R.B. Chesterton *is* Carolyn Haines
While world walking is often thought to be an art of fantasy characters, sometimes writers have to do it to. March 6, my gothic chiller, THE SEEKER, published by Pegasus Books, will drop. This is my second “dark” novel written under the R.B. Chesterton pseudonym. I also write a humorous mystery series under my real name, and the 14th Sarah Booth Delaney mystery will be published by St. Martin’s Minotaur in May.
Writing two books a year (and teaching and running an animal rescue) keeps me a busy person, but a strange thing has happened since I’ve added a “dark” book to my schedule of writing. I find that I write more, and my imagination is much more active.
Horror was my first love. I grew up reading Poe, thrilled by his masterful hand at painting the details of a word governed by shadow more than sunlight. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles” was a thrill ride of dark moors and the potential of a killing beast driven made by one bloodline. As I grew up, I discovered King and McCammon. These writers gave me the key to a door in a haunted house. Fabulous!
My journey as a writer took me many different places before I returned to a story that plagued me for years. The story of a young woman hired to homeschool the children of a wealthy family in Coden, Alabama. A privileged family that buys an old estate and renovates it—and also adopts an amnesiac young girl who brings darkness with her. THE DARKLING was a story I had to tell, and last year it was published by Pegasus.
I’ve always believed that the story is a gift. For those of us who are practitioners of the art of story-telling, the most incredible thing is the gift of a story that demands to be told. I’ve put a lot of thought into what this means. And the best way I can describe it is that our job as writers is to honor the gift of the story. Genre, point of view, length—these are things that we, as writers, can sometimes manipulate but often can’t. The story is what it is, and we serve it.
I’ve written in a lot of genres. Part of it is that I read everything. I don’t care what package the story comes in, if it’s well-written and skillfully told, I’ll read it and love it. But this means I get a lot of ideas for stories that don’t “fit” in the markets I normally write in. Such was the case with THE DARKLING. But I did my best to honor the story, and in doing so, I found that all of my writing was invigorated. Allowing yourself the luxury of simply listening to the story and telling it to the best of your ability is something every author should do whenever possible. It’s a little unnerving, because it’s stepping out into the darkness. But when I now turn my hand to write a Sarah Booth mystery, it’s like a rush into the sunlight to return to those characters and the warm embrace of Zinnia, Mississippi.
For those feeling low on energy, rev your engines up with a different kind of story. Just for fun. Remember, we became writers because we love writing. Honor yourselves and the story with some experimentation.
Carolyn Haines is the author of 65 books in a number of genres and under several pseudonyms. She was awarded the Harper Lee Distinguished Writer Award in 2010 and the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence in 2009. She teaches fiction writing at a Mobile university and runs Good Fortune Farm Refuge, an animal rescue. You can learn more about her at www.carolynhaines.com or her writing conference at www.daddysgirlsweekend.com