Part One: Define “cute.”
All my life people have said to me, “You don’t look like a horror fan (or writer).” As I got old enough to master the quip, I’d reply “What does a horror fan (or writer) look like?” The inevitable comeback is, “You’re too cute to like horror.”
At which point, I shed my human skin and reveal the portal to hell seething within my gullet.
Alas, not really. Being a functioning adult in today’s society, I smile politely and change the subject. My spare time is too short to try to open the mind of someone that focused on appearances.
Because you know what? Starting when I was five, my dad and I would watch the late(-ish; I was five after all) Friday night monster movie on local TV. He took a few for the team in those days. “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” comes to mind. What I don’t remember was how the bleeding painting in that particular movie scared me. He told me it was only a movie, and movies can’t hurt you. He then admitted to me years after that he got up several times that night to check on me in case I was having nightmares. I wasn’t: My dad told me movies can’t hurt me, and that was that. I made sure to pass this fact onto my kids at approximately the same age. When I call my folks on Sundays, he and I always have new horror movies to discuss.
Now, I HAVE to tell this story: When I was a nun, in habit (look up my photos on Facebook), he took me to see “Deadly Blessing.” My favorite kind of horror: The bad kind. Overacted and overwrought with cheesy FX. The ticket guy called Dad over and said the movie had female nudity. Perhaps, the Sister wouldn’t want to see it. Dad replied that the Sister saw female nudity every time she looked in the mirror.
That’s not the funny part.
We went to the early Friday night show. When we exited, the lobby was PACKED for the later show. The buzz of conversation stopped dead when we appeared. We laughed and continued past the lines to the door. The instant our backs were to the crowd, the conversation buzz resumed about three decibels higher. I wonder what they all thought.
Part Two: Beyond killing your darlings
Allow me to paraphrase the great Donald Maass: “Think of the worst thing that could happen to your character. Now, do it to them.”
Every writer has a learning curve. I rewrote my first book five times front to back. I sold three other books first. Then I read the above quote. I thought I’d destroyed my MC’s life. I opened the manuscript after reading the above paraphrase and destroyed the destruction, resurrected it, and destroyed it again. I sold the book.
The top item on my bucket list is seeing the Northern Lights in person. And I wrote “Butterflies Eating the Dead.”
If you ever meet me in person, I want you to wonder whether I’m really a hellmouth wearing a meatsuit. My work will be done.
I’ll even let you call me “cute.” Maybe.
Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Kate Morgan (Alice Loweecey) celebrates the anniversary of the day she Jumped the Wall with as much delight as her birthday. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she’s not inspiring nightmares (or creating trouble as herself for her sleuth Giulia Driscoll), she can be found growing and cooking her own fruits and vegetables.
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Featured Image (c) “Cute Gothic Horror Vampire Woman” by Martin Davey