Writing horror almost killed me. But it saved my life too.
It has saved my life more than once.
I’ll start with the almost-killing. Me, eleven years old and fresh from reading my first Stephen King (Pet Sematary, and even the thought of that book still brings a grin to my face). I suddenly knew what I wanted to do with my life, I wanted to be a horror writer. I wanted to tell scary stories and get paid to do it. In my eyes I was already a professional, I had five years experience under my belt after writing my first gothic masterpiece, The Little Monster Book, at six years old. I was ready to shift things up a gear, though. I wanted to write something that would terrify people.
Back then, I had a huge advantage. I believed in horror. In fact, that’s how I thought writing worked: authors didn’t just sit down and imagine things, they went out into the world and found real ghosts, and real monsters, then used those experiences as nightmare fuel. I couldn’t quite comprehend how something as good as Pet Sematary could exist without some kernel of truth at its heart, some secret, real-life horror. I was convinced that there was a conspiracy of horror authors who had witnessed the supernatural, a cabal of paranormal detectives who shared their experiences as fiction. And I wanted in. At eleven years old I didn’t just suspect that the supernatural existed, I knew that it did. I had a desperate, unshakable faith in it. That was my modus operandi, then, to find real horror and then use that experience to create a truly unforgettable story.