convey how I feel when writing. I once thought that I was a horror writer, then an author of speculative fiction. By definition, these titles still hold true, but it is weird fiction that most accurately describes my writing: surreal, existential pieces that are shaped by my philosophies, emphasising atmosphere and emotion over plot and realism. Horror comes now from the existential nature of the themes I explore, as opposed to horror for horror’s sake, and even then it is often tainted, with beauty, love, pity and the countless other facets that make us human.
The book I would like to give away in honour of Coffin Hop 2012 is a signed copy of Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity. The story of mine contained within is one of my favourites, It Lives In Us.
A black frost spread across Lynnwood, icing the tarmac with a lustrous sheen. Street lights were visible; pools of orange in the ice, but they were few and shone dully into the night. The village was dark and still, but it would not remain still for long. Something stirred inside the residents of Lynnwood, something hungry, and on this night it would not be quietened.
The village was an old one, dating back to the fourteenth century, when settlers flocked to the New Forest from Britain’s towns. The Black Death alone claimed thousands of souls. Starvation and society damned more. And so people died. Those who did not die fled the cities, their tails between their legs, as rank and lean as the very rats that had sickened them.
A number of settlements sprang into being within the Forest, their inhabitants drawn by its bounty, if not the imagined safety of its trees. The soil was poor, as forest soil so often is, but a living could be scratched from the wildlife. Pigeon was abundant; but then the forest settlers ate for nourishment, not taste. There is little people will not do, nor eat, when it means the difference between life and death. The Forest did not disappoint them with its offerings. These settlers proved most resourceful when it came to finding food. Even in the winter months, when darkness dragged and bodies froze, there was meat to be found, if they would only eat it. Lynnwood grew from a legacy of hunger.
But it was not the haven they had envisaged. Such a place could not have existed, did not exist. How could it, except between the pages of the Good Book – or any book, for that matter? No; the winters were long, the nights dark and, whilst there was some shelter from the plague beneath the boughs of the trees, there was no outrunning sin. This was Lynnwood’s real legacy.
In those respects, little had changed. For three hundred and sixty four days of the year, Lynnwood was a pleasant enough place in which to live. Hemmed in by the ancient oaks, there was a very real sense of community, as tangible as the roots that wound their way beneath the moist forest mulch. The trees were not restricted to oaks, but beech too, and yew and holly; any naturalist’s dream. Together they kept the village their own, tucked away behind branch and thistle and trunk. There was but a single bus that went as far as Lyndhurst, which left and returned once each day, and one long, vermicular road. Those were the only ways in and out of the village. Traffic was unheard of. In the hottest months, the dead of summer, the locals would spill out from the pub into the middle of the high street, to drink and talk and celebrate the sun with local ales. Nobody worried about collisions or disruption. There was no need. It was simply the way of things.
WIN A FREE COPY!
All you need to do to win is leave a comment bellow, you can even just say “Hi Thomas!”