Things have been dull around here lately so updates have been few and far between I’ve sent The Devil at Your Heels to a few places as well as setting it up on a couple of review sites. Mainly, readers have said a number of nice things about the story, but one did point out an inherent weakness – which was why what was happening, was happening.
Now, the easy answer is that this is genre fiction and in genre fiction, by its nature, anything goes. A hobbit lives in a hole because it can. Thomas Covenant is a nasty bastard because his leprosy has magically reversed itself. A dead woman comes back to life and pursues her killer – for me, the important thing isn’t why it happened, but the fact it is happening and the repercussions.
On the other hand, I do understand why readers would want to understand why events have occurred. And a better writer than myself would probably look at the story again and use that question (why?) to add further to it. Is Arthur hallucinating? Has he gone mad? Has he cracked under the pressure of work? Adding a psychological edge to what is a straight up horror tale would give it more depth than what I’ve offered.
I’ve recently read an interview Ramsay Campbell gave to a horror zine called Tekeli-li in the early 90s. The zine is now defunct but the four issues do pop up now and then on e-bay and it seems to be worth tracking down. In it, Campbell described how he went from writing straight Lovecraft pastiches to finding his voice by developing the psychological aspects of his characters and how the horror for them and the reader developed out of that. Food for thought.
Still, I’m happy to have The Devil at Your Heels finished, polished and out there. Fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, I’ve started on another piece which won’t be horror (though it will have horror overtones), but a venture into sword and sorcery (yes, I’m a trapped in a genre hellhole) – what can I do except knuckle down and get the damn thing finished by the deadline at the end of this month?