Saturday, November 17, 2012

Writing the supernatural action-thriller

I have always loved reading horror—Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Bentley Little, Edward Lee—I can’t explain it. It just appeals to me. I guess the thought of flawed humans overcoming insurmountable odds and saving the world from some inhuman beast or life-threatening super-organism is just, well…cool. Sure, sometimes the good guy or woman dies at the end, but that’s life. Heroes are willing to pay the ultimate price so that others may live.

One of my other loves in fiction is the thriller, whether it’s politics, crime, military, whatever. Brad Thor, Vince Flynn, Nelson DeMille, Lee Child, James Patterson, Clive Cussler—I love ‘em all.

But for a long time, there seemed to be a lack of novels that really mixed action/adventure and supernatural horror into one story. I wanted something that was creepy, but that also moved along at a good clip and had memorable characters. There were very few novelists that were doing that kind of thing—Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, John Saul, William Meikle and Jeremy Robinson are some names that come to mind.

So I decided that I would try to create stories I would like to read, something that incorporated both supernatural horror and action/adventure. I had written some short stories, but I wanted something that would keep readers enthralled for a few days. My first undertaking was DIABLERO, a story about modern-day voodoo and the resurrection of a three-hundred year old pirate, Blackbeard. 

I got some good reviews for that book, sold a few hundred copies with Nightbird Publishing and Crossroad Press. But for my next story, I wanted something even bigger involving the CIA, the military, the supernatural, and some human drama. So I took characters from my first novel, Hunter and Lisa Singleton, and put them into my new book.

LILITH is a supernatural creature who takes possession of the crew of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, and is then set free in the streets of Manhattan after it gets demolished by a huge storm. It was a very fun book to write.

My next novel, tentatively titled PRIMORDIAL, will be on an even bigger scale, believe it or not. Did I tell you I want my stakes to be high? Even the young adult sci-fi novel I’m working on is high-octane. Can I help it if I like things to move along at a good clip? And guns? And explosions? And…and…oh, sorry. I get carried away. But you get the picture.

I tried writing “literary” horror. Yeah, that didn’t work out. I kept falling asleep and drooling on the keyboard. Shorted out a lot of PCs. Don’t get me wrong, I love the classics—Frankenstein, Dracula, The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow—and I owe my career to them. But modern times demand that we stretch our writing chops to mix genres that may not have been previously incorporated, e.g., the vampire western, the zombie literary classic, the sci-fi detective, and so on.

So now, I present to you the supernatural action-thriller. I hope you like it.