I’ve been rereading two of my very favorite books: Coraline by Neil Gaiman and We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson. Why? I could bore you with woeful tales of needing a book to obsess me and not finding it lately (suggestions welcomed!) but really, it all comes down to magic. Both of these novels, though extremely different, are swimming in magic—so much so that I can read them dozens of times and still remain captivated by the energies swirling around and in them.
It’s not enough for noir to be dark. It’s got to be bad-ass. Its words, its decaying and horrible beauty have got to hit you like a spiked heel dragged from your guts to your gullet. It’s got to twist the hot knife of passion in that soft space right below your belly while pumping bullets into your heart.
It’s got to make you bleed.
Akashic Books’ latest in their noir series, Staten Island Noir features some dusky and drop-dead gorgeous gems (emphasis on the dead) that do just that.
There is no other way to say this: writing emotionally devastating scenes is freaking hard. Especially when you’re dealing with the horror of post-apocalyptic worlds, the havoc wreaked by monsters, or even the evil-doing of the amoral but very human antagonist. You’ve got to be willing to wade through the flesh and the blood, to cut right down to the bone, in order to catalyze our deepest fears and emotions.
Bonnie Tyler likes to sing about needing a hero, but me, I need a big bad, a notorious nasty, a femme fatale. Someone who treads on the dark side and isn’t ashamed to admit it.
I’ve never been one to root for the good guy; I’d rather cheer someone who’s had to wrestle some serious demons (and has perhaps become one). This is why I love noir: there’s always someone sinister (or at the very least, vengeful) afoot.
Slaying Genre: A Monthly Column on Horror, Noir, Fantasy & the Other Red-Headed Step-Children of the Literary World
Bodice Slashers: The Intersections of Horror and Romance. A good title, no? It’s what I’m calling my imaginary anthology of essays (forthcoming from An Excellent Press). Edited by me, Carol Clover, and the ladies from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (because, hey, this is my fantasy), this antho will discuss what titillates and terrifies us, and how together, they make for a whole new genre of amazing tales that will literally shock readers into admitting to and reveling in the freaky, the romantic, and the dark.