What goes into a person to make them a dark horror speculative fiction writer?
I often wonder how I ended up liking the things I do; the dark, twisted, downright macabre stuff. Like vampires, necromancy, the devil, monsters, and anti-heroes. All this stuff repeatedly shows up in my writing.
Then, today, I got my answer. Dear hubby and I cleaned out our storeroom and I came across boxes of my childhood toys, books, and other mementos… and a whole damn lot of them were twisted!
Was I drawn to the weird and warped even as a child? Or did my childhood toys warp me? You be the judge…
I was a MASSIVE He-Man fan, though eagle-eyed viewers will notice there are more bad guys than good guys lined up. You might also notice they’re missing their swords, cloaks and other accouterments. I had a thing about making my toys naked. Go figure.
So, I had a bunch of action figures including He-Man, She-Ra, The Sorceress… but this guy, Vampire Dude, was my favourite. I played with him so much his head came off. He was always the Big Bad in my fantasies, and curiously, he always ‘got the girl’ too (sure by kidnapping and mind control but hey, whatever works right)…
My brother and friends had Batman. I had the REAL Batman. I was obsessed with this dude. First, I loved any character with wings, second, he was a tragic anti-hero in my fantasies. The misunderstood villain.
Finally, he had this awesome wing flap action if you pressed a button on his back that made the wings actually move!
Back in the days of my childhood, Marvel was NOT the big thing it is today. You could buy DC toys like the Dickens, but forget Marvel toys. Sucked for me, I was a MASSIVE Spiderman fan. But do you think I could get a spidey toy? Nope.
So Dear Dad fixed that for me. With a little paint and a lot of time, he turned The Riddler into Spiderman for me. Still looks pretty awesome to me today!
Same problem with X-Men figures as with Spidey. I couldn’t get a Rogue figurine to save myself, and she was BOSS. So, at my request and using some car-bog for her hair and paint for the outfit, Dear Dad made me a Rogue.
These two examples don’t exactly prove my ‘darkness’ but they do go to show I was – at the least – weird.
Okay, I cannot apologise enough for this one. While my friends desperately wanted the Barbie beach house or Barbie corvette… all I wanted was the Barbie torture rack. Once again, Dear Dad obliged and made me my very own Barbie torture rack, complete with spinning wheel, blood stains and gouge marks. Yeah… this one is a bit of a tell-all!
This was part of my knife collection. I don’t know where the majority of my collection ended up, these were just the few I could find. All twelve-year-old girls had a knife collection, right?
Yeah, so even my soft, plush toys were weird. There was Punk Pig on the left, and Spike the Skateboarding punk dog on the right. There was a Rocker Rat that went with Spike but he skipped out on the photo.
There’s not so much wrong with these toys, as the mind behind them. They are very obviously The Three Bears, but unfortunately, they came without Goldilocks. I solved that by buying the doll on the end separately… then proceeded to call them Moudly-Locks and the Three Bears.
This one’s not really warped, but it did contribute to who I am as a writer today. This is THE book that got me into fantasy, anti-heroes, and writing. My original battered copy of Dargons of Autumn Twilight, from the Dragonlance Saga. I owe a LOT to this book.
This final exhibit is not a dark and twisted one – this is my first soft toy, Fat Cat. Fat Cat was an Australian children’s television show mascot, and this particular ‘Cat’ was given to me around 6 months after I was born. He’s old, flat, worn, but a beloved reminder of an awesome childhood.
So what do you think? Innocent sweet child corrupted by her toys and influences? Or twisted demon-spawn who turned her world into a reflection of her macabre mind? Either way – I’m glad for every influence – I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without this rich tapestry of history!