Michael A. Arnzen

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Michael A. Arnzen

Goodreads Author


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born
in Amityville, NY, The United States
gender
male

website

twitter username

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influences
Lance Olsen, Robert Bloch, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Bentley Little, ...more

member since
December 2007


About this author

Michael Arnzen has won multiple awards for his fiction, including four Bram Stoker Awards and the International Horror Guild Award. He teaches horror and suspense writing at Seton Hill University, as faculty in their unique MFA degree program in Writing Popular Fiction.

To catch up with Arnzen or hunt down collectable editions, visit the author's website, GORELETS.COM and sign up for his award-winning free newsletter, The Goreletter. Join him on your favrite social network via http://michaelarnzen.com

Also on LibraryThing:
http://www.librarything.com/profile/a...


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Michael A. Arnzen Great question, Sara, and it's hard to really answer in any simple way because a writer can make any number of choices, and one of them includes not…moreGreat question, Sara, and it's hard to really answer in any simple way because a writer can make any number of choices, and one of them includes not using the tropes and cliches whatsoever. Horror is fantasy, horror is violence, horror is absurd nightmare, and horror is evil. Those are abstractions, feelings, and actions, not tropes or cliches or even conventions, really, so much as human qualities. So as long as a writer is being honest to those elements, they're probably doing it right.

So my first answer is itself a cliche among writers: "write what you know." Be genuine about what scares you, what disturbs you, what freaks you the hell out. Sometimes writers use cliches or overly familiar character types because they are more infatuated with them than they find them frightening.

Being inventive with these things is precisely what a horror reader wants -- surprise is everything when it comes to the "unknown" and originality is everything in the fantastic -- so writers also work hard to undermine expectations. I have a list of techniques for "Making Modern Monsters" in the book Many Genres, One Craft, that might work as a cheat sheet for brainstorming new ways of representing fear, but truth be told sometimes the originality comes in the way something is written and represented, rather than content (it's not the vampire that's scary, it's the way its fangs puncture the skin). One technique is to spend time zooming in and detailing concretely the stuff people would normally want to look away from. Writing a prose scene of terror as if it were poetry, for instance, could also make it fresh and original. I think readers want to see us work the words in a clever way that no one else has done before, and appreciate our uniqueness as much as the standard archetypes of dread.(less)
Michael A. Arnzen I feel like a hypocrite saying this -- because I've abandoned novels halfway through them, having "cut my losses" -- but I feel one should take a…moreI feel like a hypocrite saying this -- because I've abandoned novels halfway through them, having "cut my losses" -- but I feel one should take a "never say die!" attitude to a project. Finish it, and if it doesn't sell, so be it. You will learn more from reaching the end of a journey than never taking the full trip.

However, I know the frustration. I think if the story has really gone off off the rails and rattled your confidence in what you're pursuing, then you should set the work aside for awhile and do something different and new to "clear the slate" before you start over again -- from a new novel to a short story or a poem. Anything to reset the creative engines. Otherwise, you'll begin to feel that frustration akin to struggling to untie a tight knot that just can't be opened up, fraying the ends of the rope but getting nowhere. Projects I've dropped and return to -- as a reader rather than a writer -- sometimes reveal themselves to be works of garbage that I laugh at in that "what was I thinking?" sort of way -- or otherwise works of genius in utero -- and the solutions begin to reveal themselves as I read and take notes about how to revise.

Another trick is to throw a wrench into the works and try to make it worse... this sometimes can lead to original ideas and magic solutions, too. Try my creative triggers at http://diaboliquestrategies.com or my ebook, Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side for some "spurs" if you haven't seen them yet. Best wishes, Andrew! You're not alone! -- Mike Arnzen(less)
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More books by Michael A. Arnzen…

My wife and I snuck away to Germany early in July to visit with family and old friends, and during our stay, we took a side trip to the former east to spend a few days in the city of Dresden. It’s a fantastic city, brimming with festive nightlife partying in the streets of the “neustadt” and overwhelming with architectural beauty and the high life of the “oldstadt.”


In the midst of it all, I had...

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Proverbs for Monsters (Horror)
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Description: Dark Humor. Excerpt from PROVERBS FOR MONSTERS (Dark Regions Press, 2007). First appeared in The Goreletter -- subscribe at http://www.gorelets.com
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More of Michael's books…
“Can you imagine life without the horror genre? There would be no monsters. Only a**holes.”
Michael A. Arnzen

“Goodreads.com is actually about fiction not dreading goo. But I have a profile there, anyway...”
Michael A. Arnzen

“Wouldn't it be surprising if a 911 caller actually did begin to describe the tragedy in alarming detail? And dwell on the details, swooning in their splendor?”
Michael A. Arnzen, Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side

Topics Mentioning This Author

topics posts views last activity  
Goodreads Librari...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Goodreads Author profiles needing merging BY GR STAFF pt. 7 958 663 Feb 05, 2014 11:51AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Charity's Reading Challenges 36 36 Jul 16, 2015 02:51PM  
“When the body escaped mutilation, seldom did the heart go to the grave unscarred.”
Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room

“Goodreads.com is actually about fiction not dreading goo. But I have a profile there, anyway...”
Michael A. Arnzen

“Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we're opened, we're red.”
Clive Barker, Books of Blood, Volumes One to Three

“Horror is the removal of masks.”
Robert Bloch

“Weren't we all crazy in our sleep? What was sleep, after all, but the process by which we dumped our insanity into a dark subconscious pit and came out on the other side ready to eat cereal instead of our neighbor's children?”
Jeff Lindsay, Darkly Dreaming Dexter

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Comments (showing 1-10)    post a comment »
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message 10: by Rusty

Rusty Nugent Hello There, I just wanted to let you know that my horror/dark fantasy book, Moonwarriors is a giveaway book on goodreads and here's a link so you can add yourself to win it. It's out of print and this book is NEW. So, it is worth $120 on Amazon. Good Luck. :)
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/sh...


message 9: by Rusty

Rusty Nugent Thanks for your friendship. Come by and leave a comment.

Until next time . . .


Michelle Thank you for the friend request.


Hilary Thank you kindly for the add! It's always great getting to know a fellow horror enthusiast.


message 6: by Steve

Steve Thanks man, just starting out on this site so hopefully more to follow. I had mainly only done film reviews before.


message 5: by CELIA

CELIA Hey, Michael! Nice to "meet" you. My husband is the big horror fan in the family, and he goes to IAFA all the time. He teaches horror, literature. Although he doesn't keep up his Goodreads site much, I will ask him to contact you (his name is Rafael Miguel Montes). I can't believe you get to teach pop CRW. I was just thinking the other day that someone REALLY needed to do that!


message 4: by K.K.

K.K. Hot Damn! Michael ARmaggeddon HIMSELF on GOOD READS! Thanks for the add! I look forward to reading more of your work!
Beast Witches, K.K.


Louise Hello Michael,

Thank you for friending me. :)

Best Wishes,

Louise


Jeremy Hi Michael!

Here’s wishing you a yippee-filled Yuletime overflowing with yard-long yams, yapping yoyo-yanking yetis, yak-milk yeast-cakes, and yellow yarn-yielding year-end yard-gnomes.

-Jeremy :)


Jeremy Howdy Michael!

Here’s wishing you a fantastic day filled with fabulous fates, fanciful festivities, and frolicking phantom footstools.

-Jeremy :)


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