Monday, 10 July 2017

Background Fears #1

I've recently been rereading a whole bunch of my stories with a view to selecting those that will work best together as a third collection. Such an activity is interesting, because it reveals connections, motifs, and repeated/recycled imagery & ideas in my work that I've never noticed before.

And one thing I spotted is... I obviously can't stop worrying about climate change.

I mean, I kind of knew it was there in the background of my fiction, because it's in the background of every thought I have, so it seems. That little niggle, that little voice that doesn't let you forget where we're heading unless we do something. But I've only written about the subject directly once (in an as yet unpublished story) and I unthinkingly assumed I'd only mentioned obliquely in a few of the others that have seen the light of day.

As a horror writer, I should have known we can't bury our fears as deeply as that. Reading back, I'm constantly hinting at it. Trying to give voice to those moments of anxiety whenever something reminds me of climate change (which given it's in the background of everything, could be almost anything).

An incomplete list of the more obvious places it occurs in my work:

Pretty obviously, it's part of a whole set of background worries abut the future for the narrator in 'Falling Over'.

It's part of the world building in 'He'. Same with 'Mirages In The Badlands', too, with its "dreadful heat".

'Across The Water' alludes to it, although of course the central character of that story probably doesn't believe in climate change. (He doesn't believe in a lot of things, but if horror teaches us anything it's that disbelief can't save us.)

Looking back, I see that 'The Place Where It Always Rains' is totally a metaphor for climate change - how could I not realise that? - and similar 'strange weather', for want of a better term, drives the action of both 'Snow' and the 'Into The Rain' section of The Quarantined City.

It's a constant, now I look for it. It's hiding in both the haunted house tale I'm currently writing and the first story I ever had published, 'Feed The Enemy'. It's quite obviously something which haunts me but which I cannot exorcise, not even through fiction.

It's in the background, of everything. But like all monsters in the background, it's not going to stay there forever.

It's coming for us.

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