My favourite films are Jaws, The Wizard of Oz, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future: Part II, and Jurassic Park. Growing up I was always interested in film and TV, which then developed into more narrative driven games like Final Fantasy VII. It’s probably why I was more interested in Spyro than I was Crash. I didn’t start getting into books until I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and that was only because I saw the film. Anyway, my whole creative spark comes from all forms of narrative storytelling. One of my favourite Doctors from Doctor Who is the Eighth Doctor, who only appeared on screen for a one-off TV Film and a mini-episode ahead of the 50th Anniversary, but flourishes in his audio adventures produced by Big Finish. Usually I’d find myself looking at a show and thinking to myself: “that’s not what I would have done”. I wouldn’t have made Tommy the leader of the Power Rangers while Jason was still in the show. I wouldn’t have made Scott so frustratingly underpowered in MTV’s Teen Wolf.
It isn’t just limited to TV shows. 2018’s Halloween is the exact opposite of what I would have done. I wouldn’t have set it in modern times and I wouldn’t have brought Laurie Strode back (again). Don’t get me wrong, I liked the film but when they announced they were retconning everything past the first film I wanted something more similar to the comics and the novels by Kelly O’Rourke. I mean sure, my ideas probably wouldn’t have resulted in the slightly unjustified critically acclaim that it got but still. Again, I like the film but c’mon. It really isn’t any better than Halloween 2 or The Return of Michael Myers and those films are critically panned.
I’m rambling. What I’m getting at is that by thinking to myself “I would have done it differently” I accidentally come up with new stories, regardless of the genre. Hush is totally an amalgamation of my original idea for a Halloween reboot/reimagining/recalibration and what I thought was happening in season 1 of MTV’s Scream. The Ulysses Chronicles is literally born out of me looking at Doctor Who and coming up with my own ideas for a series. I’m claiming my ideas are better than the actual product… except I’ll always be annoyed that Danielle Harris wasn’t brought in to play Laurie’s daughter. As a fan, I’m annoyed I’ll never get to see them on screen together. Anyway, with different genres means I have to come up with a different type of voice when writing them. I can’t write Darkest Nights the same way I write Hush. When having Darkest Nights - Awakening edited my editor pointed out that some of the scenes featured horror levels of gore. It was completely accidental. I hadn’t gone in thinking of it as a horror novel, and I still don’t, even though some of my friends and readers do. I looked at it in a similar vein to Buffy and Angel. If anything, I was going for a kind of vibe in-between Buffy and Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters is often considered a flat out comedy, but it really isn’t. It’s a comedy, yes, but there are plenty of horror elements to it. It’s even lit and filmed like a horror film most of the time. It’s sort of like how some people don’t consider Jaws a horror film. It’s 100% a horror film. It’s a horror film with action adventure elements that only come into play during the last act of the film.
Darkest Nights is a supernatural action/thriller series but Hush is horror with mystery elements. It’s mean-spirited at times. You’ll have scenes designed specifically to get you invested in the characters before I kill them off in graphic and unjustified ways. I have characters that are written to be unlikable that you’ll want to die but may just end up surviving…or they might not. The book isn’t out until next year so I’m not going to give away anything concrete but even though Darkest Nights has horror elements, it never goes into the kind of horror territory that Hush does. I took out the “horror-levels of gore” out of Darkest Nights but you can be damn sure they’re not going anywhere in Hush. I knew I was onto something when I had my best friend read a murder scene on the train to France and he went green. But on the flip side of that, I have The Ulysses Chronicles. It’s a sci-fi series and while I’m not against having horror elements in the some of the stories The Ulysses Chronicles, it’s not meant to be that kind of series. It’s meant to be light and breezy. Hush is raw and unfiltered while Ulysses is, for the most part, hopeful and fun. I have to be in a completely different mind set with each book. I can’t go from writing Hush Part II straight to writing my children’s novel featuring a mermaid (look out for news and updates about that).
One of my problems with writing different genres is that I sometimes prefer writing certain stories or elements of that story, meaning that the novels I’m writing that don’t have those elements can sometimes feel like a chore. It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing them, it just I’d rather be writing something else…if that makes sense. A problem with rewriting Darkest Nights - Ashes to Ashes is that I really have the whole editing/rewriting process so actually doing it really bores me. I love the story. I love where I take the characters, but I’m not enjoying putting it together again. It’s taken me so long to rewrite it that I actually had to write an intermediary novel just to tide fans over until I get it done. Ironically the intermediary novel is about the length of what I had left to write for Ashes to Ashes- but that was accidental. It was a novella that just sort of evolved to the length of a full novel.
The biggest problem with writing so many genres is that I’m not sure how to market myself. I don’t want to be a genre writer- or be considered one. Stephen King doesn’t only write horror, but it’s what he’s most famous for. J.K Rowling is always going to be known as the Harry Potter author, regardless what what else she puts out there. Whenever a Harry Potter article is posted about her expanding the universe there are always comments about “how she must need the money” or “can’t she just move on?”. Well, yeah. She has. The Cormoran Strike novels. She’s written four of them and had The Casual Vacancy…but I couldn’t bring myself to finish that one. How do I stop myself from being seen in the same light? It’s probably why I haven’t just looked at it as “finish the whole Darkest Nights series then do the Hush trilogy, then Ulysses” and so on. I don’t want to be tied to just one genre in people’s minds, but on the flip side it means that certain sequels will take longer to come out since I’ll be working on a new book. Awakening came out in 2015 and only four years later is it getting any kind of a sequel. On the plus side, I currently have three books written, with the plan being to have Ashes to Ashes and SurgeGlaive finished in the next few months, meaning after Ascension comes out in December that I’ll have four books written. I can set about coming up with a publication plan that allows me to push new stories out for readers while giving me enough time to get sequels and new original stories written, but how do I stop people looking at Hush and going “there’s no way this guy can write a children’s novel” or the alternative: “oh he writes children’s novels, there’s no way he could write something more adult”. Sometimes I wonder if I should use multiple pen names, but that then means I have to spend a huge amount of time building up a following for each pen name. I’m already trying to do that with one for a certain story but with writing and trying to keep up with my social media for my main account, my pen-name account is going neglected, possibly impacting that story in a negative way.
It’s all a work in progress really.