I was introduced to M.R. Gott on goodreads (M.R. Gott's profile on goodreads). I have read two of his short stories and they scared the heck out of me. I have some more to read and I just cannot wait because he is brilliant. I have one book that he gave me a sneak peak of but I had to keep it under wraps until now. I will now be reading it and doing a review on it. In case you are wondering about his previous stories that I have read and want to see my reviews, both of them should be here on my blog and also on my profile on goodreads (Mollydee's profile). M.R. and I have spoken a few times back and forth and I am glad to call him a friend. He was nice enough to stop here to guest blog. I love it and I hope you will to. I would like to welcome M.R. Gott.
Archetype or Stereotype
I am a horror author and genre fiend. I think of it as Cult Fiction. Sci Fi, fantasy, superhero, noir, horror (obviously) if it’s a niche I am probably a fan. As a genre fan you relish very specific ideas and setups such as a group stranded somewhere with an ominous force lurking about. Within these set ups are the character types that always get your attention. Maybe it’s the charming smuggler, Han or Mal perhaps? Or it could be the lone detective in a dark city, Batman or Philip Marlowe? So how do we keep these stories freshman new and unique? By using the archetype, but not allowing it to become a stereotype. With characters we need them to be well drawn and not simply a composite of past iterations of the archetype.
I’m going to use my character William Chandler from Where the Dead Fear to Tread for this. He is clearly a combination of a few archetypes. First and foremost he owes a debt to Frank Castle, Marvel’s the Punisher and Charles Bronson’s Paul Kersey of Death Wish. My protagonist is a vigilante killer, but unlike the examples listed I want it to be hard for my readers to condone his actions. Wiping out thinly drawn goons with any level of violence is going to get a ho hum reaction from an audience who has been seeing this for years.
Most criminals are younger, check the age averages of gang members. Usually people enter a life of crime young and it doesn’t take long before they are dead or in jail. So now my vigilante killer is wiping out younger people. It’s harder now for a reader to justify my protagonist’s actions. What is the crime these young people are guilty of committing? Where the Dead Fear to Tread revolves around child trafficking. Now right and wrong are less clear cut, and from this I hope to elicit a sense of tension and unease, this is a horror novel after all.
But I’m not done. William Chandler was once a state prosecutor focusing on crimes against minors. The actions he takes in my book are killing him, but he just can’t stop and doesn’t know how else to stop the trafficking of children. With every life he takes a little more of him dies, until he is sure even those who once cared for him would be unable to recognize the man he has become. I want my characters to have internal conflict that matches the intensity of my action set pieces.
Now that we’ve taken a look at a character archetype, how about we examine a story archetype? Most horror stories, regardless on their niche are about isolation. Whether it is a physical isolation such as old cabin in the woods, or mental isolation because no one believes the protagonist’s warnings of impending evil. In either case the character is set alone against an overwhelming evil. For my novel Where the Dead Fear to Tread the isolation is mental. William Chandler is set apart from society due to his criminal status, and Officer Broadband is alone in her obsessive search for him. Even though these characters traverse a sprawling urban landscape they still feel trapped and alone.
As long as these characters and setups continue to resonate with audiences these stories will continue to be told, finding new ground with new voices and interpretation.
But then again I could be wrong; I’m just a guy who writes scary stories.
M.R. Gott’s work has been called, “bleak” and “relentless,” as well as “frantic, horrific, brutal, and without doubt the darkest thing I have read in years - maybe in my life.” And that was pretty much what he was going for. M.R. Gott is the author of Where the Dead fear to Tread and the sequel Where the Damned Fear Redemption. Aside from his contributions to Ravenous Monster M.R. has also published with Short Scary Stories. While crafting these upbeat, life affirming tales, M.R. enjoys dark coffee, dark beer, red wine, and fading light. For more on M.R. Gott and his works please visit Wherethedeadfeartotread.Blogspot.com.
Thank you M.R. for sharing your thoughts with us. I am going to do a separate post to announce the giveaways that you so generously offered. Yes dear readers. M.R. was nice enough to do two giveaways for my readers so watch out for that post. Please support M.R. Gott. He is an excellent writer. Especially if you love horror. And feel free to comment below on our guest blogger. Maybe you have read something by him or just really liked his blog. Either way, please leave a comment. And be on the lookout for an interview from M.R. Gott in the near future.