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Truth is also more horrifying than fiction

February 26, 2011

I write Marxist horror. I’m sure you’re all wondering what exactly that means. It’s loaded with a lot of baggage, depending on what each of you as readers think about the world and literature. But for those who don’t know me, I am the red under the bed…with a pen and I call myself a ‘Marxist horror writer.’ I come bearing stories, occasional questions and rambling thoughts, but firstly I’d like to introduce myself by explaining how I came to call myself a ‘Marxist horror writer’ and why.

Like a lot of others who’ve introduced themselves, I started writing at a young age, well before I knew anything about politics or Marxism or the outside world. I did like horror though. It all started with the Goosebumps books and some attempts at writing similar stories, about potatoes that ate humans and clowns. I love clown horror. Between there and high school there was a bit of a hiatus, but after some encouragement from an English teacher, picking up some Stephen King inspired a whole new era of writing stories and I haven’t looked back.

But at the same time as I was writing gory horror stories, I was switching on the nightly news, opening up history books and looking more at the way the world worked around me. I was horrified at the way Australia treated (and still does treat) refugees, I was disturbed by whole countries being flattened by foreign forces invading in what seems like never-ending war, and I was scared at following the path it seemed paved for me where I would spend most of my life working for someone else and not being able to what I really wanted to do: write.

At first, I thought the fiction and the political ideas were separate, then I thought they were a contradiction, until finally I realised I could not separate them. Eventually I came to embrace the link between horror and politics. It makes sense now. Some of the things we’re faced with in the world, some of the things you see on the nightly news are far scarier than anything Stephen King could write. Truth is stranger than fiction, but it can also be more horrifying than fiction.

And it comes back to why I keep writing: because I have something to say. I’m not sure I’d still be writing today if I was just telling tales for the sake of telling tales. That can be fun, but only to a point. What do you really want to tell people? What emotion or sensation do you want to convey to people? Fiction is really powerful at getting things across.

I could give a speech, write an article, scream into a megaphone to get across a message, but fiction allows me to do that at a totally different level, an emotional and personal level. You can tell the story of a refugee, convey what emotions someone might go through when they get fired or lose a loved one at war.

There is power in those stories and I want to tell them; I just happen to tell these types of stories through horror or at least dark fiction. It doesn’t have to be so serious all the time either. Writing is still fun for me, can let me explore issues in a new way, such as turning my boss into a vampire.

I’m pretty sure I’m the only ‘Marxist horror writer’ not only here at Write Anything, but anywhere. I like to think I bring a certain uniqueness to the table, as well as someone who likes to wear his heart on his sleeve. Perhaps I can teach you something, but I hope to learn as well.

profileBenjamin looks forward to writing witty bios at the bottom of his posts. You can follow his progress as the world’s only ‘Marxist horror writer’ by visiting his blog, Blood and Barricades where he also writes on the writing process, publishing, eBooks, Australian and world politics, literature and film and occasionally posts fiction or poetry.

  1. Jason Coggins permalink
    February 26, 2011 5:31 pm

    Fate has washed me up in the same town as Ben and I can vouch he is the real deal. Excellent intro Ben but I wish you’d shared your Big Brother story … when you told me that tale and how it inspired you it blew me away!

  2. Zoraida Cabrera permalink
    February 26, 2011 7:00 pm

    I agree, reality can be scarier than fiction a lot of times.
    Nice intro.

  3. February 26, 2011 11:34 pm

    For those who are interested, I was inspired to get involved in political activism, specifically around the issue of refugees thanks to, yes, Big Brother. As vacuous as that show can be, there was one housemate, Merlin Luck, in season 2 I think of the Australian series that used his eviction to protest the Australian government’s policy of mandatorily detaining asylum seekers.

    Upon his exit, he walked down the runway to the stage and pulled something from under his shirt: some gaffa tape and a small banner that read ‘Free the refuge s’ (one of the Es fell off) and he taped his mouth with the tape and sat throughout the whole show silent, staring at the audience. I thought it was pretty cool and whilst having decided a few months before that that I was pro-refugee, I hadn’t considered until that moment the idea of going out and protesting against it. I met Merlin at the next rally, told him about why I was there, and from there have been going to rallies for years and now involved in organising them.

    Thanks Zoraida

  4. March 5, 2011 2:29 am

    I couldn’t imagine your political engagement being separated from your writing. They’re both an integral part of what you are. I may not always agree with your politics but I found your stories challenging and engaging with the real world. Keep going.

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