Archive for November, 2016

As some of you may recall, I recently talked at a couple schools about writing. It started out innocently enough, just volunteering at my daughter’s school as part of their readathon and helping out a friend teaching Technical Writing for the first year. Then a teacher with whom I often share the zumba dance floor heard about it and asked if I would speak to her class too.

I agreed, of course, thinking talking to another high school class would be easy. Especially talking about horror writing versus technical writing. The middle school aged group had gone so well, been so engaged and fun, that I was willing to try again. Plus my editor always insists that any promotion or publicity is good. After all, I thought it was just one more class.

Oh, no. No no no.

At some point between the request and fulfilment, it became like a real thing. By the time we were finalizing details, I was slated to speak in an auditorium all seven periods of the day, talking to 29 classes totalling about 900 students.

Insert my utter panic.

I am not entirely sure why I was so intimidated. I definitely do not enjoy public speaking; I do not have any particular talent for it. It makes me nervous to stand up in front of a group but nothing close to anxiety. I got over it every time I had to stand up in front of soldiers to train them, even when I had no idea what I was talking about.

The auditorium, the size of the audience, and the multiple speeches surely upped the ante, but as scary as they could be, these were all good things.

So, like a true writer, I gooogled the word count I needed for a thirty minute speech, and I wrote the entire thing out. I showed up at the high school, my nerves vibrating under my skin, with my entire speech printed. I even wrote it in my speaking voice rather than my writing voice (because they are very different).

The teachers were overwhelmingly welcoming. They were genuinely excited to have me there and have me speaking, and that felt amazing. I began to tell myself I could do this; I was going to do this. Under my nerves, I knew the itching anxious feeling was normal, part of it that would pass.

It was intimidating up on that stage, under those lights. My husband mocked me beforehand, saying I could not possibly be jittered over talking to some high schoolers when I have belly danced in front of hundreds of people over the years. Speaking has always just been so different from dance, a different part of the brain and my emotions. Plus, I think I am better at dancing than public speaking (it would not be hard).

That first period was rough. I clung to my printed speech like my life depended on it. I awkwardly paced the stage like a sedated jungle cat. I lived for the cough drop keeping my ill throat lubricated.

img_5688

But I made it.

I kept my speech rather basic. I introduced myself, explained I was a horror writer there to talk about writing. I started with how I was inspired to write in elementary school and sort of chronologically walked through my writing career. At this point, I could see the gaping yawns and bobbling heads.

Then my speech took a hard turn. I pulled out my battle with depression, my failed suicide attempt, my bipolar diagnosis, How to Kill Yourself Slowly. Then I suddenly had their attention. I could almost gauge the shock when my narrative changed–sort of, did she really just say that? Is she really talking about that?

I cannot tell my writing journey without including those aspects. My writing, my work does not exist without my broken brain that produces it or my unsavory life experiences that have shaped it. It would feel inauthentic for me to leave it out and speak about my books sterilely.

So I poured out my black, little heart all over the auditorium stage, and I talked to these high schoolers the same as I would to anyone else (minus the normal slathering of curse words and a few punches pulled to stay in bounds on hot topics like suicide). To my mind, if I could decide to try to kill myself at 12, how could I talk to them like children who had never experienced anything? Age 17 was the most formative in my life, and that is right where they are right now. It had to be the raw honesty.

After that chunk, I continued on my little story of being published and being an author as a side job, all the basics of my books and what they involve. Then I opened it up for questions.

img_5687

Q&A is my favorite part. I enjoy the questions; I do far better with them than giving a speech. The interaction keeps me out of my own head. The kids were really fun to chat with. They asked me a range of questions, from the canned questions their teachers expected reports on to just random things like my favorite color or favorite Walking Dead character (Negan, currently). They asked about my family, my kids reading my horror writing, why I would write if it didn’t make money, all the things I might write in the future.

After many sessions, I had kids come up and talk to me one-on-one. Some wanted to talk about their writing or being sent to the counseling center for it (been there!). Some wanted to talk about their favorite book franchise. Some just wanted to talk.

I think I got better and better with each delivery of the speech. I at least became less dependant on my notes. Though it was just utterly exhausting. By the last two periods, I was giving my speech while sitting on the steps to the stage. Maybe not very professional but it is what I needed. I do not know how teachers do it.

Overall, I think it went really well. I ended up enjoying the experience completely. The teachers were awesome to work with. The kids were fun to interact with. It was surreal to walk the halls and have them whisper about who I was as I passed. The pseudo celebrity experience is still just strange for me. Mostly fun though.

I think I started to forget that getting published really means something. It has been two years, nearly exactly, since Savages was released. It took me months to come to happy terms with the fact that it actually happened, that the dream had come true. Yet in those two years, I have become complacent with my new reality, writing and promoting every day, comparing myself to every blindingly successful author. This experience reminded me that it is something, that it does matter. Even if just to me, it matters.

It is also awkward for me to consider myself now a public speaker, talking to kids about anything. Part of me wonders if I have anything worthy to say to an audience, the same part of me that wonders if I have any writing worth publishing. Yet I keep writing, so I will keep doing this as well, as long as I am invited.

I have already been invited back to this school, and ultimately, if my silly little talk inspires one kid to write or deal better with being depressed or anything, I will happily continue to do it for free. And if it helps me sell books, all the better.

 

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

Advertisements

This October, a friend on Twitter invited me to participate in #31DaysofHorror, in which you strive to watch one horror movie each day. Initially, I thought I would participate here and there, as I could. I should have known better. Once I started, I became obsessive as I always do. After the Nightmare on Elm Street in theater marathon added 7 movies to my total in one night, I decided to go for 50 movies in the month of October.

banner

And I got to 51.

Honestly, it was a blast. It was a lot of horror. Daunting at times, mind eroding at others. Yet ultimately, it was fun to indulge in so much of the holiday horror spirit and be able to share it with plenty of awesome people online. My poor, little mind may never recover, but I will definitely be doing it again next year. Probably even harder, if I know myself at all.

So I give you my 51 movies of horror in October. Happy Halloween!

 

 1_wyrmwood Wyrmwood

A bunch of interesting ideas that lacked the execution to really make them work. I wanted to like it, but it needed more development and polishing.

 2-cabininthewoods Cabin in the Woods

One of my favorite horror movies. A refreshing spin on horror lore, archetypes, and the genre in general.

 3-wearestillhere We are Still Here

Simplistic, well executed horror. A well balanced and creepy haunting story.

 4-28dayslater 28 Days Later

A movie that changed the zombie genre. Always amazing.

 5-28weekslater 28 Weeks Later

The overproduced and Americanized sequel that pales in comparison to its predecessor. Fine movie, disappointing sequel.

 6_ghostsofmars Ghosts of Mars

Bad, just so very bad. But I do love John Carpenter. And Ice Cube.

 7_headless Headless

We found this movie on a list of most disturbing horror. It was definitely graphic and gross and depraved–but all with purpose. I really enjoyed it.

 8_humancentipede2 Human Centipede 2

More graphic,  more twisted, and more disturbing than its predecessor. Who knew it was possible? Yet still well done.

 9_humancentipede3 Human Centipede 3

What. The. Fuck. The franchise completely went off the rails into ridiculous and just awful.

 10_whatwedointheshadows What We Do in the Shadows

Interview with the Vampire meets The Real World. Just hysterical and wonderful.

 11_yourenext You’re Next

One of my favorite newer horror movies. So well done and all about the survivor.

 12_thepurgeelectionyear The Purge: Election Year

Perfect watch for this election year. Chock full of social commentary and blood.

 13_letmein Let Me In

Potentially my favorite remake. I adore Let the Right One In, and this one manages to live up to it.

 14_thefog The Fog

Creepy and classic.

 15_vhs V/H/S

A very clever horror anthology that made me nauseous. With the shaky cam filming rather than the content.

 16_finalgirls The Final Girls

A horror comedy I have loved since first seeing it at The Stanley Film Festival.

 17_hanselandgretel Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

I was very skeptical of this selection but found it gory and very fun.

 18_nightmare A Nightmare on Elm Street

Just as brilliant as it is classic. This one may contain my favorite death scene in ALL of horror.

 19_freddy2 A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

The homoerotic sequel that does not make a whole lot of sense.

 20_freddy3 A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

The second best in the franchise; the sequel that should have followed the first.

 21_freddy4 A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Eh. An acceptable chapter.

 22_freddy5 A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

Terrible. Just TERRIBLE. I only watched it because it was in the theater in the middle of the marathon. I would have napped through if I didn’t have so many Monsters.

 23_freddy6 Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

The humor is on point, and Freddy is awesome, but the rest of the movie was just crap.

 24_freddy7 New Nightmare

I am utterly torn on this one. I love when horror makes fun of itself, and the premise is clever. Plus a great cast reunion! Yet I hate what they did to Freddy when he leaves the screen.

 25_freddyvjason Freddy vs Jason

A great Freddy movie. Just fun.

 26_feast Feast

Funny and creepy and gross but enjoyable.

 27_inthemouthofmadness In the Mouth of Madness

Amazing. Required for both horror fans and writers (like myself).

 28_theguest The Guest

Unnerving and well balanced. A perfect blend of suspense.

 29_vhs2 V/H/S 2

The entries in this anthology might be inferior to the first collection, but the filming did not make me sick, which made it easier for me to participate and enjoy.

 30_evildead2 Evil Dead 2

When the franchise really embraced itself.

 31_armyofdarkness Army of Darkness

A little bit of ridiculous fun with the undead.

 32_dragmetohell Drag Me to Hell

Campy and gross. Very fun.

 33_americanmary American Mary

Sexy horror and depraved fetish. Basically, me in a nutshell. One of my very favorite movies.

 34_otis Otis

Funny and twisted. When revenge becomes a family affair.

 35_talesofhalloween Tales of Halloween

Not the best Halloween anthology I have seen (clue: it’s Trick r Treat) but still a festive watch.

 36_deadsnow Dead Snow

Nazi zombies. Nazi. Zombies! So good.

 37_vhsviral V/H/S Viral

I hated the final chapter in the franchise. It’s like the filmmakers got financing and did not know what to do with it.

 38_halloween Halloween

The Halloween classic that started it all.

 39_halloween2 Halloween II

A direct continuation of the first.

 40_halloweenh20 Halloween H20

The third and only other entry I recognize in the Halloween franchise. I love watching Laurie decide to face her demons.

 41_candyman Candyman

Clever twists on the haunting convention.

 42_leslievernon Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Absolutely brilliant horror comedy that comes after every horror convention and archetype.

 43_theconjuring The Conjuring

As my husband always says, creepy as balls. And balls can be pretty creepy.

 44_thereanimator The Re-Animator

The B-rated Lovecraftian classic.

 45_scream Scream

My VERY first horror movie!

 46_scream2 Scream 2

I am still accepting that they killed Randy.

 47_scream3 Scream 3

I do like the jabs at horror and Hollywood, but really? What?

 48_scream4 Scream 4

My favorite of the sequels. I like the critique of nouveau horror and reboots.

 49_saw Saw

Another genre changer. Gritty and raw and original.

 50_silenceofthelambs The Silence of the Lambs

One of my favorite movies (not just horror). Hannibal Lecter is the best serial killer.

 51_trickrtreat Trick r Treat

THE Halloween movie. This film embodies everything I love about the holiday in one anthology. Our post trick-or-treating tradition.

What horror movies did you watch in October? Any Halloween traditions? What’s your favorite scary movie?

 

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com