I swear it.
Monday, June 20, 2016
I heard of an author of horror recently who was accosted at a bookstore signing by a person loudly proclaiming he doesn’t read horror, doesn’t like it, and blah blah blah tinklely poo shit blah.
I had that happen at a big book signing at a conference in a hotel and didn’t know most of the other author attendees were romance writers. There I sat with my first novel, WIREMAN, called horror on the cover, but in truth was a suspense novel. It happened to be graphic in spots and real-to-life about the serial murders so in 1984 it got labeled horror. Which was okay by me. I was legitimately published and had no choice what genre my work was put into anyway, why cry over it? It’s pretty horrific, I admit.
Two women came to my table, picked up the paperback and one said, “Oh, I don’t read this stuff.” The other remarked, “No, me either, that’s scary horror stuff.” They walked off and I think left me with my mouth hanging open. They weren’t the last to drop by to voice their dislike for the work I’d done. My girls were teens and hearing these people they were flabbergasted at the rudeness. The unthinking, uncaring way their mother was being treated. I was simply sad. And angry that I was being slotted and treated like an outcast.
No matter what kind of writers were present this was uncalled for. Today I have thoughts I’d like to share with readers of any genre or mainstream literature who might dismiss horror for one reason or another.
Have some respect. I would say this today: Have you no manners? Go back to your grandmother’s knee and learn some. Oh, there are no manners or class taught in your family? Then learn it yourself.
There is no excuse for speaking ill of work right in front of the author. You can think it, that’s fine, that’s called freedom, but if you speak it you prove you are ignorant of genre in general, horror in the specific, and literature on the whole. I would ask this of you. Have you read the classic FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley? That, dear, is horror and mystery and literature. Have you ever seen a car wreck or been in one? That’s horror. Have you lain on a hospital gurney knowing your young son is dead in a fire? That’s ultimate horror. Have you had cancer and beat it—at least for a while? That’s horror. Have you read EAST OF EDEN, STRANGER ON THE TRAIN, MOSQUITO COAST, THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, the BIBLE? There’s plenty of horror in those tomes and hundreds more, but the genre label isn’t on them.
I’m happy you enjoy romance and I understand you dislike the violence of my work, I don't give a happy damn about your reading preferences, but if ever again you say it to my face, I will tell you these things.
Have you lost someone you loved? Have you been betrayed by friends or family or spouse? Have you lost work and been in despair? Are you even faintly human?
Have you any reason whatsoever to dismiss a working author about her work whether it’s a comic book, a child’s picture book, a self-help book, a mystery, a comedy, or….a book of horror. In her face. That author who worked more than a year on her novel, who worried over it and gave it her best shot and believed she had something to say and a story to tell no one else could tell. You would speak in front of her children these things and not care. How hard-hearted a fool are you and from what pig clan wallow did you arise from?
Don’t speak to me about freedom of speech and people can say anything and it’s all right. It is NOT all right. It is RUDE. It is UNCARING. It shows you as a common person without good manners and good intelligence, otherwise you would not do it.
I could teach you things you need to know with my horror. I could break your heart and make you weep. I could touch you deep where your heart resides. I could show you evil so you recognize it when it comes upon you. I could give you hope not all men or women are bad or criminal, and in fact, most of them are good and kind and upright. I could show you justice and humanity. But you will miss out on these lessons from inside the stories because…you “don’t like or read THAT stuff.”
The least you can do is be ashamed of yourself for judging what you do not know. I know nothing of romance fiction, though I've read a bit of it, so I would never in a million years speak before an author of romance to say I don’t read THAT stuff. I wouldn’t do that to a friend, and all writers are my friends, and I certainly wouldn’t do that to a stranger. An author. Of a horror or any other kind of book.
From now on try to curb your ugly, judgmental tongue. Or I will label YOU and it shall be called RUDE and UNCARING. The label will also read in small letters--IGNORANT OF GENRE AND LITERATURE IN GENERAL.
I will. I swear I will.
I swear it.