So, I’ve been away for a few weeks. Between end of semester duties, the flu, a sinus infection, and my partner being sick, I’ve felt too drained to do much of anything. I wasn’t blocked. I had plenty to say, and I’m making good progress on my current WIP, Stone Cold. And writing that book has inspired this post.
I’ve never shied away from dark subject matter in my writing. Liam’s Doom tackled suicidal ideation. Carmilla’s Ghost tackled abuse, rape, and PTSD. And while many of those issues intersect with my life, I found myself able to keep an intellectual distance from them, which made writing about them easy. Dark content has never bothered me.
Well, as I draft Stone Cold, I’m noticing that the dark themes I’m dealing with are hitting me hard. And, perhaps ironically, I am doing my best to use the “Fade to Black” method of describing the setup, breaking paragraph, and describing the aftermath so the gory and gruesome nature isn’t described. I’ve never shied away from gore in media, but for some reason it feels wrong to describe these actions. Sure, I could claim the artistic decision to imitate Hitchcock films and have much of the violence happen “off-page,” but I’m not sure if it’s an artistic decision in that manner. Do I believe my audience can imagine the details? Yes. Do I want to describe them? Sometimes yes; sometimes no.
In Carmilla’s Ghost, most of the discussions of rape and abuse came from journal entries where Carmilla wanted to record the truth of her experiences but only a select few details. Stone Cold reads more like a true crime story/mystery/thriller, and so part of me feels the details are needed. But part of me has no desire to write and describe multiple scenes of graphic violence. Or maybe it’s the specific nature of the violence being suggested.
We all have lines we don’t want crossed. I put a content warning on Carmilla’s Ghost (or at least I sent the file to the publisher with one, whether it made it, I’ll have to check). I am putting one on Stone Cold as well. I know if I read graphic depictions of the acts I’m alluding to in this book, I would have to put the book down, knowing I could only finish it were I in the proper head space. Simply imagining the acts and writing allusions to them causes me to slow my pace, take breaks, and end my writing days early.
That said, I’m super happy with how the story is unfolding as a narrative, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone next spring.
My debut novel, Liam’s Doom, is on sale at all major and minor retail outlets from Amazon to Barnes & Noble to Bookshop.org. I request that you support Bookshop.org, as their site supports local and independent bookstores. The eBook is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and through my webstore.
Carmilla’s Ghost is now on sale. The paperback version is available all major online retailers, including Amazon, Bookshop.org and at Barnes & Noble. Currently, eBook pre-orders are only available at Amazon and through my webstore.
And my prequel novel, Blood/Lust is also available as an Amazon exclusive.