Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why Weird Stuff?

When people ask what kind of stories I write, I tell them I write “weird stuff”. Either they usually respond favorably, or they say, “Oh…okay…” But, no one has ever asked why.

I feel any writer has passion for the particular genre s/he writes. Literary authors may enjoy realism, for example. For me, my love of “weird stuff” has been life-long. My Barbies were often wizards and sometimes zombie hunters. I enjoyed TV shows with a sci-fi or fantasy element. (ex: Gargoyles, Transformers: Beast Wars, anime including Dragonball Z and the various Tenchis) I started reading fantasy when I read Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown. I used these things with speculative subjects as an escape from my everyday life.

When I decided I wanted to be a writer, standard fiction never crossed my mind. My first novel idea (which was also a scenario I played out with my dolls) was about King Arthur returning in the modern day. The rest of the ideas I came up with were traditional fantasy and some sci-fi, with a little urban fantasy thrown in. Of course, I didn’t know it was called urban fantasy at the time. I just thought, “Modern day? Why not dragons?”

I didn’t write anything in high school really, because of my own insecurities, but I always read. Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom books were among my favorites. His books introduced darker fantasy to me. I mean, what’s darker than necromancers and the undead?

I discovered Neil Gaiman through his short story “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire” in a collection called Gothic. I became more interested in dark fiction as time wore on. I was an angsty teen, so the darker things were the better. I was a library aide my senior year of high school, and I noticed a small collection of Gaiman’s books. I read Stardust, but was just okay in my opinion. Then I read Neverwhere, which is probably my first proper urban fantasy. I was amazed at how Gaiman created a completely new world that was just below an existing one. Then, I read American Gods, and it changed my life. The epic nature! The characters! Everything was wonderful.

Then, zombies came for me when I read The Zombie Survival Guide my freshman year of college, and I never looked back. I soon thought of the idea for my zombie western, even though I didn’t write it until my junior year. I became obsessed with zombies and the undead, and I still am.

I started reading some of Christopher Moore’s books before my sophomore year of college. Even though he’s in the “regular fiction” section, he has written about monsters and vampires and zombies. Above all, though, he’s funny as hell. He inspired me to infuse humor into my writing, even if I don’t always succeed.

So, here I am: a writer-lady that is kind of paranoid and who likes weird things. Other people like weird things, so I write weird things I hope they like.

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