(I just sent this to my publicist and thought I’d share it on my blog. With Halloween coming, we’re trying to pitch Solitary to various places for exposure. Here are some of my thoughts on the series.)
When I was a teen, I loved being scared. I remember watching the first Friday The 13th movie at my grandparents late at night when they were already asleep. They had HBO and this was my first time watching a movie my parents wouldn’t have wanted me to watch. It really freaked me out. Yet I also loved being freaked out. So began my love of all things scary.
Why do teens especially love dark and spooky stories?
There are probably lots of reasons, but I think one reason is because they’re coming-of-age and these stories speak truth to them. Obviously a guy in a mask chasing teens with an axe can’t communicate deep spiritual truths, but it can reflect the oppressive world out there. Let’s be honest—teenage years are tough years. You suddenly start getting a taste of what real life is all about, and sometimes it’s scary. Real life is painful. Real life is full of tragedies and unexplained mysteries.
Horror movies and novels get to the core of those fears. I believe that’s one reason teens flock to them.
I’m channeling some of that in The Solitary Tales. I’m taking a teenager’s interest (my own interest) in the supernatural. I’m also trying to blend an authentic sixteen-year-old’s experience with a dark and twisted tale.
I never want to say that The Solitary Tales are a “Christian alternative” to the stuff that’s out there. I want it to be put into the same category as the vampire novels, as the spine-tingling tales that are already out there. I want these stories to stand on their own, and I want readers to fall in love with Chris and the mysteries of Solitary.
Yet I can’t escape putting myself in these stories. The insecure teenager who loved watching those scary movies. Or the insecure adult trying to make sense of the darkness in the world. I believe in the darkness, but I also believe in the light that controls it.
It’s so easy to say “here’s a Christian version of blah-blah-blah.” But I want The Solitary Tales to stand on its own as a scary set of teen novels from a guy who likes stuff like that. I can’t help but let my worldview shine through. There is hope at the end of these stories, the same way I believe there is hope for us after this life. But that doesn’t mean this life is going to be nice and shiny and easy. And sometimes, for some, the story doesn’t end with hope. That’s life, and that’s what teens are starting to come to grips with as they grow closer to adulthood.