I’ve been asked why I write this fiction many times, from a relatively early age onward. I’ve never had a reasonable answer — until now. The process of writing my current book, Mr. Darkness, has brought me around to it:
Before we open our eyes, we live in a place of dark invention.
Whether in dreams, beliefs, thoughts, fantasies, remnant architecture of an impossible world, the haunted past or the hopeful future, we live half our lives in a dark place.
Even when our eyes are open and we’re reading or walking or working or relaxing, we also know the dark place is still there, inside us. We take it for granted; it doesn’t disturb us — for the most part.
But sometimes, it does.
The fiction of the dark is important to explore. It is us; it is part of who we are; it won’t be denied; you live within it whether you admit it or not; and even better, it can be exciting and thrilling and fun.
We imagine the world in the dark before we even see it.
The ghosts of life dwell in our minds — and not in the part that looks out from us upon the daily obligations of getting on in life, the “what we do” during waking hours; although these ghosts exist simultaneous to the daylight itself and we always know they’re there.
The open-eyed world distracts us temporarily, but at some point during the day or night, we know we’ll return to the dark.
And then, what awaits us?
Close your eyes. Where are you? Not “where are you on earth?” but “where are you — the ‘you’ behind your eyes — when you close them?
Where have you gone? Where do you imagine the ‘you’ exists?”
It is a place of impulse, irrationality, influences of the imagination that are both ours and from others (imagined or real) who’ve influenced us (for good or ill) during our lifetimes.
The domain of the irrational but also the realm of infinite possibility.
Dark fiction continues to fascinate me. I felt its pull when I was very young. Despite the more sunlit reading, I’ve always loved the fiction of night, where all of us raise glimmering if imprecise lanterns to explore our own versions of the Lascaux Caves as we uncover evidence of more than what we see when we open our eyes.
There’s nothing morbid in this particular excavation anymore than there is in any archeological dig, despite the ancient tragedies and terrors and wonders found beneath the earth, under jungle vines, or buried in a mountain of volcanic ash.
Bring what resides in the dark into the light. Examine it. Appreciate it. Discover its connection to everything. Enjoy its treasures. Face its absurdity. But be sure and unwind Ariadne’s thread as you go so you don’t get lost down the spiraling avenues.
Call it horror, call it nightmare, call it fable, call it fantasy, call it irrational, call it thriller, call it psychological. All names that judge the dark, but none that adequately describe it.
And so I write dark fiction and return to the archeological dig of story to bring these shards of imagination into sunlit realms.
– Douglas Clegg
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