My Old Horror Novels

Schoolhouse by Lee Duigon

Pretty hokey cover, isn’t it? But that was Schoolhouse, my second published novel, from 1988.

My wife has been re-reading my old horror novels. I sold the first one, Lifeblood, in 1986 and the last one, Mind Stealer, came out in 1990. Not a very long career.

Anyway, she thinks these are terrific horror novels. It makes me wonder if anyone else out there has read them. Brief descriptions follow:

Lifeblood: A vampire preys on the people of an affluent suburban township.

Schoolhouse: This school is haunted by a lot more than just ghosts.

Precog: Can psychic powers be created by science? Rather harrowing, finding out.

Mind Stealer: What happens when you mix business theory with devilish occult practices?

Look, it was a long time ago, I was writing because it seemed my only chance to achieve something, anything, in life–and then the horror market imploded in 1990 and a lot of us horror writers got cast aside. Adios, muchachos.

I don’t write books like this anymore. I don’t write solely for my own aggrandizement anymore: if my books don’t serve Christ’s Kingdom, they might as well not be written. The horror novels are full of all those dirty words and morally dubious behaviors that seemed so up-to-date and with-it back then. But they also contain some memorable scenes and characters and I would rate them as very good examples of that kind of literature.

Some of you will disagree with me, but I don’t think that horror novels or horror movies are entirely without merit. If nothing else, a good one can blow out the cobwebs. It can, for a little time, allow you to forget the real horror of a nation menaced by Democrats. A good scare, administered by a haint or a monster that doesn’t really exist and will soon go away, has a therapeutic value.

The worldly monsters that we have to deal with, they never go away.

Writing Tips: Getting Started

Little Girl Writing Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

Faith, 12, has asked me for writing tips, so here we go. The nooze can wait.

I was writing stories when I was 12. I was even writing “books,” longhand in one of those black-and-white composition notebooks. I was, of course, fully convinced that these efforts of mine were good enough to be published; but in the meantime, I read them to my friends.

Which is a way of getting started as a writer!

No one wants to hear this–I certainly didn’t–but it takes a certain amount of life experience to write about life. Maybe that’s why children experimenting with story-telling are so apt to venture into science fiction or fantasy: instead of knowing things, they’re free to make things up.

Ah! But your time isn’t wasted. I started telling stories when I was in third grade, nine years old. I had two friends who liked inventing stories, and we would sit together in their cellar and entertain each other with the stories we made up–mostly about monsters.

Writing itself can be tricky. Getting your point across the way you want it, saying what you really mean to say, so that someone else will understand it–these take years of practice. There’s no substitute for practice. In fact, let me emphasize it: THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PRACTICE.

I couldn’t do at 15 or 16 the things I can do as a writer now. I couldn’t do at 12 what I could do at 16.

So don’t be discouraged if you can’t get stuff published when you’re 12 (although when I was 12, there was no such thing as self-publishing). The time is not being lost; it’s being invested. What you need to be doing is telling stories–whatever kind of stories you enjoy telling. Tell them to your friends. If your friends like your stories and want to hear more, you are very much on the right track.

And keep at it. Just keep at it. I didn’t get anything published professionally until I was almost 40 years old. You’re bound to do better than that.

I Got My Start with a Vampire Story

Image result for images of lifeblood by lee duigon

This was my first published novel, Lifeblood, vintage 1988. Heidi asked how I made the jump from horror to Christian novels.

Well, first off, it took 20 years. There was a horror boom in the 1980s, and I was part of it. When it turned into a horror bust in the 1990s, I was part of that, too. I wrote a lot of books after that, but none ever got published. It really wasn’t looking like I would ever be published again.

I had four horror novels published. I wrote them in hopes of becoming rich and famous, for my own aggrandizement. Serving God never crossed my mind.

In a radio interview a few years ago, Kevin Swanson asked me, “So what woke you up?” And I answered, “Believe it or not, Bill Clinton! Suddenly we had a president doing sex with an intern in the Oval Office, going all Charlie High school smart guy on us by saying ‘It depends on what is is,’ and getting away with it–and all these people saying ‘Oh, it’s only sex, and lying about sex, and everybody does it, no big deal.'”  It became obvious that our culture had slipped a few big notches downward while I wasn’t looking. Did I want to live in a country where it really was okay for the president to be doing interns in the Oval Office? I could hardly recognize it as the America that was supposed to be my home.

Fear sent me running back to the Bible, back to prayer. I started writing quasi-journalistic pieces for several Christian, pro-family organizations and eventually caught on with the Chalcedon Foundation (and I’m happy to say I’m still there!).

Chalcedon publishes books on theology; but a few years ago, someone wondered if it might not be a good idea if we published a novel or two. And my editor, Susan, said, “But we already have a novelist!” Meaning me.

And it just so happened that I had only recently had a dream featuring a high mountain with the sound of a bell somewhere in the air. It was a very haunting image, and it became the seed of Bell Mountain.

God keeps giving me these novels to write in His service–twelve of them, so far. As long as He keeps giving them, I’ll keep writing them. This is the work I love best, and may it be fruitful to Christ’s Kingdom.

The Ol’ Horror Novelist

Every now and then I encounter a comment like this: “What’s a ‘horror novelist’ doing, writing Christian commentary?” The people who make these comments seem rather ticked off that I should be writing anything at all.

Thirty years ago, I was writing horror novels and four of them got published. Lifeblood was my first–and note the tiny little letters for the author’s name. I wrote them because I’ve never wanted to be anything but a writer, all my life; I like scary stories; and horror was booming at the time. And even if I do say so myself, as Steven King knock-offs go, these were pretty good.

But it was thirty years ago, and it would be a sad thing if I never grew and matured spiritually in all those years. Obviously I don’t write that kind of book anymore. I doubt I could, even if I wanted to.

So, because I used to write such books decades ago, that disqualifies me from ever writing anything else? Is it like an armed robbery conviction and prison term suddenly appearing in the resume of a political candidate? Some folks out there seem to think so. But I think this phase of my writing career was a door that I had to pass through to get to where I am today.

I once wrote for the glory of me. Now I write, I hope, for the glory of God.

Robbie Update: They gave her a shot to subdue her nausea, and since we came home this morning, Robbie has already eaten more than she has in the last two days put together. Not a lot, but enough to give us some encouragement. Please, Lord, in Jesus’ name, make this turn out right! Amen.

And now this old horror novelist is about finished for the afternoon.