It’s true. I absolutely 100% cannot stand, tolerate, sit through, or view gore on the screen. And it’s not that I have a moral or ethical issue with gore on the screen. I don’t. I swear. It just truly freaks me out.
“But, Diana,” you say. “Didn’t you used to work in a morgue? Weren’t you a cop? Haven’t you seen plenty of blood and guts in your time on this fair earth of ours?”
Well, yeah. I have seen quite a bit of gore. I have literally been elbow deep in the dead. I’ve cut bodies open, used pruning shears to cut through ribs, used bone saws on skulls, taken brains out of bodies, stuck needles into eyeballs… all without flinching, batting an eyelash, or losing my lunch. I’ve seen, up close and personal, the aftermath of accidents, and murder, and suicide. But show me anything like that on TV or in a movie? I’ll be the chick cringing and covering her eyes.
My theory is that when I’m faced with things that are truly horrific my clever little hindbrain gives me a defense mechanism and tells me that all those bodies and body parts etc. aren’t “real.” It’s just meat. Plastic. Stuff. Not remnants or remains of actual people. But when I’m faced with it on the screen, my stupid hindbrain says, “Oh, that’s not real. This is make-believe. Therefore, no defense mechanism is needed. Have fun!”
And Diana gets freaked the hell out!
Fortunately, writing the icky gory scenes that fit so deliciously into my books apparently falls nicely into the category of stuff my hindbrain thinks is real, and thus it lets me go wild with it. Much of the truly yucky stuff is (unfortunately) drawn from experience. Even before I worked in the morgue I had plenty of experience with the blood and gut end of things during my career as a police officer—all the various ways bodies get maimed, as well as the lovely and pungent stages of decomposition. (My first body was an elderly woman who’d been dead for about two weeks… in a trailer with the heat turned way up. The smell was… well, even after two showers I was convinced I could still smell it.)
(Also, did you know that a body that’s about six weeks dead with maggot activity looks DISTURBINGLY like sesame chicken at first glance? Yeah, I can’t eat sesame chicken anymore.)
However, there are “gross” aspects that I do completely make up. Please trust me when I tell you that I have absolutely NO idea what a brain tastes like, or what kind of consistency it has. I really don’t know how well it would work to mix brains with tapioca pudding, or whether it could be confused for tofu. And, hopefully, I don’t have any readers who can correct me in the event I’m wrong about any of my brain-food related details.
Or, at least, none who will admit it.
But here’s the thing: I don’t set out to be gross or disgusting when I write the scenes that have gore in them. I’m not trying to freak the reader out. I’m simply doing my best to add a visceral layer of realism in an attempt to let the reader feel the impact of the scene. It’s part of the description, a way to set the tone and to let everyone know just how high the stakes are. Sure, I don’t have to describe the way the flesh gapes, or the smell of the bone dust that the saw kicks up as it carves through the skull. But I also don’t have to describe the scent of coffee as a character walks through a café. I don’t have to describe the feel of her lover’s skin beneath her hand.
Yet, of course, I do. Because it’s how you make your book come to life. That being said, I try hard not to go overboard on the gross-and-yucky. There’s a fine line between adding depth to the scene and simply being disgusting for the shock value.
There are times when I’m sad that I can’t get into horror movies the same way so many of my friends can. I know that it puts me at a bit of a “cultural knowledge” advantage at times, since I can’t wax eloquent on the philosophical implications of various horror movies. And sometimes I’ll force myself to get through one because I’m aware that those moments of “GAH!” are there to set the scene and add to the tension in a really excellent story and are not there simply to disgust or shock. (It took me about six tries to get through Alien. Yes, in some ways I really am a weenie.)
But, yes, I’m probably the only author of zombie fiction who can’t watch zombie movies.
::Hangs head in shame::
Diana Rowland has lived her entire life below the Mason-Dixon line, uses “y’all” for second-person-plural, and otherwise has no southern accent (in her opinion.) She somehow managed to eke out a BS in Applied Mathematics from Georgia Tech, and after graduation forgot everything about higher math as quickly as possible.
She has worked as a bartender, a blackjack dealer, a pit boss, a street cop, a detective, a computer forensics specialist, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant, which means that she’s seen a helluva lot of weird crap. She won the marksmanship award in her Police Academy class, has a black belt in Hapkido, has handled numerous dead bodies in various states of decomposition, and can’t rollerblade to save her life.
Diana is the author of police procedural urban fantasy, including the Kara Gillian-Demon Summoner series (Mark of the Demon, Blood of the Demon, Secrets of the Demon, Sins of the Demon, Touch of the Demon) and the White Trash Zombie series (My Life As A White Trash Zombie, Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues.) She presently lives in south Louisiana with her husband and her daughter where she is deeply grateful for the existence of air conditioning.
TOUCH OF THE DEMON: Kara Gillian is in Seriously Deep Trouble. She’s used to summoning supernatural creatures from the demon realm to our world, but now she’s the one who’s been summoned. Kara is the prisoner of the demonic Lord Mzatal, but quickly discovers that she’s far more than a mere hostage. He has his own plans to use Kara and keep her from Rhyzkahl-the demonic lord she is sworn to serve. However, waiting for rescue has never been Kara’s style, and she has no intention of being a pawn in someone else’s game. Yet intrigue and treachery run rampant amongst all lords, and Kara is hard pressed to keep her wits about her. Her abilities as a homicide detective are put the the test as she seeks the truth about FBI Agent Ryan Kristoff, Rhyzkahl, and herself. But, the answers she finds only raise more questions. She soon discovers that she has her own history in the demon realm-one that goes back farther than she could have ever imagined. But that history may yet spell her doom as she’s faced with a peril beyond mortal comprehension. She’s going to need all the strength and tenacity she’s developed as a cop and a summoner, or the hell she endures may well last forever.
EVEN WHITE TRASH ZOMBIES GET THE BLUES: Angel Crawford is finally starting to get used to life as a brain-eating zombie, but her problems are far from over. Her felony record is coming back to haunt her, more zombie hunters are popping up, and she’s beginning to wonder if her hunky cop-boyfriend is involved with the zombie mafia. Yeah, that’s right—the zombie mafia. Throw in a secret lab and a lot of conspiracy, and Angel’s going to need all of her brainpower—and maybe a brain smoothie as well—in order to get through it without falling apart.
DIANA ROWLAND ONLINE
Diana is giving away TWO (2) paperback ARCs of Touch of the Demon
For entry please answer the following question then fill out the form below: Tell me your favourite brain recipe! (Can be something that is real food mean’t to look like brains, or a (hopefully) fictional recipe that would actually contain real brains. 😀 )
This giveaway is International and ends 12:00am GMT 30th November 2012