So the subject for this week is What's the scariest thing you've ever written.
Well, first and foremost, I'm a horror writer. It's what I do. I drink coffee and I write scary things. Just off the top of my head there's the BLOOD RED series of vampire novels, CHERRY HILL (Haunted asylum), HARVEST MOON (witches and curses), The SERENITY FALLS trilogy (small towns, curses and worse) THE HAUNTED FOREST TOUR with Jeff Strand (Jurassic Park with monsters), The GRIFFIN & PRICE BOOKS (Small town crime and monsters), any number of short stories that could qualify, BOOMTOWN (Weird Western Horror), UNDER THE OVERTREE (Puberty and monsters), the CHRIS CORIN Chronicles (Lovecraftian horror) and DEEPER (sea monsters and ghosts). There's a plethora of books. and tat doesn't include my work for Roleplaying Games or comic books.
So. yeah kind of my forte.
I'm going to set all of those aside, however, because the one that seems to disturb people the most is my novel SMILE NO MORE, and the main character of the tale, Rufo the Clown.
Now, Rufo has been around for a while. he first showed up in Grease painted Smile, a tale written specifically for a friend of mine who invited me to a Halloween party where the price of admission was a scary story. Said friend confessed to me at one point that he suffers from coulrophobia, a deep and abiding fear of clowns. I mean, how could I not write a story just for him?
I have to say, I still like the opening paragraph of the tale: I remember the long lashes, the startling blue eyes, the thick, dark hair, and the red, red lips drawn back in a wide, friendly smile. but mostly I remember the bloodstained teeth.
He liked it so much that he bought it for his online magazine the Stillwaters Journal. The tale is a first-person story of a man who has multiple encounters with Rufo the clown throughout his life. It doesn't end well for him.
after that, when I needed another clown in the SERENITY FALLS trilogy, I used Rufo again, with an entire carnival of dead clowns and hauntings. And te response? Well, several people suggested I employ Rufo in his own tale. So I did.
Know what's funny to me? There are a lot of people with a fear of clowns. I mean, I had NO IDEA. I have never been afraid of clowns. Not even for a few seconds.
So I had to come up with enough of a tale to make a full novel about an undead, insane clown with a penchant for extreme violence who happens to have a very twisted sense of morality and justice.
The back cover text: There's nothing quite like a circus. The Carnivale de Fantastique is an acrobatic and musical phenomenon, a show based on the legends of a circus that vanished mysteriously half a century ago. Every season the numbers grow, the merchandising expands and the ticket sales explode. This year things are a little different. This year the star of the show was murdered and shipped to the next city in a cardboard box. This year the acts are running into all sorts of troubles, and even the police and the F.B.I. are trying to figure out what's causing all the troubles. Once upon a time there was a kid named Cecil. He ran away, joined the circus and then got murdered for his troubles. Fifty years later, he clawed his way out of Hell, found the people who killed him and his circus and had his bloody revenge. Since then he's been trying to find something to do with his time and now he's heard about the Carnivale de Fantastique, a show based on the disappearance of the circus he traveled with. Of course it's not a traditional circus. This one has acrobats and dancers and actors and a story. It's only missing one thing and it's just not funny. When in doubt, send in the clowns.
I tend to think it's an interesting take. I also tend to think it's one of the most violent stories I've ever told, and I am pleased with the number of people who apparently developed a serious problem with clowns while reading the story and simultaneously I am delighted by the number of people who found themselves rooting for the clown and were then disgusted with themselves.
Listen, anytime as an artist, you manage to elicit an emotion of any kind, you've done your job. I'm good with fear, but the guilty reaction? That's an extra tip of the hat.
Rufe has also been popular enough to have his own fan following, which is about as flattering as it gets.