- It is my pleasure to bring you a guest post from a very talented author. Please enjoy his thoughts and take a moment to visit him on-line.
Farewell to Horror
Writers are often asked where we get our ideas from and we don’t like to confess, I think, that underneath the surface we don’t actually have a lot of them in the first place. That might sound strange but what I mean is that part of becoming a writer usually means identifying a singular idea, concept or theme that will become the fulcrum of who you are as a creative artist. Years and years will then be spent finding different ways of expressing this One Idea. In today’s blog what I am going to be talking about is the catalyst for my One Idea in the horror genre. It is a book entitled This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski.
Tadeusz Borowski was a poet and writer of Polish literature and his most acclaimed work was inspired by his time spent in Auschwitz during the Second World War. These stories were collected together as This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen or, to give it the original Polish title, Farewell to Maria. When it was published it was condemned for portrayal of a ‘world of stone’ that lacked heroism and was accused of being amoral and nihilistic. Borowski committed suicide at the age of 28.
I read it for the first time back in 2002 when I was going through a lengthy phase of reading Holocaust literature. Something about this book resonated with me more so than anything else I had read up to that time. In his fictionalised account of his experiences, I found Tadeusz Borowski expressing a view of the world that I could identify with. Existence as a series of tedious and repetitious acts. Evil’s mundane nature revealed in its everyday familiarity rather than being a rare form of aberration. The world as a kind of concentration camp into which people are steadily indoctrinated until they become perfectly willing collaborators in their own destruction and the genocide of others. It’s a cold book that treats the reader to an unflinching glimpse of reality.
A world of stone indeed.
During the long process of writing The Thing Behind the Door, though I didn’t realise it at the time, I think I was unconsciously seeking to distil what Borowski expressed in This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen and then filter it through my own experiences of late 20th to early 21st century society. The Thing Behind the Door crystallised much that I had been trying to say through the medium of the horror genre up to that time.
It was the best expression so far of my One Idea.
For the conclusions I reached and the sentence I meted out, well, you will have to open the door and see what is waiting behind it.
- G.R. Yeates is the critically-acclaimed author of The Vetala Cycle – a historical horror series set during WWI that combines vampire folklore with cosmicism. His work has appeared in anthologies published by Dark Continents Publishing, Cutting Block Press & Static Movement.
He was born in Essex, England and was brought up in seaside towns along the South-East coast. He studied English Literature and Media at university before spending a year in China teaching English as a foreign language. He moved to London in 2002 and has lived there for the last decade working in a number of different jobs and training as a singer before self-publishing his debut novel in 2011. You can find out more about G.R. Yeates at his website here
- You can also find his work in this anthology of Great British Horror.