So while I was getting my ankle strapped up a couple of hours later I had time to ponder this turn of events. The review in question was short, but focused on the violence in Panic. I honestly thought I hadn't made it violent enough, given the nature of the events. Still, fair enough, severed heads and faces getting eaten. That is pretty violent. Maybe a lifetime of immersing myself in horror has left me immune.
But then it got me thinking about self-publishing, and the opportunities it provides, for horror particularly. I remember reading somewhere about Jack Ketchum's magnificent novel Off Season, and how editors had repeatedly sent back his drafts, instructing him that the damn thing was too violent and it simply had to be cut. It struck me as odd, I mean, it is about crazy cannibals. Violence, surely, is the bare minimum you'd expect.
A self-publisher doesn't have to go through that. They can explore the very worst of humanity, and the only red pen crossing out sentences will be their own. Some restraint is required. And yet Psychosis is all about escalation. I'm determined to keep focus on the characters, but the world around them is utter chaos.
Panic showed us Project Wildfire unleashed on a small town, with a limited number of potential victims, a small number of infected. Had it been set in London...
I'm about halfway through the first draft of Psychosis, and already I feel it is darker than Panic, more extreme. Indeed, sometimes I write a paragraph and sit back with a sigh, wondering just what the hell is wrong with me. I mean, who carries this stuff around in their heads? Maybe I should tone it down, aim for that PG13 rating.
It's a mystery alright, but then I remember that I am a reader too, and that Ketchum's editors were wrong.
And I fucking LOVED Off Season.