Has the Well Dried Up?
By: Vickie Hollar
I am an avid fan of the horror genre, but not the rip them apart, blood gushing, head lopping, tearing body parts apart horrors. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul, are just a few of the authors I admire and read any chance I get. Although, I have been known to deviate to more mundane works such as the Harry Potter and Stephanie Plum series, both are quite original. There are hundreds of talented writer out in the world, but quite often I wonder what happened to the originality, the spark, the creativeness.
Vampires, werewolves, zombies, magicians, space wars, Freddy Krueger vs Jason... When an idea hits the market and the eagerly awaiting public greats it with open arms, a gluttony is soon to follow. Vampires have been a thriving industry since the first vampire novel, “Der Vampir,” in 1748 and motion pictures capitalized upon a budding cult in the early 1900s with such films as “The Vampire” and “Nosferatu,” and resurrected again in 1933 with Bela Lugosi starting in “Dracula.” Vampires have been on the earth, in space and on exotic planets. The vampire has been horrific, sexy, male, female, adults and children. They have been cast as serious, comedic and even portrayed as dogs. Hundreds of films and books have been released since 1909 and I have no doubts that hundreds more will be written and made into movies.
The werewolf's literary origins first appeared in ~61AD and was capitalized upon by the movie industry in 1913. Werewolves have been cultivated in the music industry by musicians such as Desturbed's “The Animal,” and my personal favorite Warren Zevon's “Werewolves in London,” just to name two. Werewolves have also been the inspiration for poets. Even long standing British television series “Doctor Who” enlisted the werewolf. If any industry could admit to a gluttony, it would surely be the werewolf. The werewolf has been portrayed as a medieval aid to the knights, a satanic beast, and even as a fun-loving fur ball in “Teen Wolf.” In space, on land, in cities, in westerns, on moors and even as magical shape-shifters, the werewolf is a mega-billion dollar industry that shows no signs of slowing down.
For something a little more modern, the flesh-eating, cloudy-eyed, stiff-walking zombie took its roots from the 1818 novel “Frankenstein.” H.P. Lovecraft wrote several novelettes which explored the facets of the undead. Where the name 'zombie' originated is unclear, but the first large scale capitalized zombies came from George A. Romero's “Night of the Living Dead.” Since then, and more so in the late 20th century and early 21st century, the zombie has been enlisted in about every media.
And let’s not forget about the mass flood of new literature brewing from J.K. Rowling's “Harry Potter” series. Do we as authors really have any original ideas left, or has the well dried up?
Hundreds upon thousands of new novels appear on shelves in the local book stores, and online as a blossoming industry of the ebook; but, of all those new novels or short stories, how many are truly original and not just a byproduct of someone else's idea? Do we as authors have the ability to formulate a new spark of light, a story unlike anything we have previously read? Stephen King said something reminiscent too – it’s time to stop when repeating yourself comes into play. I believe this is also true when it comes to repeating others’ works. Slightly different plot, slightly different characters, same overall idea or concept.
How do authors break the spiraling cycle? Stop watching television. Blow up the tube and start getting creative. Stop capitalizing on authors in the genres you like. Write about an interest not an obsession, unless it is in that obsession which sparks an idea. Creativity is sparked by the imagination not sparked by reinventing another's idea. Turn to yourself to find the originality.
Are you an obsessive compulsive? Why not turn an idiosyncrasy into a character possessed to destroy lives, create hope, and become a hero. Yes, the backsplash might be reminiscent to another, but when was the last time you read about a character being an OCD paranoid super hero? Look to one's past. Every writer has a past and a personality. [That] is where the originality comes from. Every single person is different. Each has lived a different life and it is those difference that can spark genuine creativity. Look to the parents or grandparent. Do some research and find out about their past: farmers, hobos, murderers, bankers. Listen to the stories of their past. The haunted field where strange occurrences happen. The love story that came about from a hobo and a preacher’s daughter. Every good story has a bit of truth woven into it. Find that thread and weave a new tale. It is the moments of the past where inspiration comes. Truth begets fiction: fiction enhances truth.
As a young girl, Vickie had a strong interest in the mystery/horror and criminal genres. She watched with fascination Rod Serling's horror and macabre television series "Night Gallery" and "The Twilight Zone," and Jeff Rice's series "Kolchak: The Night Stalker." Other early television influences were "Kojak," "Cannon," "Get Smart," "The Avengers," and NBC's Mystery Movie night featuring "McCloud," "Columbo," and "McMillan and Wife." She acquired a taste for movie horror with Stephen King's 1979 television mini-series "Salem's Lot" and his 1980 film "The Shining," as well as Tom Holland's 1985 film "Fright Night."
In school, Vickie's love of horror stories led her back to Stephen King, who quickly became her favorite author. Between King novels, she picked up other horror genera writers such as Dean Koontz, John Saul, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe (who could deny the dark fearfulness of "The Pit and the Pendulum" or the descent into madness in "The Raven?"), and Peter Straub.
Later in life, Vickie returned to education and attended CSU Chico where she met Dr. Jaime O'Neill, a professor of English. His passion for writing and command of the written language inspired her to sharpen her own writing skills. After drowning in a sea of red ink for many months, Vickie finally honed her craft and acquired a distinct voice in narrative fictional writing. Dr. O'Neill is still a part of her life, and he continues to inspire her to go beyond her best.
Vickie's Web Page: Vickie Hollar
Vickie on Twitter: @vhollar
Vickie's Latest Book: Dream Keeper Fatum Meum (on Amazon)