Sunday, September 9, 2012


Me and the bloody stuff…
By Benjamin Kane Ethridge

It comes up often. Confronted with my writing genre, I feel the need to constantly explain the deviant, red, squishy, crazy, terrifying content of my books. Horror is a genre that people continue to lump in with slasher / torture movies, so just bringing up the genre name gets noses twitching and lips snarling into the “Ohhhh I don’t like those sorts of stories” formation. Now, I’ve ingested a steady diet of slasher movies in my day, and though the subgenre had run its course and then some, I have no problem still making a yummy sound. It is a rarity though to find me writing hack ‘em ups. Actually, I won a contest for the one and only slasher story I ever wrote, entitled “Gorgon,” in the now defunct Doorways magazine. Since then, I haven’t considered writing another. Not even once.

Anyhow, I’m not a slasher writer. I’m a writer who enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction, but has had more success with darker spins on those genres. So, writing horror was a survival thing for me. I haven’t had much luck yet with my straight fantasy or science fiction—because it’s a rigid market with many creators. Thus, I horror.

Okay, and what does that entail? Well, making a cocktail of course. My ideas ferment out of the fantastic or scientific scenarios I happen to be daydreaming about the most and then I add blood and stir. It doesn’t take much to get my imagination going. My latest novel BOTTLED ABYSS started with the vision of a bottle, the contents an absolute liquid darkness. That’s it. No characters. No plot. No story. I didn’t even know the River Styx, a major element of the finished product, would be involved. For me, I can’t know those things that early on, because it would defuse the bomb I’m prodding to explode.

Now, how does that set me apart from other writers in the genre? Without painting myself on a lofty mountaintop, I will instead suggest I stand on a different mountain, no better, and no worse. I know full well I haven’t read everybody out there, so I’m not going to be as foolish and brash as to proclaim myself unique, a literary wondergod possessing an insurmountable imagination. Going from the books I’ve read, I can only describe a tenuous truth. For who knows? There might be another novel dealing with the theme of death much the way BOTTLED ABYSS does. I just don’t know, because I haven’t read it.

Okay, enough sidestepping the question. I’m a different than some writers in that I don’t often retell common stories or expand on known genres or sub-genres. Even though writing a zombie or vampire novel would probably be wise from a marketing standpoint, my head doesn’t want to explore that well trodden terrain. Maybe it will someday, but for now, I enjoy telling uncommon horror stories outside popular subgenres. My first book BLACK & ORANGE is a novel about a cult with ties to our world and another dimension. Horror novels about cults certainly exist and are plentiful, but I’ve never read one like my book. With BOTTLED ABYSS, I’ve yet to read a similar mythological horror novel. I find it more exciting than writing a cowboy romance comedy zombie thriller. Would I enjoy reading a story like that though too? You bet. Devising one? Not so much.

I see many writers doing a fabulous job making familiar stories and genres into something fresh and new. That isn’t me though. I’d much rather focus on the unfamiliar. I’d like to create new genres, instead of living inside old ones.

Will I always do this?

As long as somebody is willing to publish it, would be my answer. Again, I want to stress that I don’t feel superior in my decision to approach my content this way. I’m not unique in that I want to tell entertaining stories. That’s what most of us writers want to do. This is just the way I’ve chosen to go about it, using the vehicles I enjoy and making sure to bloody up their grills and tires with enough carnage to satisfy my audience.

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