[Editor’s Note:] First, let me apologize to Faith Hunter and to Adonna Pruette, who was coordinating her blog tour. This post was supposed to run on October 1st or 2nd and it became buried under the weight of a hundreds of other emails and overlooked until just last night when I attempted to weed out old material. I hope in this case better late than never applies.
And now from Faith…
I didn’t start out writing horror. Well, not exactly. And I haven’t ended up writing horror. Well, not exactly. But then again … maybe I did and have. I am Faith Hunter, and I’ve been a commercially published writer for over twenty years. My current books are marketed as Dark Urban Fantasy, but there is a clear trend in all my novels into the horror market simply because of the paranormal element and, well, the gore. There. I said it. I write gory stuff. Always have.
In the beginning, I was published under the name of Gary Hunter, writing street-savvy police procedurals and men’s action adventure with a cop cowriter named Gary Leveille. We had two novels published, both set in Washington, DC, and the first book began with a gun battle in a rundown neighborhood. There was lots of gore in both novels. It was with this set of books that I discovered that I had a talent for fighting, dead bodies, and blood spatter.
Under another name, Gwen Hunter, (finally got to use my own first name) I was writing solo in the thriller genre, specifically a sub-genre called WomJep, or Woman in Jeopardy. These were traditional thrillers but with a female main character, who was in danger from a male character and who had to survive, most often by dispatching the bad guy. Natch.
My first book as Gwen had several very bad guys and my main character killed most of them all by herself with a variety of guns, the careful positioning of a rattlesnake, and a chase through the bayou during alligator mating season, during which one guy got eaten. Ummm. Gory. And in that respect, my horror writing career was born.
I get asked about the gory stuff a lot. Apparently I’m good at it. And I came into my own when I changed writing names (Faith is mine too) and genres, and started writing fantasy. Fantasy has always had a close connection to horror because fantasy usually involves something evil trying to kill something good and something (or someone) good, trying to kill/stop/destroy/chain-up/or otherwise dispatch the Big Bad Ugly Evil. With Dark Urban Fantasy, the main characters are in direct danger of that evil and take care of business themselves, most often by using stakes, silver bullets, or silver blades. Or all three. It’s a bloody business. Hence the connection to horror market and horror writers.
So how did I get started? I came by my addiction to gore honestly. I graduated high school early and went into my training in the field of Allied Health Sciences far earlier than most students. Which means that I saw my first autopsy when I was nineteen years old. To this day I remember the way lividity marks human flesh — not in smooth configurations, but in striations and odd patterns. The sound a scalpel makes when it cuts a long opening in human flesh really quickly. The smell of the interior of a recently dead human. The way blood flows when there is no heartbeat. The way it looks as it gathers and pools on stainless steel before running along the troughs in an autopsy table and into the collection bucket. Real life is far more gory than fiction, even with the up-close-and-person camera work of TV shows like CSI. And I loved it! Death was fascinating to me then and still is today.
My appreciation for weapons started even earlier, when my dad taught me to shoot in the woods behind the house, during a bad rabies outbreak. I really liked that small .32. I like my 1940s H&K even better. But not as much as my brand new, lightweight, Taurus 9 mil. Now, that is a sweet weapon!
When people accuse me of writing gore, or writing horror, I usually just smile and say, “Yes.” While I try to picture their faces if I were to describe that first autopsy in its full sensory detail. And how they might shudder if I gushed about my weapons.
What is the lesson for readers of horror here? Be flexible. Just because it doesn’t say horror on the cover, doesn’t mean it is foreign to your favorite genre. It might fit that niche with a nice little click — the sound of silver stakes tapping once in anticipation.
As to writers, well, writing careers don’t always end up the way we writers envision in the beginning, but they can lead us to great destinations if we are flexible and open to new possibilities in a new genre-bending, genre-crossing, genre-blending market.
Thanks for reading. And if you haven’t checked out my Jane Yellowrock series, well, you might give it a try. Jane is a six-foot-tall Cherokee Skinwalker in modern-day New Orleans, and she carries enough guns, blades, silver stakes, and ash stakes to start a small vamp-war. And win.
[Editor’s Note:] You can pick up the mass market paperback of the latest book in the Jane Yellowrock series here: Death’s Rival