The old adage is true to some extent: writers write the books that they want to read. In my case I can say that this is true, though that’s where it gets a bit more complicated for me. I read widely; everything from poetry and literary fiction to speculative fiction, horror and experimental novels. This is reflected in my writing as a multi-genre author.
Horror is my favourite genre as a reader. It has always been an endless source of fascination, ever since I started binge-reading R.L. Stine, Stephen King and Dean Koontz from my pre-teen years onwards. I particularly love when there is an element of ambiguity in a horror plot. Have you seen the film, the Babadook? Not only is it scary, but there’s room for interpretation: is it all in her head? Due to mental illness? Or is the sinister entity a real supernatural fiend.
Ambiguity isn’t for everyone. Some horror fans want the supernatural element to be clear cut. I don’t. I enjoy multilayer plots that make you want to revisit the story to see if you missed anything. As a writer, this is also how I choose to present my own plots, though I tend to go for a 80/20 ratio; my horror stories present as supernatural with a bit of wiggle room, so that if the reader wants to make a different informed choice about what the book is saying, they can. I’m not going to insult my readers’ intelligence: if you read one of my books, you aren’t going to be spoon-fed, so don’t expect it.
Another reason I enjoy writing horror (The Blue Man) and psychological (The Buddha’s Bone) fiction is that I find these genres work best to show my ultimate goal in storytelling: writing that confronts the nature of self. All of my main characters undergo a dark psychological journey, have a crisis of identity, and create a new sense of self by the end. Whether that’s a dark sense of self, or a light one, comes down to the individual story.
Speaking of horror, I’m currently implementing feedback from my editor and proofreader on Book 2 of my Belfast Ghosts series. I’ll be writing another update on this novel soon. It isn’t a direct sequel of The Blue Man. In fact, they’re only related by theme; both are ghost horror and both are set in Belfast, Northern Ireland. That’s where the similarities end. More on Book 2 soon!