So today's the day. KISS OF MOONLIGHT is released from Ellora's Cave, just in time for Halloween!
I love werewolves. They were my first paranormal love, going all the way back to Lon Chaney Jr.'s "The Wolf Man," which I remember watching with my mom when I was five or six, huddled on the couch in front of the TV. The visuals in that black-and-white classic have stuck with me through the years, just as they have from "Night of the Living Dead," "Nosferatu" and "Cat People."
It's those shades of gray, the light and dark and, most importantly, the shadows that call to me in those films. I want to know what's hiding in the shadows. I want to see the monster. And yet, I don't.
Many early horror films are adept at playing with those shadows until the very last minute when the creature is revealed. Of course, the actual monster is never as scary as the unknown but by the time you actually confront the monster, you're too terrified to care. I think only Ridley Scott's original "Alien" and Owen Peli's "Paranormal Activity" get that formula right.
While I love films, I am a voracious reader. As a kid, I sank my teeth into the classics: Lovecraft
, J. Sheridan LeFanu, Seabury Quinn
, MR James
, Manley Wade Wellman
and Robert Bloch
. On my desk right now are two of the anthologies I've had since I was a teen, "Tales of the Undead" and "Nameless Places." If you ever see them at a library sale or used book store, pick them up. And prepare to be amazed.
When my mom gave me Stephen King's CARRIE when I was 10 or so, I discovered a whole new world of contemporary horror. I'm sure it helped that I identified so much with Carrie at that time in my life but that only solidified my adoration of Uncle Stevie. He understood the freaks and the outcasts, and the bullies always got what they deserved.
Then I read THE STAND and understood how a love story could be an integral part of horror. Because if you have nothing at stake but your life, the reader isn't going to care if you live or die. But if you have that one true love waiting for you, the reader is invested.
Fast forward a few years to the moment I discovered Maggie Shayne's "Wing in the Night" orginal trilogy from Silhouette Shadows, first published in 1993. And I realized, yes, you can write a romance featuring the monster. And make it work. Shayne did, amazingly well. And continues to do so.
I believe Shayne played a role in paving the way for JR Ward (who I adore), Mary Janice Davidson and yes, Laurel K. Hamilton (the Anita Blake series started in 1995). Shayne made it sexy, cool and, above all, believeable. She made you love the monster.
That's all I can hope to do, as well.