I’ve always wanted to write something that would “move” people. Not move them out of my circle of friends, but move them to feel something. It’s a puzzle I’m still putting together.
I like literature, drama, and really sad stories. I’ve read Amy Tan, Alice Hoffman, Kate Chopin, and my favorite author is Jhumpa Lahiri. These writers deal with the subtleties of human emotion. They can describe brushing one’s teeth, and pull a tear from your eye. So when I finished writing “Wind River” my first though was – “Oh crap. I’ve just written a horror novel.”
I shouldn’t have been surprised, I guess. When I was a kid I felt sorry for the Wicked Witch of the West, Gene Simmons was my favorite member of KISS, I only liked Decepticon Transformers, Darth Vader was the coolest guy imaginable, and during my first book report in AP high school English, I spat blood while telling the truncated story of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
But I never wanted to scare people with my writing, I wanted to move people. I thought there was a difference.
I’m not sure if there is a place on the bookstore shelf (or Amazon recommendations) for a literary horror novel like mine. It starts off like one of those classic tales, with a young bride, her distant husband, a secret lover, a disturbing childhood, and a struggle against the elements. But then some really dark stuff starts to happen, and by the time it is through, it is a battle against unknowable evil, in an isolated town filled with sick, tormented, and murderous people. So much for a light, heartwarming read.
For a long time I thought the book was a failure. I thought I had written it well, but knew that it probably was too over-the-top. And I was disappointed that I had missed my chance to really say something about the world. But then, someone told me I was wrong.
One of my critique partners said that the book had “changed” her. “Haunted” her. That it was a stunning commentary on the claiming of things that don’t belong to you.
I would like to thank her for saying those things. No one had said that to me before. Now, I don’t feel like a failure. Because I have done what I set out to do, even if it was only with one person.
For any writer, that’s usually enough.