Had a conversation about this a few weeks back and I put off this post because I wanted to think about it. That said, I don’t think I’ve thought about it much, but now its in my mind again because there is a particular author I want to go back to reading.
You may have heard me mention him before… Shaun Hutson.
This man… this man weaned me off the likes of Christopher Pike, Mills And Boon and Sweet Valley High (GAAAAAAAH!). He was the man who gave me my first real insight into what a a gunshot wound might look like (from a writer’s perspective) and managed to make it cool!
Now… if you’re faint hearted, or freaked out by blood, or bugs, or foul language, for gods sake do NOT read his books. You’re missing out, but don’t. For real.
If… like me… you like your action high octane, gritty and dirty, then this man is the one you want to be reading. More than that, if you want an author who doesn’t shy away from taboos (kids killing cats, elderly folk torturing teenagers) then again, Shaun is your man.
I was thinking about him 1) because I think its time I reminded myself of how awesome he is by going through the massive collection of his books that I have at the front of my double stacked shelves and 2) because I was going to read an excerpt of his work at the Phoenix Writers’ Away Day a few weeks back. I didn’t because I raced out of the house in a rush and forgot the book. D’oh! Though now I think about it, I don’t think anything written by Shaun would have had much place there – except maybe with the lads *snerk*
But that led into the conversation about horror films and what’s scary, what’s not and why something is scary. And with Shaun’s books… they aren’t scary (at least for me) but they are a bit of a head fuck. Some of them are anyway. And they make you squirm. That is far more powerful than the cheap tricks Hollywood uses like suspenseful music and crashes and bangs. Its the thought that makes you uncomfortable and sends a ripple of cold down your spine that I like so much. I guess because I can put the book away afterwards and go ‘aaaaaaaaaah, thank fuck that ain’t real.’
Let me give you a piece of his writing, to show what I’m talking about:
Both of them were naked.
Both hung from the filthy wall of the supermarket, suspended by the nails which had been driven through their hands and wrists.
A tramp and a rent boy. The dregs of society.
The five figures which stood gazing at the corpses were silent, standing in a kind of mock vigil over the bodies. Bodies which now had not one single trace of skin on their faces and necks. The flesh had been expertly removed with knives, cut away with a care and precision which a surgeon would have been proud of. The muscles of Adam Giles’ face glistened in the half-light, congealed blood already filling some of the gaps between tendons and gristle. His eyes were open, still wide with terror as if the last thing he’d seen had been indelibly printed on that blind orb for eternity.
The leading figure, a tall man dressed in a dark suit now faded and dirt encrusted, stepped forward and inspected the bodies more closely, prodding first at the skinless mess which had once been Adam’s face then at the flayed visage of Danny Weller.
The young tramp’s skin sat well on the features of the tall figure. He had smoothed it over his own putrescent face, covering the holes and the sores, hiding the cratered areas where the maggots had bred. The skin was loose around his ears and eyes but portions taken from other parts of the bodies could be used to foster the illusion of normality. And, like his companions, he could always wrap his face with a scarf.
Until the time was right.
Time seemed to have no meaning any more.
For what was time to a dead man? To him or his four companions? He smiled thinly, his own lips moving beneath the mask of living flesh that was already beginning to mould itself to the rotting musculature beneath.
They had time. Time to complete their task.
And that time was coming closer.
He looked at the two bodies hanging from the Wall and nodded.
Excerpt from Shuan Hutson’s ‘Assassin’; reproduced without permission.
Do you see what I mean? Doesn’t that just make your skin crawl?! Hell, and that’s just a little bit before the poor hooker trying to give a man a blow job who passes out when she realises that his ejaculate is full of maggots. Eeew, right?
Now I don’t want to write like this. I mean I would love to be able to, but that level of ick might completely alienate my mother and besides it doesn’t quite fit with what I write. But I will admit… this chap and his selection of fabulous books are what gave me inspiration for many posts on the Ice Wolf Tavern when Diavian had to do something particularly gross or when Michael (inspired by Shaun’s Sean Doyle character by the way) had to be particularly foul mouthed or moody.
I’m just saying… I don’t write gore like this guy does, but if you’ve read his work, you’ll easily see that some of my writing is influenced by this chap. And I’m THRILLED about it.