I have just published my latest novel, a horror titled The Waters of Life. I’ve certainly delved into horror before and will do again, but nevertheless this book is extraordinary even by my standards. I thought a blog was in order to trace my thought processes in the writing of this book.
The actual initial idea for the story was sparked by a comment from a fellow indie author and friend named May J. Panayi (be sure to check her books out too; ‘Malbed Mews‘ is a real stunner if you like your horrors). In one of her travel blogs, when referencing a trip to Greece, she mentioned “drinking water from the tomb”. This inspired a raft of grotesque thoughts and scenarios.
So my tale became woven around the tomb of a saintly abbot, from which a spring with alleged healing properties flowed.
From the outset, I decided I wanted to write a real horror, a story which would be utterly doom-laden, downbeat and oppressive, in which not a single character would have a happy ending. At the end of every horror book or movie, there are generally one or two characters who limp away from the carnage at the end. I was determined that this would not be the case with The Waters of Life. There is no sigh of relief for the reader as the final page is turned. I wanted this book to truly horrify, to be misery incarnate.
So, in order to accomplish this I had to decide upon the nature of the horror. The only way to write such a bleak novel convincingly would be to write about those things which truly horrify me and which turn my stomach.
This, to me, meant body horror. I have always felt that there can be nothing more horrible than when your own body turns against you and begins changing or killing you from within, an enemy that you cannot flee, which alters your very identity and sense of self. A quick look back at the things which had genuinely frightened me as a child confirmed this feeling: Doctor Who episodes such as ‘The Green Death‘ and ‘The Ark in Space‘, which both featured extreme body horror, and more recent horror writings such as Brian Lumley’s eerie and grotesque ‘Fruiting Bodies‘ and Guy N. Smith’s exquisitely revolting ‘The Festering‘.
The most terrifying and blood curdling examples of body horror, which have often been evoked in horror literature, are deadly, disfiguring diseases, which arouse both pity and revulsion and unreasoning terror in equal measures. So a hideous contagion became the core threat of my novel, all tied in with themes of gangsters, brutality and torture; long-buried evil and sinister religious orders.
I think I succeeded in capturing what I set out to do. The Waters of Life is not an easy read, it is uncomfortable, skin crawling (literally!), repellent and heart-rending. Reading it will not make you feel good. But it may manage to fulfill the original remit of tragedy: to prove a catharsis, a purging of your darkest fears and emotions. There is a human need to vent such emotions, which was why I chose to write such a book.
To make the unrelenting misery and horror easier to bear, the Kindle edition costs a mere 99p / 99c, or is free to read through the Kindle Unlimited service.
I will close with the back cover blurb from the book, and those who wish to sample more will find the entire prologue here at an earlier blog entry.
“Eric Turner, a journalist specialising in accounts of the paranormal, investigates a healing well associated with a saintly abbot in the rural village of Scratchbury. Here he finds evidence of astonishing, miraculous cures: a blind woman who can see; a hunchbacked schoolgirl whose spine has straightened.
“But why is everyone else in the village so deathly ill?
“Why is a gangster so obsessed with shooting a movie in the ruins of the old monastery?
“Who are the ruthless order of monks who will defend their secret at any cost, even murder?
“As Eric investigates. he discovers to his horror that an evil that has been entombed for a thousand years is breaking free at last, and it brings plague and suffering in its wake. A pestilence stalks the land, and all flesh is its plaything.”