If you remember back in 2012, Pip and I were engaging in an experiment. We never really mentioned what that experiment was all about, and that was on purpose. We wanted to step deeper into the waters of self-publishing and write outside our genres, see how works way out of our known expertise would perform in the wild frontier of digital do-it-yourself storytelling. I created for myself the pen name of “Jonathan Carter” and set out to write stories that—I hoped—would keep people up a night, make readers afraid of the dark, and check the house to make sure they were truly safe.
I’ve never been one for pen names but after two years and little-to-no activity, I went on and said to Pip “I think we’re done with the experiment. How about we go ahead and just kill Jonathan Carter, and I claim those short stories.”
So, I sat down with Photoshop, edited the eCovers, and re-released them into the wild. Within the first twelve hours of being live, one sold.
I’m thinking the loss of the pen name was a good idea.
How would I categorize my horror? I don’t think of myself as a horror writer heavy on the “squick” factor (if you are curious of what the “squick” factor is, think of the works from Clive Barker or film like the Saw series, or Hostel); but I would say the element of a setting or a situation slowly unraveling, and watching what the players do to try and solve or salvage it but wind up making the bad even worse, makes for good horror. It’s a feeling of helplessness, that wild tailspin of trying to make a situation right while knowing there is nothing that can be done, that I believe horror derives from.
While I have just opened up my own private shop here, you can find my works of horror on Amazon:
“Daddy’s Little Girl”: The zombie apocalypse is underway, and Reggie is facing his worst nightmare. The question is, as the metal and wood of the shotgun warms under his grasp, whether or not his love is strong enough? (This was my story appearing in the 2012 anthology, Gimmie Shelter and I’m offering the short story for free.)
“Final Cut”: Something terrible is in Anna’s mind. Something alien that uses desire as a whip. As she is sent back in time to Victorian London she wonders is it trying to drive her mad or if something even more nefarious is going on? (This was my Erotica ala Carte story from 2010.)
“Sweet Embrace”: Some things don’t stay buried. Some people you can’t shake. Gary has both of those problems, but perhaps he is beginning to think they aren’t problems at all. What happens when you love someone so much, you just can’t let go?
“Contaminated Data”: On January 19, 2006, NASA launched the New Horizons probe, bound for the farthest edges of our solar system. On July 14, 2015, the probe performs a flawless flyby of Pluto, in the hopes of revealing new details of the elusive dwarf planet. Be careful what you wish for. (This is a novella which is why the price is at $1.99.)
Horror, for me, is still undiscovered country for me; and like comedy, is the hardest genre for me to write. Fear, like humor, is subjective. What terrifies one person does not terrify everyone else, and finding that wide-spread terror is a challenge.
Do I like writing horror?
I enjoy the reaction people have to it. I remember J.R. Blackwell describing “Daddy’s Little Girl” (then called “Is Your Love Strong Enough?”) as “emotional” and a review for “Sweet Embrace” describes it as “Hazy atmosphere at the start, slowly the scene is brought to light. Momentary clarity, then the haze returns. Good stuff.” This is very different from reviews of my other works, and I enjoy exploring the darker side of my imagination. Sure, it creeps into my Ministry short stories and (if Pip allows) novels; but when I set out to write horror, it’s a very different frame of mind.
Now, it’s out in the open. No more pen name to hide behind. Welcome to that part of my headspace that tends to be a touch more twisted than the rest. Let me know what you think with your reviews and opinions on Amazon.com, and thanks for giving my work a go.