Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Guest Blogger: Matthew Warner, author of Blood Born (horror novel)

Today I have the honor of welcoming author Matthew Warner to the pages of Somebody Dies. Warner is the author of a short story collection (Death Sentences), two previous novels (The Organ Donor and Eyes Everywhere), and a collection of essays (Horror Is Not a 4-Letter Word).

I am currently halfway through his latest, Blood Born, and it is easily his best work yet, gripping, intelligent, and horrific.

"Where Ideas are Born"
by Matthew Warner

My story ideas are born any damn place possible. I’m not picky about those I raise to adulthood as long as I remain fertile. But you deserve a better explanation than that.

I conceived my most recent story while playing with my toddler son at the local tot lot. As I tried to keep him from picking up trash on his way to the playground’s slides, I noticed this hulking dude with tattoos beside a van. He was smoking a cigarette and watching my boy from behind mirrored sunglasses. Little warning prickles kept walking up my neck until Tattooed Dude turned to his child-snatcher van and hauled out . . .

Yep, you guessed it. A child. Probably his. They entered the playground and proceeded to have a grand old time on the swings.

When my shock wore off, I came home and wrote a short story that contains that scene.

So yeah, I’m a father. My life is Elmo, poopy diapers, and ultra-tight baby hugs around my windpipe. I therefore spend a lot of time thinking about children and parenting and all the stuff that can go horribly wrong. If Owen’s hand ever slips out of mine in a parking lot, I immediately flash to that scene in Pet Sematary where little Gage Creed runs into traffic to be creamed by a tractor trailer.

Is it any wonder, then, that my latest novel, Blood Born, deals with babies? Bad babies, of course. Babies conceived of brutal rapes and who come to term in just one week. Then eat their mothers. And grow to adulthood in just a few days to continue the cycle of rapes themselves.

Blood Born falls into a body of stories I’ve written about parenting. “Cat’s Cradle,” published last year at Horror Drive-In, deals with the consequences of letting your cat sleep next to your pregnant wife’s belly. (If your baby is born without a soul, don’t say I didn’t warn ya, okay?) “Maybe Monitored,” published in January at The Dark Fiction Spotlight, started when I thought I heard strange voices in Owen’s room through the baby monitor.

So that’s Matthew Warner’s Idea-Trolling Suggestion #1. It’s a variation on the old “write about what you know” chestnut: write about what’s occupying your thoughts.

There’s more to it than that, of course. I mixed some marketing considerations into Blood Born’s genesis. Such as, I wanted to reward readers of my previous novels by recycling a couple characters, namely Detective Christina Randall from The Organ Donor and the CalPark corporation from Eyes Everywhere.

I also wanted to write a horror story that appeals to women. That meant strong, female protagonists dealing with a situation that targets women. (And what could be more terrifying to a woman than rape?)

Sprinkled into that was my fascination with the Gaia theory -- the idea of the Earth as an organism -- and the paradigm of how a virus spreads. I learned in high school biology that when a virus invades a cell, it hijacks the cellular machinery to replicate itself, eventually causing the cell to explode and spread copies of the virus far and wide. I wondered how to represent such a thing if we took it up a frame of scale so that humans were the host “cells.” I concluded that a contagion spread by serial rapes and pregnancies was the logical choice.

Blood Born is also a monster story, and like most Americans, I grapple with the existence of our bona fide monsters: the Osama bin Ladens of the world. I learned while living in the Washington, DC, area during and immediately after 9/11 that when the shit hits the fan in the nation’s capital, the federal government doesn’t just respond by cleaning the shit off the fan blades. It stuffs a cork up the ass of every life form within 500 miles, declares a moratorium on farts and other airborne pollutants, and borrows $14 trillion from China to invade places suspected of harboring chemical toilets.

So, when a wave of strange animals starts impregnating every fertile woman in the DC area with creatures whom -- for lack of a better moniker -- the media label the Beltway Bigfoots, you can bet your bowel movements the government’s cure will indeed be worse than the disease, and, oh yeah, the baby will get thrown out with the bath water.

Man, I’m glad to be living in the Shenandoah Valley now. Here, a subway is just a sandwich shop. But I still get stressed out being a father to babies and stories alike.

Take a chance on my novel, will you? If you’re still hesitant, the first chapter and some awesome book trailers can be viewed at BloodBorn.info. And if that still doesn’t convince you, just lay your eyes on that sweet little boy pictured here with his daddy. You want him to eat, don’t you? I thought so.

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