you play you pay


Burning Man was truly excellent, although it left me fatigued and drained and hung and recovering. And also a bit anti-social, which is probably my personality’s natural reaction to being so intensely and happily social over several days and nights. When I have restored my senses, energy, and brainpower a bit more I do want to write about the experience. But not today.


My editor emailed to say she “received my first finished copy of BLOODANGEL — and it’s GORGEOUS!” She’s ordered my contract copies — my contract grants me a handful of free copies, I can’t quite remember how many — and says I’ll have them within two or three business weeks. So I’m psyched. I’ll set the American copy beside its German sibling and look at them sitting there on my shelves like real books and shake my head in a sense of dazed wonder.


My friend Mark, a published novelist, and I were emailing each other some thoughts and dissatisfactions about contemporary horror fiction when he brought up the issue of artistry and relayed an anecdote I immediately decided to share here.

Mark says: “…at a writing class I once taught on “The only rule is there are no rules,” I read a passage from [this particular novel] without telling anyone it was [this author’s] work. It’s the bit where the hero and his little boy are out flying a kite…I consider it to be one of the most beautiful and eloquent scenes in contemporary fiction {and did so even before I had a son of my own}, and the passage visibly moved all my listeners. When I told them who wrote it, you should have seen their faces!).”

The book was Pet Sematary; the writer was Stephen King.

And this is why so many people over the last twenty or thirty years have tried to rip off King, sneering “I can write better than that”, only to be surprised when their book does a huge bellyflop into oblivion. King’s success isn’t just because of the vampires and child-killing clowns, the gore and gross-outs — although as far as I’m concerned there still isn’t any other writer out there who can chill me in quite the way King can (although there are a handful who come very close).

It’s because behind all the supernatural stuff, the monsters, there’s a guy and his kid out flying a kite.


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