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BellaOnline's Horror Literature Editor

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Horror and I

Guest Author - Chris Willis

I have written a number of articles now so think it is time to give you a background on me, where I come from, and how important horror literature has been in my life.

Some of you may know that I wrote my first short story when I was eight years of age. It was for a competition in a local newspaper and had to include the line Ďand all that could be heard was the sound of gently lapping waterí. One could use any genre. I chose horror. I canít remember if I submitted it or not, but I enjoyed writing it. It was about a man who knew he was a werewolf and had a conscience. The story ended with him jumping off a cliff. The line I had to include was the last line. In hindsight, it was a noble storyline for an eight year old.

I remember little of my childhood. I find recollection very difficult before the age of sixteen, but I do have snippets. One of them is reading James Herbertís ĎRatsí trilogy when my peers were reading books more suited towards children of that age. I was around nine or ten at the time and had difficulty with my vocabulary!

Horror has always fascinated me. The first time I read Frankenstein, I didnít understand it. It was science fiction. I couldnít figure out why it was classified as horror. I underestimated Victor Frankensteinís role after the creation of the monster, and the monsterís yearning for belonging. Today, it is one of my favourite novels.

When I was in secondary school (ages approximately 12-18), we didnít study the horror genre. I flunked English Literature because it didnít appeal to me. We had to learn the Ďclassicsí. I wanted to study Dracula, Lovecraft or contemporary horror writers such as Stephen King, Guy N Smith, and James Herbert. Instead, we studied Pygmalion, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Kes, and Huckleberry Finn. I still see no point in teachers regurgitating well-used opinions for their students to regurgitate. As a writer, I realise the value of literature is not in its literary components but in the value of entertainment. I donít read because a book is uses eloquent language. I read to be entertained.

It was compulsory to study English Language and English Literature. I remember my teacher pulling me aside and telling me I was doing badly and would never get a job if I didnít pass. I explained that if we studied Frankenstein or Dracula, I would be more interested. She explained the importance of literature, and I canít recall the word entertainment ever being used. I am still of the opinion that I wonít read a book if it doesnít entertain me.

These problems existed for years so my interest in writing fiction plummeted. I never regained my eight year old enthusiasm to write. When I finished school, I found a job and worked for years without ever writing a story. When I was around nineteen years of age, my life made a dramatic turn.

I found myself unemployed and in a dilapidated council apartment in England. I had a car that was constantly vandalised. It was a bad area to live and I was in constant fear of being subject to violence. I used my bout of unemployment to go back to college and earn some qualifications.

During this extended time of unemployment, I had nothing to do. I looked for a job frequently and spent a lot of time attending interviews, going through papers, and all the normal duties a job seeker goes through to obtain employment, but there were those unavoidable down times. For those of you who donít know, if you own a television in England, you must have a television licence to watch it. . If not, you broke the law. I never broke the law.

Instead, I read more. Over the first few months, I found the entertainment value in a novel and sought out my Ďclassicsí Ė Frankenstein, Rats, Dracula, and other novels which captivated me as a child. I also took a course in psychology to understand people. I even wrote a 100,000 thesis on sleep psychology. I found my inspiration for horror. One day, a friend brought round a spare computer for me to use. He loaded up some games and a word processor, and left me to it.

I used that time to teach myself how computers work. Then I took another course and achieved high grades. I started to write short stories again, my first called ĎScorpionsí. Around a year had passed since my last job. I had a handful of temporary assignments in between, but nothing substantial. After reading scores of novels and writing various short stories, I decided to write my own novel. It took nine days and was 120,000 words long.

I had the taste for horror. I wrote more, and then I found a full-time job and finished my second novel. Success! I put a lot of energy into my new job but my writing started to fail until it fell into the black hole of oblivion. The computer hard drive crashed and I lost both novels and all my short stories.

A few years later, I started to write another novel. It took years to do a few chapters. I found a job and went on-line for the first time and met a girl called Lisa. A year later, I moved to Australia to be with her and we married soon after. I got a job easily but it meant I had to travel two hours a day with nothing to do. After six months, I started to write again and picked up the novel I had started to write in England.

You may get the feeling from my posts that I am a Graham Masterton fan. Youíre right. I donít mimic or copy his style, but his entertainment prowess has inspired me as a writer more than any other storyteller. I recently contacted Mr Masterton to tell him that. It made my day when he wrote back, although I doubt he will ever understand how much he has influenced me. My vision is to become a famous horror writer such as the likes of Masterton, King, and Campbell. I then intend to visit Mr Masterton, share a beer, and tell him face to face just how much his work inspired me. Iíll let you know how it goes. So, if you think I driven in my articles about Graham Masterton, I apologise but as you can now see, thereís a solid reason behind it.

Since I made the transition into writing seriously, I have taken a course in novel writing, am the new horror literature editor for BellaOnline, and a member of the Australian Horror Writers Association. I have written scores more short stories (most of them are not horror!) but have had ten new horror stories accepted over the last few months in magazines, e-zines and anthologies. I have 12 novels in first draft with 3 in the pipeline. I have a beautiful family and want to write full time. On the down size, I suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. It is a disability and affects the quality of my life, but when has a disability ever got in the way of greatness?
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Content copyright © 2014 by Chris Willis. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Chris Willis. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Justin D. Davis for details.

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