On Writing Horror and Children’s Books

A lot of people ask me how I can write chilling horror and sweet children’s picture books at the same time. Somehow they cannot imagine a writer doing that, switching from two absolutely different modes and wandering in such dissimilar imaginary worlds at the touch of a mouse. That question flatters me to some extend, but it also makes me wonder… am I weird? Is there something wrong with me? Do I have split personalities? I hope not!

Nah, I’m just a multi-genre, multi-faceted person who is inspired by many things and who feels the need to bring those ideas to life. I don’t think I could ever write in only one genre, as many authors are able to. For me, it would feel claustrophobic! I simply write what I love and I love paranormal, suspense, satire, mystery, modern fantasy, literary, romantic comedy, picture books, tween and young adult fiction, and even nonfiction. Each genre transports me into a marvelous, different dreamland where everything is possible and where I set the rules—except, of course, when my characters take over, as sometimes they seem to think they have control over me.

I can write a scary story in the morning, have lunch, then work on a sweet picture book in the afternoon. It’s like switching modes and happens pretty much automatically, though my mood changes as well. Of course, although the actual writing process is the same for all fiction (after all, it doesn’t matter what you write, it all must contain a good plot and flow, compelling characters, sparkling dialogue, etc.), the actual ‘atmospheric’ aids I use for writing change. For instance, I like to listen to haunting, mysterious music when I write horror and paranormal suspense. During the writing of latest horror novel, Dark Lullaby, I spent months listening to the music score of the movie The Village. On occasions I even lit candelabra on my desk. It goes without saying that I would never do this while writing a picture book! During the writing and editing of The Doll Violinist and The Magic Violin, both children’s picture books, I selected soul-filling, sublime violin music.

In the end, there is that absolute need to put those thoughts to paper, to convert those ideas to the ‘reality’ of my fictional world, yes, to bring those dreams to life until they become so real, I find myself thinking about the story and conversing with the characters day and night—no matter the genre. This is the way creativity works.

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