Monday, December 15, 2014

Writing Horror Part 1: Introduction and Some Personal History

I love it here at Terrorphoria.

As someone who was bound by the early censorship of a Christian household, Stephen King novels were my first escape.  Reading, being that I could do it privately rather than shared spaces, was harder for my strict parents to regulate.  Reading King quickly led to reading Ketchum, Straub, and Saul.

When I aged into more freedom, that led to gorging on films as well.  When the local video store wouldn't give me a card, I took my mom's out of her wallet.  I'd rent entire series on VHS and marathon through them, watching a franchise like Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween devolve from their first beautiful, creative genesis to cash-grabbery sequeldom. It was awesome.

[Read on to discover more about how Jeff got into writing about horror, and what that means for him posting original works on Terrorphoria!]

Along the way I decided that I wanted to participate in crafting these sorts of terrifying tales, both the high-brow, lofty kind and the tongue-in-cheek romps.  I quit high school sports and theater, focusing instead on writing a series of short stories (they were terrible) and my first novel (it was even worse).

I started an online horror magazine and called it The Daily Tourniquet.  I paid Matt Wallace $50 to write a story for launch day (being that we were living off of Ramen at the time, I totally paid him by returning pop cans).  I'm biased, but it continues to be my favorite thing he's written.

Then came adulthood and life and college and marriage and kids and mostly college, actually.  See, I became an English major and my entire life became about reading Shakespeare and Chaucer and my writing became about trying to be the next James Joyce, Jonathon Franzen, or David Foster Wallace.  Everything had to be lofty and pretentious.  I forgot my love of horror.

Worse, running a literary magazine is hard.  By the time I was taking 18th Century British Literature, keeping The Daily Tourniquet going was hard work that, as the result of hackers and plagiarists, became extremely tough labor and by my third semester I pulled the plug on DT because I had grown to resent it.

I had another kid, graduated, and failed to get into any of the pretentious lit MFA programs. They could probably tell I was faking class like a boyfriend meeting the parents.  I was lost, writing here and there on the internet, but mostly getting more and more depressed.  I couldn't find a job.  I couldn't find joy in my writing.  My substance and food abuse issues, once punchlines for my stand up, became actual problems.

Wooh, heavy stuff.  Sorry.  I promise, I'll get back to making dumb jokes about Freddy going glove shopping or something soon.

When Ben and I were both employed at a now defunct video game site, writing unappreciated reviews and fighting mobs of internet commentators, I noticed by stalking his Reddit username that he started a horror blog (that's this site if that's not obvious).  I started reading it but never mentioned it to him.  I thought it was supposed to be a secret, since he didn't advertise that he was doing it internally.

Then our site died.  We were all free agents.  I mostly used the sudden free time to start putting myself back together mentally.  I lost weight, started reading and watching stuff I enjoyed again (as apposed to stuff I was supposed to read and watch).  Then, in May, Ben asked if I'd also like to write for the site.

I had just happened to watch Godzilla and figured that was as good as post as any, but it wasn't until I started writing the You're Next piece that I started to really remember why I loved horror and how I had work left to do.

Still reading?  Awesome, here's why it all matters:

Ben and I have had lots of conversations about the kind of work/writing/art we both want to do and it's important to both of us to not just hang our hats on talking about other people's stuff, but create some art of our own.

I'm not sure how that is going to look for him, but for me that means getting back to my original mission.  I'm still going to be writing critical pieces here, and I hope you continue to read and enjoy them, but I've also started writing a horror novel.

If that's the sort of thing that interests you, these Writing Horror pieces will highlight my journey of writing and publishing a horror novel.  They won't all be this self indulgent, trust me, although there might be more Matt Wallace references because that dude is f###ing awesome.

In the end, it was the Terrorphoria audience that rekindled my horror love and set me on this journey, so it feels weird to not share the voyage with you.  When it's all said and done, I'll make sure that all of you can get the finished product for the small, prove-who-you-are cost of joining the Terrorphoria mailing list  (which you should have already done here).

Alright.  Let's write a novel together.


  1. I look forward to reading your progress! How far along are you, or do we have to wait for the next installment to find out?

  2. I'm 1/5 through with it. I'm chronicling the experience simultaneously, but the publication of these pieces will (hopefully if I keep my act together) run behind my actual progress.

  3. Thanks! We're hoping to feature original works by authors, and lead the charge by chronicling Jeff's writing. (Because we're totally shameless!)