February 21, 2013

Elliot Arthur Cross on The Keysmith

Guest post by Elliot Arthur Cross

As a child of the 1980's, I find a certain nostalgic inspiration from '80s cinema. The Keysmith is my ode to the slasher movies of the period. There's a fun atmosphere found in those cheesy horror movies. Although set in modern times with gay characters, there are certain beats and themes I included to give it a slasher feel.

I also appreciate supernatural stories in which there are rules. I hate omnipotent killers, be they human, zombie, spiritual, or otherwise. Freddy gets you in your sleep. Michael Myers attacks you on Halloween. Jason stalks campgrounds. But lately there's been an infusion of The Grudge style paranormal stories in which the ghost just appears anywhere and can do anything. Without getting spoilery, I made sure to set up a rule in The Keysmith and stick to it.

Horror flicks in the '80's also taught moral lessons. Sex equals death. Drugs equals death. So of course I set up my tale with two twenty year olds heading to a stud's house to sell drugs and score. You just know that's not going to end well.

And once I succeeded in what I'd set out to establish, I realized that the story was only partially over. I was already envisioning what happens next and suddenly The Keysmith grew in size and scope on its own. I'm a major proponent of letting characters surprise authors. Sometimes I shut the laptop, close my eyes, and watch the story progress on its own before typing again.

In writing The Keysmith, I tapped into the anxiety I feel after watching an effective horror movie on a lonely summer night. What is that noise coming from upstairs? What if you're not really alone? What if there's someone on the other side of your bedroom door?

Elliot Arthur Cross

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