When Anna Lopez’s zombie attack video goes viral, no one could believe that the high school cheerleader had taken a bite out of the undead monster – and liked it! Now nothing will ever be the same for supernatural beings…because humans have discovered they taste freakin’ DELICIOUS!
And when a zombie boy gets in the crosshairs of a gang of hungry-human hunters, Julie, a young vampire loner, jumps in for the rescue. But now Julie’s got more than she bargained because taking care of a rambunctious undead creature who only knows one word (“brains”) is NOT easy. And when Julie and her zombie pal stumble upon on a crazed soccer mom, they find themselves on the run from a trigger-happy family who want nothing more than to grill them up for a neighborhood barbecue bash!
Publishing A Horror Story
by Jagjiwan Sohal
Although I’ve had a few short stories published in popular online magazines and well-received anthologies, as well as my novel Smorgasbord (on sale now!), I actually don’t consider myself much of a horror guy. Sure, my stories have elements of monsters and the macabre but for the most part, I actually don’t find my stuff all too scary. And growing up, I wasn’t too big into horror, either. I enjoyed the odd Stephen King novel and loved the “It” TV mini-series but for the most part, I just wasn’t drawn to horror like a lot of the genre’s greats seemed to be in their formative years.
My childhood was filled with Transformers, Ninja Turtles and Batman but I did find vampires fascinating. And terrifying. One of my most poignant childhood memories is being in the first grade and finding a book about vampires in my elementary school library. But this wasn’t a cartoon-laden book showing how fun vampires can be. Nope, this was a book filled with gothic comic art, which, in hindsight, should have NEVER been in that library. I remember going through that book (which I would personally KILL to get a copy of now) and being scared out of my mind! For months afterward, my six-year-old self would sleep with the covers up to my neck so as not to risk a vampire attack. Even now I wince when I see a vampire burying his fangs in a human’s neck on TV or in a movie.
Despite my fright of vampires as a kid, I grew to love them as I got older. But vampires have been so neutered in the past ten years or so in pop culture that it’s hard to find them scary anymore. So when I started writing, I never thought I’d do anything with vampires. I was more entrenched in writing comedy or kids animated projects that vampires and more specifically, the horror genre, wasn’t anything that I ever planned to dabble in.
Then I got the idea for Wandering Daniel.
For months I had this concept in my head about a vampire wandering around in a nuclear wasteland and his ensuing loneliness as the planet’s only survivor. The story wasn’t deep enough to format into a screenplay. I couldn’t pad it out to fill a TV series concept. And I had never written a novel or even a short story at that point. Yet Daniel, the titular vampire, kept sticking with me.
So I sat down one evening and hammered out the story. Then I did some revision, researched some small publishers and sent the piece out. And within a day or so, I received an acceptance from The Horror Zine’s Jeani Rector, a really cool and supportive editor who loved my short story.
Talk about beginner’s luck!
From there, I’ve taken horror a lot more seriously. Wandering Daniel got some nice kudos and that gave me the courage to tackle my novel Smorgasbord. I also kept on writing horror, although the stories after Wandering Daniel were pretty awful. But I still tried. Then Running Water was published (another vampire story) and Auction, was published late last year. Not too shabby for a guy not well-versed in the horror genre!
But I still don’t think I’m that great of a horror writer yet. I’m still learning how to write atmospheric settings, chilling suspense and other cool scary stuff. And Smorgasbord is more of a comedy than a horror despite the inclusion of vampires, werewolves and demons. As a result, one of my big writing goals is to write a full-on horror novel, hopefully sooner rather than later. I’ve played around with some ideas but haven’t been able to find the story that I want to explore.
So what’s my best advice for aspiring horror writers? Well, I think a good way to start is to think out of the box. For example, there’s TONS of vampire/werewolf/zombie fiction out there. How can your vamp/wolf/zom story stand out? Running Water was about a European vampire in India who was dealing with the aftermath of a typhoon in the neighborhood he was living. I don’t think ANYONE has ever done a vampire in India story and that was part of my impetus for writing it. Horror isn’t just about scaring people…it can also be about presenting scary material in an innovative way!
Another piece of advice is that if you have a horror idea but are unsure of it, just do it. Who cares if you get rejected by editors? Just go for it! There’s so many small publishers, online e-zines or whatever that are looking for good horror fiction that you may get someone interested enough in your material to take a chance on it even if you’re a novice. And from there, your confidence can grow and you can tackle bigger and bolder projects.
Let’s face it…writing horror is NOT easy. It’s one of the few literary genres where the reader almost challenges the author. It’s like the audience says, “You wanna scare me? Give it your best shot!” So try to “bring it” whenever you can by being inventive and hopefully, you’ll keep more than a few of your readers wide-eyed and awake late into the night!
Born and raised near Toronto, Canada, Jagjiwan Sohal works in the Canadian film and TV industry as an up-and-coming screenwriter and producer. His short stories have been published by The Horror Zine, Scribal Tales and Hello Horror. Smorgasbord is his first novel.
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