I'm terrified of death.
Not of hell, mind you, but of the complete end of conciousness – of there being absolutley nothing for us after we die.
Most of my friends and family know that already, and now you do too. I think that most people are, even if they don't want to admit it. I'm sure that on occasion even the staunchest fire and brimstone preacher has a couple of moments in the dark just before they fall asleep where their heart skips a beat and they wonder if nothing else is out there after this life except the nothingness we all spring from and just what the ramifications of that really are.
What's the point, you might ask?
Because, at the root of it all, that's a huge part of why I write.
Yes, I love to entertain people and enjoy hearing feedback on my writing, even if it's negative.
Yes, I love to tell a story, and sometimes one grabs hold of me and doesn't let go until it's on paper, just like most writers.
I've been doing it since I was a little kid, this writing thing. I've still got a book I wrote back in the third or fourth grade. Everyone else wrote about dogs and treasure hunting, and I wrote a Friday the 13th knockoff about a madman killing people in an amusement park. That kind of stuff would get a kid suspended today, but in the eighties it was more than okay (even though I'm sure the teachers kept an extra eye on me during cut and paste activities).
Point is, my stories have always been dark and always focused on death in some fashion. Which is why I think my fear of death has something to do with the fact that I embrace it on the page.
I know it isn't going to ward off the grim reaper, but the truth is that somewhere in my psyche there's something comforting about writing about the one thing that scares me. Doesn't matter what gets you in the end – a stabbing, a car crash, a werewolf – you'll be dead. And instead of just endlessly dwelling on my fear of death until I have a panic attack, I write about good people getting killed.
Okay, so they aren't all good. Some of them probably deserve it. But they die, good and bad, and often in pretty horrible ways. And I sleep a little bit better at night because of it, oddly enough.
You'll see this theme in a lot of my stories. Not people dieing – that's pretty common in the horror field, obviously. I mean the theme of really pondering death. Coping with it, dealing with it.
My debut novel “Containment Room Seven” will be released by Permuted Press soon, and a character in it has a similar fear that ultimately consumes him. It also asks questions about faith, god, fear, and perseverance. All in a sci-fi setting.
The novel I'm working on right now features a man who, while not afraid of death, is still intrigued by it. It doesn't consume him in quite the same way, although It's still up in the air as to whether or not something consumes him, albeit something a bit more tangible. It delves into demons (both of the personal and literal kind), drugs, grief, and family, but that black cloud of death and what it means is always there as well.
And even in a couple of my short stories, the theme is there.
Facing death for the first time as a child.
Causing death and convincing yourself it was for a damn good reason.
And coming face to face with the literal manifestation of the black, unending void itself.
Those themes are there, along with countless other ones mixed in with tentacled beasts, living shadows, creatures from beneath the earth, zombies, and religion gone horribly wrong.
I'm not sure why the writing makes it easier to deal with death, but it honestly does.
Hopefully somewhere in the midst of making myself feel better, I can manage to scare the hell out some readers. Scaring people in fiction, I've learned, is harder than most realize just because there are no visual or audio cues to get to them. No screeching violin strings when a killer pounces, if you will. You've got to write things that make them feel that tingling on the nape of their neck and genuinely creep them out. I'm getting better at that with each sentence, I think.
If you're interested in reading some of these tales, There are a few free stories up on my website at www.bryanhallfiction.com, and more will be added once the release of my novel approaches. Be sure to check out “The Dark” if you want an example of what I've been talking about.
You'll also find my own regularly updated blog on the site. Most of those posts deal with writing, horror, or some combination of the two. I'm also considering releasing a collection of new and previously published stories for a low price, once I get the time. And as mentioned, Permuted Press will be releasing Containment Room Seven in the very near future, so keep your eyes peeled for that as well.