Literary horror is dramatic. It makes for good copy. I often watch the close ups on shows like CSI and think; “Oo, that’s good make-up, almost like the real thing.” or “No, eyes should be dilated at this point.” For extra material I watch programmes like the video below, attending lectures when and where possible, and read pathology texts, as well as relying on my own observations taken from real life. The section on ice weapons came as a surprise. I too thought that was simply an urban legend.
My only problem with writing such sequences is this; sometimes the nightmares pay me a return visit. Not that often, but commonly enough to occasionally rob me of sleep and good temper. I’ve been like this for the past week or so while writing the refugee camp sequence for ‘A falling of Angels’. My over active imagination has overflowed into night time unpleasantness with serious 3D realism and smellyvision. You’d think that the act of writing everything down would purge the anxieties, lay the ghosts. In practice this is not entirely true. It just triggers other responses. Almost as if my glib subconscious is cheerfully waving from the background of psyche, saying; “You missed a bit!” and helpfully pointing out the more unpleasant gaps I’d rather have avoided.
Angie’s vaguely annoyed at me because I’ve been waking up and performing my usual trick of going from sound asleep to fully alert in the early hours. As the dream hits crisis, I’m out of bed and on my feet, looking for trouble in half a second. It’s an old reflex, and one that hasn’t dulled with age. Not entirely sure where it comes from. That said I can sleep through most things. Storms, roadworks outside the house, marching bands, noisy teenagers. Yet if someone tries to be stealthy anywhere close to, I’m instantly up and alert. Whether I want to be or not. All on the back of a bad dream.