Describe how your story, “Cards for His Spokes, Coins for His Fare,” took shape–from where did you draw inspiration for your contribution?
So, I met Doug Murano for the first time at the World Horror Convention last year in Atlanta. My novella collection The End in All Beginnings was a finalist for a Stoker Award that year, and I was madly trying to capitalize on this by introducing myself to anyone and everyone. Doug introduced himself and told me about the project, and I thought it fit right in my wheelhouse. I’d been noodling on a story anyway that seemed like it would fit perfectly, but I knew it was going to stray a little past the 5k mark.
What I learned from writing the novellas in The End in All Beginnings I applied to this story, and pretty much everything I’ve written since. And that’s to strip mine your childhood. And I mean that quite literally. Don’t be gentle, don’t be afraid, don’t shy away from things in your childhood that might be sad or disturbing or hard to look at even know from your adult perspective. Because those experiences—the good, the bad and the ugly—all can be tamed, all can be made to give your stories a verisimilitude that it’s very hard to capture otherwise.
So, I sat down when I got back from Atlanta and thought about some of the important things that defined my childhood. And key amongst those was a bike. A 10-speed bike and the heady freedom it offered a kid like me bck in the day. It opened up whole new worlds of exploration and personal liberty, and I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so absolutely free since those days four decades ago. In my formula for writing, I seek out these kinds of experiences—the ones that have a kind of commonality across readers, that evoke those emotions and memories—and then turn them, veer them off in a direction that is darker and more gut-wrenching. From the feedback I’ve received for my story in Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, “Cards for His Spokes, Coins for His Fare,” I think I accomplished that.
What does beautiful horror mean to you?
“Beautiful Horror” acknowledges that there is something spectacularly unexpected at the heart of everything dark. That there’s a core of breathtaking poignancy in every horrible, hurtful, painful thing we experience, whether that’s an important lesson or some kind of deep, spiritual growth. It underscores that, for the most part, experiences are neutral, neither good nor bad. It’s what we bring to these experiences—and more importantly, what we choose to take away from them—that colors them.