So the guy next to me on the plane is watching a horror film, one of these creepy, psychological things where guys keep dying in nasty ways—not slasher ways, but more personal, with visions of their loved ones in their minds. I don’t like it. This guy’s film is making it hard for me to write. . . about people dying in nasty ways.
Does this make me a hypocrite, that I am disturbed by the vivid, awful genius of others—but I seek to inflict my own darkness upon strangers? Because these books, this series, are not a pleasant ride, as Bilbo Baggins once put it, “not all ponyrides in May sunshine.” And yet. . . I so enjoy writing them.
I enjoy getting my character into terrible messes, not being sure how to get him out. I enjoy sending him on quests that sometimes end badly. I do not revel in these things upon the page. I try to keep my descriptions of death and injury to an appropriate level, making it clear what has happened and how it impacts the characters, without spattering gore all over the reader.
Still, it gives me pause, to think of the hardship I inflict, first upon my characters in the name of art, then, through them, to the readers who will follow. There is a market for mayhem, no doubt. My hope is to create a journey that is harrowing, yes, but ultimately rewarding. One where the reader genuinely worries about what will happen, to whom, how bad it will be. But also one where the reader is moved, is sometimes thrilled, and sometimes jubilant. Perhaps I tend too much to the dark side of the boundary.
Where the heart is darkest, there the soul confronts itself—and, hopefully, finds the brightest flashes of light.