Headed Downstream (or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Trends)

I don’t write to trends. And this is probably why “period Euro-horror possession story” isn’t its own Amazon sub-category yet. I don’t consider this a virtue or a failing. It just is.

But sometimes trends bump into my interests, which is the case with the two aquatic horror novellas that I’ve co-written with Cameron Pierce.

(My regular crowd is now asking: “wait. ‘two aquatic horror novellas? Where’s the other one?” To which I now answer: “Surprise! We just had a new book drop called Crawling Darkness and you can buy it now in ebook or paperback!)


Our publisher on these, Severed Press, has found success exploiting certain niches on Amazon. It’s not the way I read, I’m much more prone to follow specific authors than story-types, but being the same way with my movie watching: I understand the impulse (put a satanic cult in your movie and you see if I don’t watch it). But there is no denying the evidence that a lot of folks get a hankering for Kaiju stories, or zombie stories, or giant shark stories, and we authors should be more than willing to help fill that demand. It’s our job–especially in the genres–to entertain.

Which brings me back to that “I don’t write to trends” statement. I don’t pass judgement on people who do write to trends, writing while always keeping one finger on the pulse of the market. Hell, most days I wish I could do that. But I know that I’m not really able to. My “process”(oh no, he’s using words like process… what’s next? Gonna start tweeting about his word counts and instagraming pictures of himself in coffee shops with the hashtag #writerslife or #amwriting… I don’t think I could take that level of self-involvement), such as it is, can only gain momentum when I’m into the book I’m working on. If I’m doing something that feels wrong… boy does a project take forever to crank out. And that’s if I can manage to dislodge it at all.

I can only speak for myself  in these matters (and kinda for Cameron, since I get a front-row seat to his process when we write together), but there’s not a drop of cynicism in choosing to write in a proven, or “hot”, sub-genre. We’re doing this because there’s an overlap with the kinds of stories we like to write and the kind of story more-people-than-usual seem to want to read. We’ve got a story to tell and it’s a story that our eccentricities, obsessions, and interests make us  uniquely suited to tell.

For better or for worse (and believe me, some readers would lean on the ‘worse’ there, take a look at the amazon reviewer who thinks we were on drugs when we wrote it, or the ones who think the idea of a giant catfish is flat-out stupid) Bottom Feeders is a book that only we could’ve written: a combination of my penchant for rural/southern noir, a third act demonstrating Cameron’s affinity for weirdo cosmic horror, and the whole damn thing struck-through with our mutual affinity for Jaws. It’s a book that has sold well, either in whole or in part because it’s an aquatic horror story, but it’s in no way us “selling out”or compromising just because there’s a little water and a fish in it.

It’s the same with our new book, Crawling Darkness. I’ve been living in Philly for three years now and I’ve been itching to tell a story set in my adoptive home. This is it! The book opens with a character going on a run through a park… that’s the park I run in! I mean, I’ve never seen any killer eels in that park, but you never know.

And as much of a debt that it owes to the animals attack novels of the past (Guy N. Smith) and carries shades of an X-files-like conspiracy, we made sure that it also has a helping the “lots of smaller creatures run amok” sub-genre that we love (Critters, Gremlins, etc.).

For what Cameron’s bringing to the table in this one: I think the characters here shine and they are almost uniformly folks that I would identify as Pierce-ian. And there’s fishing discussion, which has become Cameron’s bread and butter in recent years, he’s even edited a forthcoming anthology of fishing non-fiction for a major publisher (which I’m in, coincidentally… thanks, bud).


So whatever, not sure how to end this blog other than with a declaration:

Yeah, I write to trends now, I guess. I’ll write whatever I damn well feel like! Wanna fight about it?*

*I don’t actually want to fight you. I’d lose, I’ve got spindly little writer’s arms. But what I do want is for you to buy, read, review, talk, share, tweet, facebook, Goodreads the hell out of our new book. That would make me very happy and appreciative.

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