Saturday, January 28, 2006

Pacific Grove: Haven of Horror?

Hi, Whoever's Out There:

I've been intensely pursuing this blog thing for months, particularly in the context of being part of our Fiction Writers of the Monterey Peninsula (FWOMP) website. I think a link to this blog from that website will show up any day, if the Webmistress smiles down on us with favor. Maybe I'll have to sacrifice something or someone to make sure she does (just joking please Webmistress have mercy).

Anyway, this may be boring to you, but I need to tell you what FWOMP is before we proceed. It's a group of regional writers, of which I am a part, that have self-published two books, Monterey Shorts and Monterey Shorts 2: More on the Line. The volumes have ended up being fairly successful regionally, because we required the stories be set in and around the Monterey Peninsula. People like to read about this area and the books have ended up selling pretty regularly, so I think its good to link up to the FWOMP website.

Now unlike August Derleth, who kept his regional and weird writing mostly separate, I figured I'd go the Lovecraft and King route and try to weave the two together. And, no, I am not saying I am in their league, just that I was inspired by their example.

See, I live in this little town named Pacific Grove, and since I had absolutely no intention (at least for the present) to write anything but weird fiction, I decided to see what I could do in a local setting for the stories in the book. Pacific Grove is pretty quiet, really foggy, and has a whole side to it that the tourists never see. Plus Clark Ashton Smith lived here for awhile and his house, which is on our main street, Lighthouse Avenue, boasts one of his sculptures (which I incorporated into "Night Wounds Time," from Monterey Shorts 2, by the way).

I thought I'd try to exploit these kinds of uniquenesses, and I thought I had done a pretty good job but I have a feeling that I'm in the wrong market. Not that we get all that many reviews, but I get the feeling people really aren't picking up on my stories.

Of course, you might be saying to yourselves that the pieces themselves might be crappy. There's one sure way for you to find out, of course.

Anyway, the dilemma is this: the readers attracted to our books seem to be more enamored with historical fiction. While remaining commercial, I tried to give my stories several different layers and have a little self-referential fun and even play with the storytelling timeline a bit. The response to date, putting it mildly, has been a dull thud. The other stories are clearly getting the lion's share of the attention.

Now don't get me wrong, I've only written about seven or eight complete stories so it's not like I've been banging my head against the wall, but weird fiction is a hard sell even in a general market and in a niche market like this, maybe even a harder one.

That's one of the reasons I decided to start this blog, to give me an outlet which will allow me to vent (which I just did) and delve more deeply into a subject that I really love, weird fiction, especially its literary and older, more classic flavors. It needs to have more of a presence in our local scene here because the potential for regional weird fiction is astounding, IMHO. It needs an advocate. I guess I'm that advocate (noun) and this blog is one small way to advocate (verb).

In upcoming posts I'll be discussing, hopefully in a distinctly non-pretentious way, various aspects of the art of creating weird fiction, and making observations on some of the writers, trends and pitfalls I see regarding the subject. I hope to be supplying a lot of good links, too, for people who have the same interests as me.

Well, I've spent far too much time on this already, so I'm going to get out of here. See you all soon.


Anonymous The Web Mistress said...

The Web Mistress speaks:
Where is my sacrifice?

But, here's my comment on Chris's feeling about his stories and their interest. Chris has created a dark underside to Pacific Grove, which truly is there, I think, but is usually out of view, except when our own lives are threatened. He's given it a face. Has he been successful? I find that world lurking in the shadows when I go to Pacific Grove. Places that once were neutral now have a depth of possibility.
When an artist wants to create real depth in a painting, she begins with a layer of black, upon which she layers the lighter colors which will appear to be the true picture. But without the dark shadows, there is no appearance of reality.
Chris transforms an all-too-white Pacific Grove into a town with copious possibilities.

9:58 PM  
Blogger "The Fanatic" said...

Nice opener, Chris. You may be right, too, about how readers perceive your writing locally; is it lost on them? I hope not. I think part of the issue might be that those who enjoy weird fiction might steer away from Monterey Shorts 1 and 2 because they believe it'll contain nothing except history on the area (which is only partially true). So I don't think that anything in the two anthologies is "crappy," least of all yours! It's just those that would be your readership haven't found it ...yet. Let's hope this blog does some good for you. I'm sure it will!

3:28 PM  
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