Classic Horror fans may recall a moment in Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, when Van Helsing lops off vampire Lucy‘s head, CUTS TO him slicing a bloody joint of roast beef on a tavern table. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder, it’s one of the best ever moments in movie horror that explores aspects of flesh – raw or cooked, ripped or shredded, bloody or drained. As sentient flesh ourselves, naturally we’re sensitive to these kinds of connections.
Don’t Look Now
You’ll have your own motives for reading or writing Horror. Universally shared reasons include awareness of our own fragile mortality, and ultimately, fear that we might have to confront the predator. We are hard-wired to weigh the odds of our survival. Also, we’re fascinated. We don’t want to look, but we can’t resist. This is how Stephen King draws us in. Often, he shows us what a character sees before we (through the character’s eyes) understand it.
I Can’t Unsee That
So Horror, better to live it vicariously through various media than to experience it directly and come out worse for wear, or not at all. It’s an opportunity for us to process stuff, and most writers have a specific personal incentive for writing a horror story. That connection between the images of Lucy’s bloody rolling head (Mina’s best friend, a character we’d bonded with earlier in the story) and the oozing roast beef has stayed with me for years.
In the Notes For Writers on the Twisted50 site, the editorial team encourages writers to dig deeper in themselves to produce more than one story. They say, “We learned in past books that most writers have a ‘second’ and more personal story that is usually better.” I actually entered three. Follow the advice and start writing, they advixe. I find my best work comes from contests like these, prompts and writing to a brief. Make it personal. We can all relate to your problem, and in that way, the personal becomes the universal.
The Knee-Bone is connected to the…
How did Roasted come about? I have a thing about organic joints, see? Bone connected by gristle and sinew, and fed by blood, especially thigh joints. Roast meats – turkey, chicken, lamb. A joint of lamb. Think about it. Euuw. It doesn’t help that I recently had hip replacement surgery. This is the posh name for a procedure whereby the surgeon relines the socket in your hipbone (to replace worn cartilage) and drives a post topped by a new ball joint into your femur. To do that, they have to pull your leg off and… Well, never mind, you can look it up on YouTube. Thank god for modern anesthesia. Although my hip is now fixed and mercifully pain-free, every time I see an exposed knuckle of roast bird (cooked or raw, ugh), I can’t help making these associations. I’m obsessed with it.
Why my obsession?
Let’s dig deeper. It’s because emotionally I want to be vegetarian, and I’m ambivalent about roast meat. Like poor Simon in the story, however beautifully the turkey is dressed when it shows up for dinner, I can’t help thinking about… you fill in the gaps. But add omigod gravy, and I can’t give it up either. When I started this story I knew it would be about Simon’s obsession with raw meat, thighs and joints, for all my wrong reasons, and my inability to shake the memory of Francis Ford Coppola’s shots. A picture (or two) is worth a thousand words, by coincidence, our limit for this anthology. Coppola knew exactly what he was doing, and I knew one day I would have to work out my visceral (ha) reaction to it on the page.
Sorry if I put people off their Christmas dinner. #sorrynotsorry