Tag Archives: Stephen King

WHY WE LOVE GETTING SHIT-SCARED

A3We’re fascinated by monsters. Violent horror movies. Psychological crime thrillers. Blood, guts, and terror are blockbusters. They’ve been bestsellers for generations. Something’s buried deep in our collective subconscious that craves fright—something hard-wired in our brains that physiologically reacts in a fight-or-flight response when facing horrific, brutal, and shocking creatures and events.

A1We know lots of fictional monsters. Freddy Krueger. Norman Bates. Hannibal Lector. They’re household names. We love watching them perform—from a safe distance. But most know nothing of real-life monsters like Michael Oros, Billy Ray Shaughnessy, Esa Raasanen, and David Shearing. I guarantee these creeps will scare the living shit out of you because I know who they are…what they’ve done…what they can do…

I’ve investigated them. I’ve written about them. And I’ll tell you about these true-life monsters in a bit.

So, why do we love fright? Because fright gives us pleasure.

A4My internet friend, Lisa Cron, wrote Wired For Story. This was a game changer for me. As a crime thriller author, I wanted to know what makes psychological crime thriller readers tick—why so many are fascinated with death—so I could write better stories.

Particularly murder stories.

Lisa explained shock is the triggering mechanism for releasing our brain’s chemicals that active a fight-or-flight response. Our brains are lightning fast at assessing threats. Shock stimulus shoots adrenaline, oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine re-uptakes through our neurotransmitters. This mentally and physically prepares our neuromuscular systems for a drastic response. It shoves us to the edge of the mental cliff.

Ready to run. Or fit to fight. But not to fall.

These natural chemicals are also responsible for giving us pleasure. This shock rush is like crack to the brain and it craves a repeat—provided we know we’re in a safe environment—subconsciously reassured when we’re at home, quietly watching TV or reading a book.

Lisa says more about why our brains crave fright. Ultimately, our brain has one overall responsibility for the rest of our body.

To ensure our survival.

A5Our brains evaluate everything we encounter with a simple question. Is this going to help me or hurt me? Not just physically.

Emotionally, as well.

From the start of a story—from the very first scene—our brains crave a sense of urgency that instantly makes us want to know what happens next. It’s a visceral feeling…seducing us into leaving the real world behind and surrendering into world of story. Our brain’s goal is to predict what might happen so we can figure out what to do before it happens.

This is where shock value comes in. And where the monsters come on.

A7Storytelling’s master of monsters and sheik of shock is Stephen King. He’s scared the shit out of millions and his audience is massive. They love it and keep coming back for more. It’s because Stephen King gives readers pleasure.

I’ve repeatedly sent emails to Stephen King asking permission to republish an outstanding article he wrote years ago. It’s called Why We Crave Horror Movies.

I don’t know if the master’s too busy or if I’m a small pupil, but Stephen King ignores me. Nerve of him, after all the money I spent on his stuff.

So I said “Fuck Stephen King.” I’m tired of waiting.

A8Stephen King’s piece on why we love getting shit-scared is just too good not to share. Therefore, I evoke the “doctrine of fair use and open source domain in accordance to the statutory and common-law allowances of the country of publication”. Besides, you can download and read the pdf here.

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Why We Crave Horror Movies–By Stephen King

I think that we’re all mentally ill; those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better—and maybe not all that much better, after all. We’ve all known people who talk to themselves, people who sometimes squinch their faces into horrible grimaces when they believe no one is watching, people who have some hysterical fear—of snakes, the dark, the tight place, the long drop . . . and, of course, those final worms and grubs that are waiting so patiently underground.
When we pay our four or five bucks and seat ourselves at tenth-row center in a theater showing a horror movie, we are daring the nightmare.
Why? Some of the reasons are simple and obvious. To show that we can, that we are not afraid, that we can ride this roller coaster. Which is not to say that a really good horror movie may not surprise a scream out of us at some point, the way we may scream when the roller coaster twists through a complete 360 or plows through a lake at the bottom of the drop. And horror movies, like roller coasters, have always been the special province of the young; by the time one turns 40 or 50, one’s appetite for double twists or 360-degree loops may be considerably depleted.

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We also go to re-establish our feelings of essential normality; the horror movie is innately conservative, even reactionary. Freda Jackson as the horrible melting woman in Die, Monster, Die! confirms for us that no matter how far we may be removed from the beauty of a Robert Redford or a Diana Ross, we are still light-years from true ugliness.
And we go to have fun.
Ah, but this is where the ground starts to slope away, isn’t it? Because this is a very peculiar sort of fun, indeed. The fun comes from seeing others menaced – sometimes killed. One critic has suggested that if pro football has become the voyeur’s version of combat, then the horror film has become the modern version of the public lynching.
It is true that the mythic “fairy-tale” horror film intends to take away the shades of gray . . . . It urges us to put away our more civilized and adult penchant for analysis and to become children again, seeing things in pure blacks and whites. It may be that horror movies provide psychic relief on this level because this invitation to lapse into simplicity, irrationality, and even outright madness is extended so rarely. We are told we may allow our emotions a free rein . . . or no rein at all.

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If we are all insane, then sanity becomes a matter of degree.
If your insanity leads you to carve up women like Jack the Ripper or the Cleveland Torso Murderer, we clap you away in the funny farm (but neither of those two amateur-night surgeons was ever caught, heh-heh-heh); if, on the other hand, your insanity leads you only to talk to yourself when you’re under stress or to pick your nose on your morning bus, then you are left alone to go about your business . . . though it is doubtful that you will ever be invited to the best parties.
The potential lyncher is in almost all of us (excluding saints, past and present; but then, most saints have been crazy in their own ways), and every now and then, he has to be let loose to scream and roll around in the grass. Our emotions and our fears form their own body, and we recognize that it demands its own exercise to maintain proper muscle tone. Certain of these emotional muscles are accepted – even exalted – in civilized society; they are, of course, the emotions that tend to maintain the status quo of civilization itself. Love, friendship, loyalty, kindness — these are all the emotions that we applaud, emotions that have been immortalized in the couplets of Hallmark cards and in the verses (I don’t dare call it poetry) of Leonard Nimoy.
When we exhibit these emotions, society showers us with positive reinforcement; we learn this even before we get out of diapers. When, as children, we hug our rotten little puke of a sister and give her a kiss, all the aunts and uncles smile and twit and cry, “Isn’t he the sweetest little thing?” Such coveted treats as chocolate-covered graham crackers often follow. But if we deliberately slam the rotten little puke of a sister’s fingers in the door, sanctions follow – angry remonstrance from parents, aunts and uncles; instead of a chocolate-covered graham cracker, a spanking.

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But anticivilization emotions don’t go away, and they demand periodic exercise. We have such “sick” jokes as, “What’s the difference between a truckload of bowling balls and a truckload of dead babies?” (You can’t unload a truckload of bowling balls with a pitchfork . . . a joke, by the way, that I heard originally from a ten-year-old.) Such a joke may surprise a laugh or a grin out of us even as we recoil, a possibility that confirms the thesis: If we share a brotherhood of man, then we also share an insanity of man. None of which is intended as a defense of either the sick joke or insanity but merely as an explanation of why the best horror films, like the best fairy tales, manage to be reactionary, anarchistic, and revolutionary all at the same time.
A12The mythic horror movie, like the sick joke, has a dirty job to do. It deliberately appeals to all that is worst in us. It is morbidity unchained, our most base instincts let free, our nastiest fantasies realized . . . and it all happens, fittingly enough, in the dark. For those reasons, good liberals often shy away from horror films. For myself, I like to see the most aggressive of them – Dawn of the Dead, for instance – as lifting a trap door in the civilized forebrain and throwing a basket of raw meat to the hungry alligators swimming around in that subterranean river beneath.
Why bother?
Because it keeps them from getting out, man. It keeps them down there and me up here. It was Lennon and McCartney who said that all you need is love, and I would agree with that.
As long as you keep the gators fed.

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There. That’s the best explanation of why we love getting shit-scared.

A14So where am I going with this monster, fear, and pleasure thing? Well, I’m doing shameless, self-promotion for the stories I write.

I write about human monsters because I’ve met a bunch and I try explaining how I think these extremely dangerous, fascinating, social-rejects operate. I also try portraying how police investigators behave—how real cops use creative and technological aids in modern-day monster-catching.

I believe an author’s storytelling job is to entertain, educate, and enlighten—and I believe there’s an intense reader interest in psychological crime thrillers. Here’s a snapshot of what I’m up to.

KushtakaNo Witnesses To Nothing is based on the true story of Michael Oros—a deranged bushman, terrorizing the frozen Canadian north and murdering people. Legend said Oros was the monstrous manifestation of a mythical shapeshifter who hunts people, kills them, and steals their souls. It’s also an intertwined, true story of two police informants who were murdered in apparent police-ordered hits. Deep down, No Witnesses To Nothing is not really a crime thriller. It’s a serious search for the science and spirituality behind our human existence. The soul.

Get No Witnesses To Nothing here.

NoLifeUntilDeath8No Life Until Death is the black-market world of international human organ trafficking. It parlays characters from No Witnesses To Nothing and continues the series of Sharlene Bate Crime Thrillers. No Life Until Death follows paths of two families whose daughters are targeted by a monstrous pair of abductors harvesting human organs in North America and shipping parts to the Philippines. No Life Until Death‘s tagline is Desperate People Do Desperate Things.

Get No Life Until Death here.

InTheAttic2In The Attic is the true story I investigated where Billy Ray Shaughnessy, a monstrous psychopath, hid in Maria Dersch’s attic with an ax. He climbed down at 3 a.m., slaughtering Maria and her new lover. It’s told in first-person with me, as the detective, narrating the story before and after the murders, as well as in Billy Ray’s homicidal thoughts while he lurked eight feet above. In The Attic‘s dialogue comes from actual transcripts and notes of my interviews with Maria and Billy Ray.

Get In The Attic here.

UnderTheGround8Under The Ground is from another factual case—the story of Esa Raasanaen and Kristen Madsen. It’s a monstrous tale of murder where Kristen disappeared and Esa was suspected of killing Kristen, disposing of her body. Under The Ground follows a highly-complex, psychological undercover sting where Esa was sucked into a fictional organized crime group. He confessed to the undercover operator and turned over Kristen’s body. What Esa did to Kristen…where he’d hidden her…was horrific—shocking to the most seasoned homicide investigators.

A15From The Shadows is my newest crime-thriller. The manuscript is underway. It’s based on the shocking true story of the worst monster imaginable. David Shearing murdered six members of the Johnson-Bentley family—three generations—to fulfill his psychopathic and pedophilic desire in capturing two pre-teen girls as sex slaves. From The Shadows follows the discovery of an unspeakable crime, the frustrating two-year investigation, and the final psychological break-down of Shearing during an outstanding police interrogation.

No Witnesses To Nothing, No Life Until Death, and In The Attic are currently available on Amazon.

Under The Ground is readying for publication. From The Shadows is close behind. I’m looking for ARC (Advance Reading Copy) readers for these two stories, so if you’d like an eBook file of either/both, email me at garry.rodgers@shaw.ca and I’ll ship you the monster stories.

…provided you love getting shit-scared.

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P.S. — Please comment, share on social media, and – if you’ve read the books – I’d really appreciate if you’d take a moment to leave a short review on Amazon. And thanks for your support in my writing and for following DyingWords!
~ Garry

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEPHEN KING

Stephen King HBDThe master of horror turned 67 today. I wish him many more years of creative success and providing unselfish guidance and inspiration to writers like me.

I saw the movie Carrie before I’d read anything by Stephen King or even heard of him. I then heard the story behind Carrie, which was his spark to success, and it planted the seed that one day I could become a successful writer, too.

In case you don’t know the story, Stephen King was raising kids, working in a laundry facility, and writing in his spare time. Like so many wanna-be authors, he received many rejections from agents and publishers. He gave up and threw the manuscript for Carrie in the garbage. His wife, Tabitha, fished it out and encouraged him to finish it then submit it to Doubleday. The rest is history.

Stephen King & FriendsWhen you look back over his forty-plus year career it’s, by any standards, impressive. He’s produce fifty novels, five non-fiction books, and around two hundred short stories. Then there’s the movies, TV series, graphic novels, and comics.

Most people know The Shining, The Stand, It, Cujo, Misery, The Green Mile, The Dark Tower Series, and Bag of Bones as household words. His recent works Under The Dome, Dr. Sleep, and Mr. Mercedes will also prove timeless.

My favourite Stephen King books are From a Buick Eight, 11/22/63, and On Writing.

King’s brilliant imagination shines in From a Buick Eight. It’s about a possessed car that a small Pennsylvania police department seized and kept stored in their garage. Down-right freakin’ freaky is the best I can describe the story. It held me right to the last word.

Stephen King 11226311/22/63 is a take on the November 22nd, 1963, assassination of US President John F. Kennedy. The plot is a time traveller going back to prevent the JFK murder. Knowing what I do about the JFK case, I found his attention to detail and historical accuracy impeccable. No question he did his homework, especially in portraying Lee Harvey Oswald to be the wife-beating asshole he truly was.

Stephen King On WritingEvery writer has to read and absorb On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft. This is one of the top five books I’d recommend to writers, regardless of their genre. Here’s a few points to lock in.

  • The key to good dialogue is honesty
  • All novels are letters aimed at one person – your ideal reader
  • Never tell a reader if you can show them
  • A slower pace gives a bigger and better build
  • Kill your darlings
  • Get backstory in as quick as possible
  • Grammar doesn’t wear a coat and tie
  • Read a lot and write a lot
  • Just tell the goddam story

One of Stephen King’s writing techniques is to imagine a ‘What-if?’ scenario and go from there, writing as you go and turning up what the mind uncovers. Misery is a good example. What if a psychotic nurse kidnapped a writer in the Colorado mountains?

Here’s a couple quotes from him on successful writing.

If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you paid the light bill with the money, I consider you successful.

Read and write four to six hours a day. If you can’t find the time for that, you can’t expect to be a good writer.

Sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing to do is shovel shit from a sitting position.

Stephen King charictureSome criticize Stephen King for being too long and verbose. I call bullshit. If you analyse his work, you’ll find that every word is necessary to tell the goddam story. And I love his fearless way of saying it.

They always fuck you at the drive-thru.

Happy Birthday, Mr. King, and keep on writing.

TOP 5 WRITER RESOURCES

If you had a choice of 5 places to turn for writing support, where would you go?

Writing SupportI’ve bounced about the workforce for 40 years now. My resume looks like I’m vastly experienced… or that I couldn’t keep a frikkin’ job.

But all my ventures had one thing in common. They required the ability to write. For the past 2 years, I’ve focused on storytelling and self-publishing, however I believe the principles of writing success are pretty much universal no matter what your genre or subject.

Here’s what stands out for me:

English Language

The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.J. White

Good 'ol plain English

Good ‘ol plain English

http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Style-Updated-Present-Day-ebook/dp/B006TH2CYU/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2

This short book contains the basics of composition, punctuation, and grammar. It gives practical examples of how to write with clarity – get your point across without bullshit. It’s a How-To, a How-Not-To, and it’s a contract killer on adverbs and adjectives.

Craft of Writing

On Writing by Stephen King

http://www.amazon.com/On-Writing-Memoir-Craft-ebook/dp/B000FC0SIM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1370824601&sr=1-1&keywords=on+writing

Most famous writer alive today

Most famous writer alive today

What’s really of value – it’s like sitting in a private meeting with King. Regardless if you like his stuff, you have to marvel at his success and he tells it in King style, F-words and all. Here’s straight goods from someone who’s been there / done that and he’s not one of the hordes of ‘experts’ who write about writing, rather than cranking out good stories that sell. I love his quote about Show vs. Tell – ‘Just tell the goddam story’ and about editorial correctness – ‘Grammer don’t wear no coat ‘n tie’.

Science of Storytelling

Wired For Story by Lisa Cron

http://www.amazon.com/Wired-Story-Writers-Sentence-ebook/dp/B005X0JTGI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1370824793&sr=1-1&keywords=wired+for+story

Like a science ap for writers

Like a science ap for writers

This book caused me to go right back to square one and revise my manuscript. For someone like me who came from a totally anal adherence to science, I had a Eureka moment when I realized there was a straightforward science behind storytelling. Our brains are hard-wired for stories – always have, always will – and this is a science ap for making a page-turner. Serious. READ THIS BOOK!

Motivation

Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

http://www.amazon.com/Think-Grow-Rich-Original-ebook/dp/B009P4MH26/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1370824865&sr=1-2&keywords=think+and+grow+rich

Timeless wisdom from the master of motivation

Timeless wisdom from the master of motivation

Aside from The Bible, Think And Grow Rich is the world’s bestselling motivational book and for good reason. Personally, I think it contains more truth than The Bible and I don’t care if I’m convicted of Blasphemy for saying it. It was written in 1937 and is a timeless blueprint of 17 principles of personal achievement. The original version contains male vernacular of the time which may piss some people off, but get over it and absorb what it says. Politically correct versions are available.

Writing, Marketing, and Publishing

The Creative Penn Website by Joanna Penn

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/

Gems from a gem

Gems from a gem

This is by far the best writer resource on the internet and I’m not just saying that because I consider Joanna a friend who’s helped me out enormously. In 4 years Joanna has built up a phenomenal wealth of online advice in her blogs, books, articles, and webinars. She also has about 150 free videos with the whos-who in the industry. She especially caters to idie self-publishers… because she is one herself. If you aren’t following Joanna, START!

So that’s my 5 cents.

What about you? What’s on your shelf that you gotta share?

I’m dying to hear your words.