Estevan Vega (Author of Arson, Ashes, Music Box, and others) popped over to say hello with an awesome guest post about what scares us and what writing horror isreallyabout. Here’s ‘A Room of Mirrors’ from Estevan. Take it away!
What terrifies you? What makes you gnaw at your fingernails, tense up, question things?
Ever since I was a young boy, I possessed a fascination for dark things. Stuff that made me look both ways and question if I really was ready to go to bed just yet. Ideas and concepts and plots I enjoyed but also feared. Human beings are strange creatures. We fall in love with those who may bring about our ruin. We become addicts to things that could kill us. We marvel at the spectacle of pain visiting others on a silver screen but never truly wish for that kind of torment to come looking for us. Humans are a scary, walking contradiction.
But that’s what makes us insanely fun to write about. That’s what makes us dangerous, unique, unpredictable. If anyone is serious about the craft of writing, about creating raw, realistic character who must endure realistic, intense situations, the first necessary study must be the human. The human mind. The human heart. The human soul. These things drive fiction the same way they drive everyday life. In order to tap into this horrorshow arena, you must be ready to take a good, hard look in the mirror, examine the world, and examine yourself. What dark things lurk in the corners of your own mind? What unknown horrors exist beneath your skin? Every good book must have conflict, and in order to write good fiction, sometimes it needs to probe a little deeper and force readers into…uncomfortable territories.
I grew up watching creepy movies, reading bizarre stories, and developed a passion for these kinds of tales, mainly because they spoke a little louder than the typical. They pushed me into a place I wasn’t always sure I would wanna go, but I knew I would survive. My parents were always scratching their heads, wondering why their son was so fascinated by strange films and at times stranger books. Also, chances are they feared I might end up mentally scarred and turn into this sinister criminal mind. Jury’s still out on the latter. But the reason I like the creepy factor, the reason we all probably thirst for it, is because of how it makes us feel. For whatever reason, our minds can handle a fictional universe where everything ends dismal and dreary—even sadistic. But it’s a sort of fantasy, you see. An escape from the mundane and ordinary existences we’ve written for ourselves with our day jobs and our cookie-cutter lifestyles. We seek the thrill, the danger, the fear that makes us human. Is this to say that writers who glaze over the murky parts of a character are false writers? You be the judge on that one. As for me, I’m not okay simply scratching the surface. I’m not okay playing it safe with fiction. For me, that’s not the real world, and that’s no way to write.
I am often asked to label myself. What genre do I write in? So many want to know. But it’s probably the most difficult question for me to answer. And that’s because I don’t just write one genre. I don’t write fantasy. I don’t write love stories. I don’t write mysteries. I don’t write horror. I tell people that I do, because half the time they just want a surface answer, and it’s the easiest way to give them what they want without kicking and screaming. But what I really write about is human nature, the human condition. It’s a fearful place to enter. It’s a scary concept to absorb. Sometimes, I write about love. Sometimes, I write about hope and faith and the deepest mysteries. Sometimes I write with a dark perspective, and I may just make you question if the real monster is the one turning the page.
Real stories…great fiction…is not a typical, singular, lonely genre. Instead, think of it like a mirror or a room of mirrors reflecting the oddest, most peculiar and fearful creation on planet earth: the human soul. If I could create a genre, it would be human fiction, because I write about mankind coming to grips with both sides of his true nature. You may not like what you see. Maybe it will frighten you. Maybe it will make you squirm. Maybe you’ll want to close your eyes.
Sometimes it’s dark in here. Welcome to my world.
Estevan Vega began writing in 5th grade and published his first book at 15. His latest thriller, THE FORSAKEN, has had over 22,000 eBook downloads in less than 3 months. Vega’s fascination for the supernatural and for raw, dysfunctional characters led to the creation of the gripping ARSON trilogy. Books one and two (Arson and Ashes) are currently available. Look for book 3 in 2013. In addition, he has written several short stories, all available online. He lives in Connecticut, loves rock music, superheroes, and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Stalk him responsibly at www.estevanvega.com, on twitter (@estevanvega), or on facebook (we are arson). Also, click here for the exclusive Lytherus interview with Vega!