Ginger Nuts of Horror
Gerard Houarner is a native New Yorker, born to Breton immigrants, a product of the New York City school system, the City College of New York, and Columbia University. As a mental health professional, he's worked for over thirty years in psychiatric and substance abuse clinics and facilities throughout the city.
As a writer, he's had over 280 short stories, as well as novels and collections published in the past 40 years, and edited or co-edited anthologies and served as Fiction Editor for Space and Time magazine.
He continues to write, at night, mostly about the dark.
We asked Gerard Houarner to give us a bit of back story on his tale, Touch, in Eulogies II and this is how he responded:
Touch. The good kind. A connection. A comforting sensation. The expression in flesh of an emotional and even spiritual connection.
Hmmm. Wonder what that would feel like with the dead.
Is there really such a thing as a good touch between the living and the dead?
Sad to say, writers are a strange sort of creature. Especially the dark ones. Expressing things better left unsaid, unthought of, really. Amplifying every day occurrences like brushing up unexpectedly against a curtain or a shirt on a hangar. Feeling something...unexpected, and instead of laughing off the momentary frisson, trying to make something of it. Blowing it all out of proportion.
Ghosts are often bad company. As is loneliness. So the unexpected touch asks a question, and, being strange, writers of the dark sort come up with all sorts answers. Anthologies are built on this kind of ability.
Touch was my reaction to the unexpected.
Having been "touched" by inspiration, I discovered I also had an agenda. I've written all kinds of stories. A good portion of them seem to have fallen into the "extreme" end of horror. Not sure, some folks think they're hard, others complicated, and still others don't think they go far enough.
A reputation, no matter how small (and trust me, mine is small), can be annoying. Especially if it's small, and thus doesn't sell very many books.
So, as soon as I had this ghost sensation idea, I immediately thought of avoiding anything that might remotely be considered extreme. No gore. No violence (well, nothing really awful). No rough characters.
Seems like I do that kind of thing all the time. of course, then i get called subtle.
There's no winning in the writing game. There's just doing the best you can.
I also wanted to concentrate on sensual details. Get into the mood, the atmosphere (which of course is what ghost story is supposed to do). take a look at the relationship between the living and the dead through the lens of dead relationships, the need to connect, the need for intimacy. How a bond between life and death might be built on the loneliness inherent in both states. And, of course, I wanted to find out what the cost of such fooling around might be -- cost is the horror, baby, even if its only the reader who sees what that cost might be.
Well, I tried. Chris (Chris Jones – Editor) asked some questions, and I dug deeper. We talked, I went in all kinds of directions. I had fun. Felt like I was riffing on a little theme, changing the key here, the rhythm there, opening it up one place and shutting it down in another.
Somehow, we reached an agreement on a "take." Hopefully I answered enough questions, left enough mystery. I don't think I was gross.
I do hope I was a little subtle.
Bottom line, my little piece stands with honored company, and that's a hell of a thing. I enjoyed exploring the direction the piece took me in, and that's always cool for a writer. Hope folks dig wherever the story takes them. Thanks for having me around.
Stay Tuned for a guest post from Keith Minnion and Rose Blackthorn
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