Back in April, I found myself sitting in front of the television with my twelve-year-old son watching The Walking Dead. Now we’ve watched Supernatural together for years, which sometimes isn’t appropriate for kids, but for the most part, he’s been okay with the scary scenes. I think I was a bit naïve on the graphic nature of The Walking Dead because after about ten minutes, I made the decision that this was not the show for him to be watching.
My son was very disappointed when I opted to change the channel and I was reminded of my innate curiosity as a young teen. The Night Stalker on television was always a good fix and then the string of thrillers and slasher flicks. I continued to enjoy twisted horror movies for most of my young adult life as well as books – both Stephen King and Dean Koontz really fed my morbid curiosity.
As I sat watching The Walking Dead, I realized I was right around the same age as my son when Halloween came out. And he’s got the same imagination, curiosity, and love for the twinge of fear that I do – that adrenaline rush you get when peeking at the screen over the blankets. I’m secretly ecstatic he has the same love for action and scary themes I do, thus I was beyond thrilled when he came to me last summer with a fantastic idea for a young adult series.
We started writing Don’t Fear The Reaper, the first book in The Death Chronicles series last summer and finished it in May of this year. It was definitely a learning experience for both of us and teaching a twelve-year-old the benefits of engaging all the senses when writing isn’t easy. However, the funniest moment we had writing together was an early scene in the book when the main character gets a kiss from his girlfriend. I asked my son what she smelled like.
Of course he laughed and said, “I don’t know. I don’t go around smelling girls!”
After the laughter died down, I explained that good story telling was much deeper than just saying ‘this happened then that happened’, you have to create the whole picture with words. The feel of the fall air on your character’s skin, the thrill of a first kiss and the terror of a close call all had to be drawn with both what the character experiences inside and out and this includes engaging all the senses for the full effect.
The great thing about this whole experience is I learned just how alike we are and just how creative his imagination really is.
Check out Don’t Fear the Reaper if you get a chance…
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