Censorship has affected my writing from the beginning, but not in the way one would imagine. My early works were screenplays. The most primitive one came from my teenage years as The Deadfall. I wrote the first version around 1989 in reaction to the horror films I watched always being edited for the censors. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) had severely cracked down on violence in movies and by the end of the eighties, hardly anything got by. Films were edited to the point of scenes not making sense and the impact of practical special FX was lost. It was disheartening to see images in Fangoria magazine that were no where to be found in the films. Some movies would resurface with unrated editions, and there were avenues like underground VHS sellers and Japanese laserdiscs, but the majority were censored and the material lost to stupidity (it is amazing what studios throw in the trash) and time. Television was not safe either, with the religious right on a letter writing crusade that ended the popular Friday the 13th - The Series — among others. This was the climate that set me to write a screenplay that took the violence to operatic heights.
Unbridled from restrictions, I wrote an over the top screenplay with an emphasis on tone and blood. My teenage self took it to the limits by expanding on imagery similar to The Gates of Hell by Lucio Fulci, Tenebrae by Dario Argento, and the stuff I imagined cut out of every slasher movie of the time. The story was depraved and filled with an otherworldliness. It almost became a shot on video production by me and my friends until a car wreck in 1990 ended it. Rewriting it years later, I discovered that sometimes less is more. Overdoing it leads to desensitization. l can write about the taboo, but the mind of a reader is stronger. Situations can be described to a point then the reader will fill in the blanks with something worse than the writing on the page. Imagination is the key. The same can be said about film. A few seconds of carnage goes a long way as a few words can get the point across.
I used this philosophy with Escape from Dolphin Street, The Trouble with Furries, and Wild Boys - A Peculiar Western Novel, along with the older stories in Anarchy. I updated them to a point as their rough edges give them a texture. Ultimately, I feel they need to live close to the time they were written. I am evolving as writer and one day they may get a professional polish but not by me. The stories are what is important, and I hope that shines through.
Moving forward, I have discovered new challenges in writing my Rebel’s Edge series. I am aiming for a YA style which has guided me to change the adult activity descriptions to reflect that, including a lack of bad language. Honestly, this being based on true events is the hardest thing I have ever written. I have accepted the journey and hardship it brings forth as the endgame is worth it.
The Deadfall in its final, albeit rough, form is part of Anarchy - Strange Tales of Outsiders which includes some of my oldest stuff.