It’s always good to do something that pushes you outside your comfort zone (or so they tell me). As a writer, it can be all too easy to stick with what you know, but in doing that you run the risk of writing the same story over and over again, and while some folks have made a decent career out of just that, it’s not for me.
I’ve spent a lot of time writing apocalyptic horror novels, and they’re all books which have some grounding in reality. Although I’m usually writing about extraordinary things (zombies, alien invasions, the death of the sun and the end of the world… you get the picture), I consciously populate my stories with ordinary people and settings, figuring readers will better be able to buy into the horror and adventure if they can relate and picture themselves in the books.
I love being a writer. I love the escape… the release you get when you’re conjuring up stories. My long-suffering wife often says I spend too much time in my own head, but I like that. I’m a thinker. I’m happy in my own company. I’m something of a control freak, I guess.
So back at the end of 2013, when James Thorn got in touch asking me to be a part of a collaborative novel project, I was torn. Knowing what I knew of James and his work at the time, it was clear the project wouldn’t be anything like the stuff I’d been writing previously. And the idea of collaborating? That was the last thing I wanted to do… Work with other people on a novel? Me? Seriously?
But I stopped myself from sending an automatic ‘thanks, but no thanks’ reply, and I’m really glad I did. I got to thinking about comfort zones again and how, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself otherwise, taking part in the project would be a positive thing.
And it was.
Within months I found myself reading up on Warlocks and mysticism in the Deep South… subjects I’d never had any interest in previously. I was given a prompt (nothing like the kind of scenarios or situations I usually wrote about) and a couple of characters (who were incredibly far removed from the kind of people I tend to populate my stories with), and I set about writing. I won’t lie and say it was easy, because it wasn’t. I found it hard – damn hard, in fact, and there were a couple of occasions where I almost threw in the towel, figuring the gap between The Black Fang Betrayal and my writing style and my audience was a chasm too wide to be able to bridge.
But then again, I realised, I’ve had moments like that with every book I’ve written. Every story seems ready to trip you up at one point or another, and it’s just a question of working through until you get to the other side (in fact, the entire manuscript of my biggest selling novel, HATER, ended up in the bin on more than one occasion while I was writing it).
So I guess working on Black Fang with James and the other authors has been a wake-up call for me. It’s been a reminder that when you’re doing a job as frequently solitary as writing, you need interaction and stimulation… you need to push boundaries and look at things from different perspectives. And I make no apologies if this post sounds a little clichéd, because it’s true. Collaborating on Black Fang was a cathartic experience, and I’m very proud of the results. Ten folks from ten wildly differing backgrounds, often thousands of miles apart, came together and created something unique that readers all around the world are starting to enjoy. Now that’s pretty cool, whichever way you look at it!
David Moody grew up on a diet of trashy horror and pulp science fiction. He worked as a bank manager before giving up the day job to write about the end of the world for a living. He has written a number of horror novels, including AUTUMN which has been downloaded more than half a million times since publication in 2001 and spawned a series of sequels and a movie starring Dexter Fletcher and David Carradine. Film rights to HATER were snapped up by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim) and Mark Johnson (Breaking Bad). Moody lives with his wife and a houseful of daughters and stepdaughters, which may explain his pre-occupation with Armageddon. Find out more about Moody at www.davidmoody.net