You and Me Against the World

I am very tired this morning. I did bar testing last night, and today feel like one of those extras on The Walking Dead about to get macheted by Michonne. I am so tired at this point getting macheted sounds almost preferable.

As my month of writing about horror continues, I had intended to talk about Stephen King today, but since I am so tired and incapable of much coherent thought, I decided to talk about the inspiration behind my novel Sara.

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I’ve written about this book before, but while Lake Thirteen is a ghost story, and there are some serious paranormal elements to Sorceress, Sara is the only novel I’ve written that could be described as horror. It’s also my least successful novel; and by that, I mean the lowest selling. Trying to figure out why a book didn’t sell is literally just asking for it; the downward spiral into depression and full-on crazy. But Sara was different than anything else I’ve written; as I said before when talking about it, it was my “get even with everyone I went to high school who was mean to me” book; and when I first wrote it, that was really my mindset, sadly. Fortunately, I am more evolved now than I was when I wrote the first draft of Sara back in 1991, and when I was revising and rewriting for publication, I had to change/remove a lot of that; I was clearly in a very bitter place when I was originally writing Sara…

Stephen King’s Christine is one of my favorites of his; I know people make fun of it–the haunted car and all that–but I loved that book. It was high school as I remembered it; I knew kids like the kids in the book, and the book affected me deeply. I still think of Christine (as well as Carrie) as two of the best young adult horror novels ever written and published; I may talk about Christine more later in the month.

When I first decided to write Sara, it wasn’t intended to be written as a young adult novel any more than Christine was written as one. Sara was my first attempt to write a horror novel for adults; as I have said before, in the 1980’s I decided I wanted to write horror. I wrote a lot of short stories from about 1985 through the end of the decade (through 1992, most likely) that I never did anything with; but it was around 1991 that I decided to take the plunge and write the novel. Sara was originally inspired, not only by Christine, but by getting the invitation to my ten year high school reunion three years earlier. (That invitation also inspired my short story “Promises in Every Star.”) I thought an invitation to a high school reunion would be a great way to start a book, and when I started writing Sara, I decided to frame the story the same way King did with Christine; with the point-of-view character looking back at the things that went on during his senior year, then having them play out, and then end back in the present day with him remembering…and being afraid.

I was about five chapters into the book, and struggling (it really amazes me to remember how little I knew about writing a novel and so forth back then; particularly given what a spectacular mess I was making of my life. It’s a wonder I wrote anything at all, frankly.) when I discovered Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine. In my stupid, immature, addled “don’t know what I am talking about” way, I decided that it would be easier to write Sara.

I know, I was younger, much more foolish, and incredibly arrogant in my foolishness.

But on the other hand, I’m not sorry I did make that foolishly arrogant assumption; I wouldn’t be writing young adult fiction now had I not had that “epiphany.”

When I was rewriting Sara for publication, I dropped the framing device and re-set Sara in the present day; in the original, Glen wasn’t gay because that would have never worked in a book being set in 1978; which was, really, the major hole in the story. Had I indeed made him gay, bullied for being gay, in denial for being gay–AND had it set in 1978, it would have worked so much better, I think.

I do think Sara is a good book, though.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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