by Chris Ambrose
One of the bonuses
of the FLASHSHOT experience has been the community it gives writers. It's
fun to see how your peers will surprise you on a daily basis. One of the
most frequent contributors to FLASHSHOT is Chris Ambrose. In a letter to
me he did a fine job of expressing how genre writers feel about the art
today. I think his comments are valuable, if nothing else, as a kind of
manifesto of the spirit of FLASHSHOT. These are Chris' words but
they speak for many of us.
-- G. W. Thomas
As I see it, beyond the fact that they've been done so many times, the weakness of the vampire - zombie - werewolf - witch -ghost thing is that they have become largely irrelevant in modern society. These monsters came from a time of more widespread belief in the spiritual world and a better understanding of the Judeo-Christian mythos. They were the distorted black reflection of the religious beliefs of the times. Lovecraft was the master in tapping this vein. Since I'm still rather spiritual, they still work for me. As far as I'm concerned, the Book of Revelations is the most horrific work ever produced.
The Bible, along with Greco-Roman mythology, Norse and Celtic mythology, along with a little Hindu, will give you more than enough monsters and demons. Add to that the European folklore (Grimm), American Indian myths, and our own North American bloodlust and carnage, and there's a mountain of horrific matter to mine. My wife is amazed at the number of ideas and range that I explore. On the other hand, I feel so inadequate. I was listening to a tape on Milton and other Renaissance authors this week, and I realized how limited my education is (but I'm an engineer, so I have an excuse).
What we are seeing today is, in my opinion, too much of the over the top, in your face, splatter horror. Sure this works, to a point, but you end up in the Hollywood blockbuster syndrome -- always trying to exceed the last hit. I have to wonder how far this can go?
On the other hand, I prefer the Hitchcock approach. Let the audience hear the monster, smell the monster, and sense its presence, but never quite get a clear view of it. Then the reader / audience can let their own fears do the heavy lifting. I don't know what scares you the most, but you do. My job then is to set the table so that you can feast on your own insecurities.
The modern reader is afraid of birth defects, senility, terrorists, threats to their children, serial killers, abject loneliness, and the corporate monsters who seem to be taking over our political systems, while destroying the planet and everyone who gets in their way. These are the terrors we need to explore and expose.
Anyway, that's where I'm coming from. It's a lot more that can be explored in 100 words, but it's all there, in the background, waiting... "