by James Boyle
I saw a woman I know the other day. She said she was reading my novel. “It gave me nightmares last night,” she said.
I was so proud.
I write horror fiction and its cousins, suspense and urban fantasy. Most of my writing though deals with horror, the things that go bump in the night. Why, you may ask, Why dwell on the darkest aspects of this life we're given to lead?
First of all, it's the kind of fiction I like to read. I've read at least some of all of them: Washington Irving, Edgar A. Poe, King, Straub, Barker, and Rice. It is the kind of story I naturally gravitate to, therefore it is the kind of story I write.
And face it, if done well, horror is like no other genre. It touches a primal something that's leftover from the days of scrounging for food on the savannah, while trying to avoid becoming something else's food. When afraid, we are alive. Our senses work on overdrive. We can hear every sound around us, see details we'd normally gloss over, smell the grass growing. Adrenaline fills our bloodstream and time slows to a crawl. We are actively, consciously, living each moment.
Then, when the danger has passed and we have survived, there is catharsis. Life is sweeter when we have nearly lost it.
So I like the fear fiction. I enjoy fear fiction. If doing this means exploring the dark side of our existence, then so be it. There are plenty of very talented writers out there who are exploring the light side and doing a much better job than I could probably do. I will stay here in the dark.
James’ father worked for the phone company as he was growing up, which was much like growing up in a military family. The company transferred his family from town to town every couple of years. By the time he’d graduated high school, they’d moved twenty times. He attended nine different schools in five cities and three states.
He lived mainly in North Dakota until he was eight, since then he lived in Washington and Oregon, moving to Gold Beach when he was sixteen. He finds that the landscape of the Pacific Northwest has done more to influence him than nearly everything else. Its vast forests, rugged mountains, seascapes and sparse population inspire recollections of what the pioneers first fell in love with a century and a half ago. From his house, he can still hike fifteen minutes and spend the entire day without seeing another human being. And the possibility exists that he could see sasquatch.
One of his goals is to build a dark fiction landscape of the Pacific Northwest, much like Stephen King has done with Maine. A landscape of dark possibilities.
When he was a child living in Bismark, North Dakota, his parents took James to Fort Abraham Lincoln, the fort Gen. Custer left on his last, fateful campaign and the Knife River Village, the restored ruins of a Mandan village. Now forty years later, the memories have faded, but not the memory of the impression the visits made on a small boy. Years later, he read Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. After that he devoured everything he could find about Native American history and culture. He came to have a deep sympathy for the Native peoples’ doomed resistance to the white culture and admiration for their cultural connection to the natural world around them. The dominant culture seeks to change and subjugate a nature it sees as an enemy; the Natives sought to live within the natural world as one part of a dynamic whole.
When he was eighteen, James was diagnosed with a severe case of scoliosis. After graduating early from Gold Beach High Schoolin 1978, he underwent surgery that fused most of his lumber spine. Six months in a body cast later, he continued on to college at the University of Oregon, where he earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. Now, forty years after the surgery, his body is beginning to break down a bit. So if you see him and notice he seems to be bent and twisted, you know why.
When he’s not writing, James has worked in the restaurant industry as a cook and as a manager, mostly in the Eugene/Springfield area, but most lately at Gold Beach’s Port Hole Cafe. Looking back, he seems to have a lot of scenes set in restaurants. He enjoy reading, playing an occasional video game, taking his dog for exploratory hikes along the beach or river. He is happily single. (it’s so much less complicated.)
You can visit James’ website at www.jamesboylewrites.com.