Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dark Readings, All Lit Up

By Cindy Bailey

I attended a book reading at Borderlands on Valencia this last Saturday. The genre was horror. Not my thing. But one of the readers, Maria Alexander, is an old writer friend from L.A., one I hadn’t seen in years. We used to work together at Warner Bros., crafting business documentation for them, while discussing our various creative writing projects on the side. Eventually, I moved to San Francisco and she started with another company, and life went on.

Now here she was, just down the street from me, reading one of her stories. So I had to go. (We writers have to support each other.)

Now, I’m very na├»ve about horror. When I think of it, I imagine blood and killings and body parts flying. I think of Halloween and Night of the Living Dead. I don’t, necessarily, think of good, quality writing. Yet that’s what I heard from the two women who read at Borderlands.

Maria and Loren Rhoads read stories from Sins of the Sirens: Fourteen Tales of Dark Desire, an anthology of dark stories from four female authors. I found Loren’s story moving—it created an eerie atmosphere that was palpable, complete with a solid sex scene. Maria’s story expressed intrigue and imagination; it was about a journal that writes back to it’s owner, advising him to kill the woman he writes bitterly about.

During the follow-up Q&A, I learned a little something more about my friend. Apparently, what turned her on to all things ghouly is having seen a horror movie on TV at the age of three. It blew her mind. In her words, she didn’t know that was not OK; her parents allowed it. The experience proved liberating for her. As a parent myself it made me think, hmm… maybe I should be careful to allow my son more freedoms...

Unfortunately, my life is such that I had to dash from the reading as soon as it was over, hoping to catch up with Maria later. But I appreciate what I gained from the reading by accident: a new found respect for the genre.

Way to go, Maria!