Horror and Heineken

By September 21, 2014

IMG_1869As the Horror and Heineken Fest weekend draws to a close, I’m slowly but surely getting back into my routine. Sunday morning walk is all done and now I’m sitting here in my office eating cold pizza and drinking diet Coke as I begin my writing day.

The weather has finally cleared and there is so much light streaming in through the windows. Feels good. It’s a little cooler out, but still doesn’t seem like fall. Fine by me. I’m never quite ready to relinquish my summer.

Last week I finished reading a very interesting book that was recommended to me by one of my Facebook friends. I found the dystopian story so original and riveting for the most part and kept thinking what a great movie it would make. But the ending left me unsatisfied. It was as if the writer simply ran out of time or steam or both.

I’m not unsympathetic. Been there, done that. However, I was reminded again of how utterly crucial the ending of a story is. That’s not to say everything has to be wrapped up all nice and tidy, especially in a series where the author is often laying groundwork for the next installment. But there must be a big payoff for the reader.

So with that in mind, I’m doing a little more work on The Visitor this week before the line edits begin. This is actually my favorite part of the writing process—that one last crack at getting everything right before I have to (reluctantly) let go of the story.

Yesterday I started Witch by Barbara Michaels. Not hard to figure out why I chose that particular book instead of one of the gazillion titles I already had on my Kindle. Lately, my Ozark witch story has been calling to me.  This will not be a Bewitched or Wiccan type story.  I want to write about witches that do bad things. Witches that maybe sold their soul to the devil. In my story, witchcraft is still dark and dangerous and only spoken of in whispers.

My friend, Alaina and I had a long conversation about this during our Horror and Heineken weekend. As much as I love urban fantasy—and goodness knows, I was hooked on True Blood—that’s not at all what I write.

I’ve never been able to put a label on my Graveyard Queen books, but Alaina says I write horror. Horror in the classic sense because all good horror, she reminds me, is rooted in tragedy. Think of Lon Chaney’s poignant portrayal of the Wolf Man. The loneliness and sadness and isolation of his everyman character set against his budding relationship with the beautiful Gwen is the very epitome of doomed love.

In that sense, Amelia is a bit of a throwback, I think. Rather than embracing her gift, she struggles to overcome it and the outcome remains in doubt.

It’s the ‘otherness’ of these characters and creatures that enthralls me.  For my purpose, bringing them into the normal world would dilute their essence and so I prefer to keep them rooted firmly in the paranormal.


Screening this past weekend at Horror and Heineken Fest:

The Conjuring ♠♠♠

Sinister  (unrated because I fell asleep, but I think it was a good one)

The Purge ♠♠

The Invoking -♠


Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Claudiawench says:

    I’ve read a heck of a lot of books in the last 10 years and have found it such a let down when a story is so thrilling and interesting, but falls apart at the end. It does feel like the author ran out of time, that it was rushed, perhaps their deadline crept up on them too fast. I always wish they could have had a few more weeks or a month to really nail it down. I don’t blame the authors for that though.

    • Amanda says:

      There is nothing I hate more than turning in a book with an ending that needs more work. Sometimes all you need is a few days away from the story for everything to kind of click into place. That’s why I like a second crack at it. 🙂

  • Nancy Heard says:

    i wholeheartedly agree with you that horror is based in tragedy! i’ve never seen the wolfman (would like to now) but i think of the phantom of the opera…his pain and loneliness is what fuels his villainy. and i’m finding it’s true as i attempt to write my short stories too. (“attempt” being the operative word!)
    i’m interested in the movie “annabelle” now that i’ve seen the conjuring. i think it remains to be seen if the movie will tell the true story behind that doll that is mentioned in “the conjuring” or if they will be fictionalizing it. i’m very curious!

    • Amanda says:

      Oh, I’ll have to check out the movie! I remember writing a blog post about Annabelle when The Dollmaker first came out. lol

      Oh, short stories! I love them! I don’t have a lot of experience writing in a shorter format, but that’s definitely something I want to try this coming year.

  • venus velvet says:

    I remember Witch. I’ve never read anyone like Barbara Michaels for contrasting cozy kitchen scenes one moment with encounters with the undead the next. Her spirits were usually drawn by some long ago tragedy, also. They’re like discomfort reads, my favorites by her: Ammie Come Home, The Dark on the Other Side, Wait for What Will Come, the one with Meg and Andy (can’t remember title.)

    • Amanda says:

      I enjoyed Witch quite a lot. For some reason, it has made me want to dig out my old Mary Stewart books and read them again. 🙂

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