Like any writer, I have bouts of creativity, streams of consciousness and writers block. This is the same for any artist. However, as a horror writer, I have one pool of resource which is like striking oil…
Many things have inspired my work. The last book, Tapeworm Slim was because of repeated time in hospital and also facing mortality and the claustrophobia of operating theatres. The sequel, Tapeworm Slim 2, is more political and comes from a position of feeling enfeebled in a world which is dominated by idiots, politicians and the wealthy.
However, I suffer from a condition which tends to influence my writing on a daily basis. Chronic nightmares.
Recently I have been chased, isolated, abandoned, operated on, threatened, mocked, laughed, felt a presence growing in my head and also been aware that someone is in the room when I am lucid dreaming. I have figures of distortion, bodies of contortion and even raucous malformation of shapes and senses. I have woken up five times alone this month in a cold sweat thanking the lord I am not dead as I was about to be in my sleep.
Some of this has come from the life changing surgery I had on my heart just four weeks ago. Lots of it is anxiety about the future, my sense of depersonalisation and the defects my self esteem and social anxiety has on me. Yet some of it is just fantastic junk! Detritus left over from horror films, computer games and even a late night brain testing viewing of active shutter 3D spectacle of San Andreas when my eyes were hurting from the screen and my head was calmed via too much codeine and a splash of Guinness.
The great thing about all this is that it bleeds into my work. Now I wish I could write a book a week because some dreams are so vivid they tell a story right there and then! I want to get up and just type the horror film my mind has been moulding round my skull!….. But this is impractical. Its just not possible and each novel takes me about 18 months to complete! Therefore, to avoid fifteen hundred manuscripts only three pages deep, the dreams either get stored in the “next project” file or they get added into the current story which is great because, although each book is mapped out in my head there are times when it is exciting to find that missing piece, change a direction to keep it fresh orr add something that is very scary for both myself and the reader.
Sometimes, its just the effect which influences the work. That feeling of being so scared and vulnerable that it needs to be bled out onto a page.
Tapeworm Slim 2 is not a conventional horror story. Its political, spread across the country and… I cant say anymore without giving away my ideas! However, part 3 is set to become something else but I need a break from the world of grotesque slimming devices and the next story needs to be challenging and something different. Part of me wants to do a claustrophobic horror film…. Small place, diminishing light and a very reduced scale where there is just something wrong, something dangerous and something which could cause harm.
Then part of me wants to write about the sea, space, natural disasters….
I’ve no idea where the future is taking me but I am excited.
So why are nightmares such a rush?
When I was a child (aged 14 up) I watched scary and gory films to give myself nightmares because it was controlled fear at a time where my life was so miserable it was nice to watch perfect teenagers get slaughtered by Jason, be terrified by Freddy and simply gasp at the gore of Hellraiser! There were no Human Centipedes, Saw or Hostel in those days so the banned films I watched are very tame now in comparison. Yet I loved to be scared. I loved the bad dreams. I loved feeling in danger whilst going to the loo at midnight whilst halfway through Halloween. There is no feeling like pure terror yet knowing that you are being silly and its just a film. Over time I pushed myself more and more and the effect wore thin.
Since my heart crash in 2012 and my double figure ambulance rides and double figure admissions in the past four years, life has become scary for real so film is an escape but my perceptions, tolerances and yearning has also changed. I still love a so bad its good movie, but I want more than just gore and some things which never bothered me now really upset me which is weird.
Yet as a writer, I make sense of the world through etching my perception onto paper. So nightmares are my brain just having a gravity and solar flare surge of remembrance, junk and sorting…
…But the feelings are real and this rich pool of cognition and sensation simply builds in its own reservoir!
Plus there is still the anger of all the injustice in the world!
So where does this leave me? Well, its bed time and once again time for a mind of anxiety, fear and writers frustration to just blend a mad, mad world inside its neurological wonder! If I wrote comedy, drama, thriller or romance my dreams would be of no help. Yet, as a horror writer, they are my most valuable resource! My oil when I am dry and something my mind drills for when I really don’t want it too.
If you want a nightmare yourself, get a copy of my book Tapeworm Slim on Amazon or from the menu link at the top. It is indeed the stuff of nightmares. Be a nice prep for part 2 which is due in 2017.
Tapeworm Slim is on sale now!