When I came to write my second book I was completely bereft of ideas. I was struggling and couldn’t settle on a topic. The people around me urged me to do a book aimed at children and, although that is one day a target, I wanted to stay in the world of horror.
I’ve grown up with horror. It was my best friend at the weekend when I had none and I was alone with my mother and sister out on the town. I consider myself a massive lover of the genre and have hundreds and hundreds of films. Horror is my life and, therefore, it is natural I am going to want to stay with what I enjoy.
But there are many questions when one writes a new book. The first is “What the hell am I going to invest nearly two years of my life in?” and then, once you have an idea, “Is anyone going to want to read it?”.
So much has been covered in literature. So much has been done to death. So many clichés and genres are now saturated to the point of extreme levels of ‘meh’ in the audience. I decided I wanted something kind of obvious and everywhere but yet to be tapped into. I won’t go into the idea process too much as I chronicle that in the Preface of the book, but I do want to explain why I have chosen a topic which will probably turn more readers off than it will entice them.
Dieting is everywhere. The thin ideal is permeating so many parts of young people’s culture and a whole new generation of people are discovering themselves through the world of social media. The world around us is built on convenience and, as we are never more focused than we are now on constructing and projecting images of ourselves for the world to see on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram to name but a few, our levels of privacy and somatic narcissism are changing all around us.
I grew up in a female dominated household, and spent a long period of my youth around men having a midlife crisis. Diets, gyms and image were everywhere but, as a geeky and awkward eleven year old, I had no real concept of why everyone was so bothered by how they looked. As time went on, and I grew up, I too became very aware of my body and grew to hate it as much as many teenagers do these days.
I didn’t develop any eating disorders, mine was more about getting muscle and putting weight on my scrawny frame, but I was just as bothered about how I looked as my sister, mum and friends were.
Many diets came and went in our house, and I was upstairs lifting homemade weights every night. Then, as time went on and social media came into my life, I became even more preoccupied with my profile pictures. Social media is as much about performance and audience as it is keeping in contact with people. So, therefore, I have spent the last eight odd years constructing this online persona which causes as much despair as it creates joy.
When thinking of book two, having already written a very basic story about a man dying in a terrorist interrogation camp, I wanted a proper, in depth and convoluted story that would keep me interested. It was no surprise then that, as well as working in psychology and dealing with low self esteems and mental health problems from people struggling with their own identities, that I decided to create a story which would tap into our desire to be thin, perfect, attractive or even just an improvement over what we didn’t like in the mirror.
Yes, the concept is gross. Yes, parts of the book are explicit. Yet when writing horror I don’t want to be another zombie story, another rape revenge, another haunted house and so forth. I wanted something relatable, important in life and constructed around an idea that is as terrifying as it is sickening but also believable.
After all, even the Kardashian’s pondered getting themselves a Tapeworm to lose weight in a story that appeared on the internet. Oddly enough, even though I read that after the book was finished, it made me feel sad that young girls may feel compelled to even consider the advice of these very affluent and attractive model/television narcissists. It actually furthered my belief that we are not far from Doctor Sahara Scarseed’s vision of a chemist/supermarket accessible Tapeworm pill.
Sadly, there have been darker and more real life stories going around than that of the attention seeking words of reality TV stars. A mother who fed her child tapeworms to win a beauty contest is as sickening as it is sad. I would also like to point out, this was not the inspiration for the story. I wanted mine to focus more on the medical side and megalomaniacal area of a twisted doctor and greedy capitalist corporation.
I received some criticism when my idea was unveiled, some people thought I was mocking that awful scenario. I was not, had no idea it had even happened and, although I am pleased my idea is affecting and challenging people, I would not take a real life case so directly.
My story is about asking the question, what if someone developed an over the counter tapeworm drug which was as easy to buy as Paracetamol? What would the world think and just who would invest it in. That is the idea.
Oh, and the effects of what could go wrong once that goes under trial! This is a horror story after all!
So, on 4th March 2016, Tapeworm Slim will be released on Amazon and Kindle.
It’s very much a people story. From the disturbed progenitor of the idea to the poor souls who are in the trial to even the backers of the new product.
Remember this is fiction though! It’s not as if a real Tapeworm Slim pill would ever take off…
Or could it?