After finishing The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman a few weeks ago, I read the acknowledgements wherein he says that Amanda, his wife (AND MY PERSONAL HERO), was really the first reader/critic/editor because he read the chapters out loud to her before they went to bed. This, in turn, helped shape the novel, turning it into the heartbreaking and melancholic work of brilliance that it is.
I talked to my fiance (soon to be husband) Adam and told him that same story and asked if he wanted me to do the same thing for him. Since I’m always in need of people to bounce ideas off of and want to hear feedback, I thought it an exceptional opportunity to get almost immediate criticism which would, hopefully, allow my works to become breath-taking tales of nostalgia and childhood trauma, until I realized that I’m, at my core, a horror writer. I may dress it up in sci-fi, in fantasy, in speculation, but everything is always a little dark, a little horrific and a little disturbing. My dialogue goes on for pages. My descriptions can sometimes — without someone to help me reign them in — get a little Nathaniel Hawthorne-y. I use really big words that I’m not even sure how to pronounce.
I read horror novels — here’s lookin’ at chu, The Terror — IN ORDER TO GO TO SLEEP. Not everyone does, I realize.
Adam, wisely, declined.
Plus, have you heard that guy read? Sugar. No wonder people want to hear his novels before bedtime.