ON DWELLING BY THE DARK STREAM

My name is Douglas D. Hawk. I am a writer, primarily of horror novels although I dabble in adventure and historical crime.

“Douglas” is Scottish and Gaelic for “dweller by the dark stream” or “dark river.” I’ve always liked that; hence, the name of my blog. However, I was writing horror novels – dwelling by that dark stream – long before I happened upon my name’s meaning.

The “Hawk” comes from the British. I’ve always believed that some distant ancestor was swilling ale in a sketchy roadhouse or dubious inn called The Hawk or The Hawk’s Inn or something similar when the tax collector showed up and my drunken forbearer paid, signed the rolls and thereafter was known as something or other Hawk.

I am, indeed, a dweller by a dark stream. That’s not to say I revel in blood and gore and carnage or cheerlead at car wrecks or rubber-neck industrial accidents. Quite the contrary, I’m an upbeat, positive guy. In fact, I remind myself every day that my mood and disposition are choices and I choose to be happy. I mean, let’s face it, choosing to be unhappy is both asinine and insane.

Besides, writing horror is not about embracing darkness; it is about peering and poking into the darkness to better appreciate the light. It’s hard to understand what is truly good if we do not understand what is truly evil. Besides, I like to scare the bejesus out of people. When someone tells me that they read one of my books and “couldn’t sleep all night,” I feel no guilt, not the least little bit. No, on the contrary, I’m delighted. That was my intent.

My brand of horror is personal. I exploit fears, phobias and the things that haunt our dreams and wake us in the dark with our heart pounding and our face bathed in sweat; the terrors that make our stomach flutter, our knees weak and shorten our breath.

Cast a few characters in some remote locale with an unseen force or an unknown entity that will both psychologically and physically torment and torture them before killing and eating them, or, better yet, eating and killing them, now that’s a good time—for me, and hopefully, for my readers.

When I write I seek that transcendent place where my fingers on the keyboard and the symbols on the screen vanish as the story unfolds in my mind like cinema of the grotesque, where the next image bobs to the surface like a bloated corpse on the dark lake or screams at me from the shadows like a howling banshee and my stomach lurches or I groan with disgust, then I know my fiction’s working. After all, how can I scare readers if I can’t scare myself?

The bottom line is simple: Writing is my addiction and horror is my drug of choice. Given the etymology of my given name – dweller by the dark stream – I have occasionally wondered about fate and destiny. I’ve embraced tales of the horrific since I was young. Having met scores of other horror writers, I’ve concluded that most of us are absurdly normal or at least not too abnormal. We’re not any stranger than other writers, it’s just that our imaginations are neither saccharine nor overly sanguine. And when we pose the what if questions, we usually find sardonic and disturbing answers.

For anyone interested, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of Moonslasher, my first novel and a minor bestseller. Soon I will be releasing it as an ebook, revised, reedited and updated. (I wrote in on an IBM Selectric, long before home computers were popular and the Internet, cell phones and other electronic gizmos.)

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