Maybe I’ve limited myself to only writing horror?
But honestly, I’ll write whatever the hell I want.
My most recent novel Hollow House was a twist on the haunted house tale, but the story was also about how we are a society of apathy; how we really couldn’t care less about our neighbours.
The novel I’m writing now is a sequel to The Noctuary, but instead of just a continuation with more of the same monsters, the work is slowly turning into a much deeper mythology which goes right back to the beginnings of civilisation to find out where the darkness inside of all of us comes from.
When I go to any author events fledgling authors approach me and talk about how they want to write a sci-fi novel or a dark fantasy novel. It usually takes me a few prompts to get them to tell me what the story is about and why they want to write it. That’s what writing is all about for me – the meaning of the story. I’ve written about this sort of thing before, but I don’t want to go over that again. What I want to talk about (in a very round-about way) is self-doubt.
I think self-doubt comes to writers because at the outset we feel we have to slot our stories into genres and sub-genres. First and foremost, the story should be the central focus and nothing else. Screw all that genre stuff, or premature editing. Just write the story that first comes into your head. Seek the meaning of the story within yourself and the rest will flow from there.
Years ago I contemplated writing crime, and I penned a few short stories in the crime/mystery genre, but my tales seemed way too dark and exploratory for it. I realised I was boxing myself into a “genre”. I shrugged off the labels and let my ideas and concepts lead me to what I wanted to write. I wanted to tell stories, and those stories just happened to be dark and neatly slotted into the “horror genre”.
I like to explore dark themes. The human race is inherently flawed and you only need to turn on the news on any given night of the week to see what we’re capable of. Not all of my stories have a happy ending or even a clear ending. You might not even find a hero within the pages of my books, nevertheless, they’re the stories I wanted to tell.
And if you’re reading this and doubting yourself, shrug it off and write whatever the hell YOU want to write.