Writing within one particular genre has always been restrictive, difficult and a bit frustrating. Just the idea of being trapped in the magical realms of the young adult universe might make me spontaneously combust. This is not to say that I do not enjoy or respect young adult or single-genre fiction. What I am saying is that adhering to a plot formula that is tried and true and fits easily on the consumer shelves in familiar categories is certainly the smart thing for a writer to do today, but I prefer, and usually do not have a choice as my process can be uncompromising, to mix genres and various literary elements and see what comes out of the oven. To me, taking a risk and breaking rules and boundaries is the thrill of writing. Giving words their own life—not directing them toward maximum sales potential—is what imaginations are for. The idea of hybrid anything has always been appealing to me and writing is no exception. Under the House, my first novel about an old widow and an eager young intern who must take down a gifted serial killer, wraps horror, mystery and fantasy into one thrilling ride. Benny, Resurrection, the story of an imaginary friend who comes back to life to punish the world of angry, misguided, misfit adults, blends science fiction, dark fantasy, mystery, horror, historical and apocalyptic elements into a diverse fictive landscape. Access Universe, my latest novel set to be released next year, is no exception. My third novel drifts away from fantasy and horror to blend mystery and science fiction into a relevant techno-psychological thriller.
A writer who has developed and maintained excellence in hybrid or cross-genre fiction is Clive Barker, one of my favorites—a mentor really, though I have never met the man. Mr. Barker, more so than any other contemporary author, showed me that a fantasy novel could also be horror, mystery, sci-fi and literature all rolled into one. Weaveworld was the first thing I read by Barker, and it (he) really rocked my writing world. Weaveworld helped lay the foundation for what I write today. To read such lush prose in a fantasy novel juxtaposed beside some of the most outrageous, terrifying, perverted and stunning themes, imagery and settings all writhing within a mystery-horror context thriving inside a carpet was both liberating and promising. Even Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley, central pillars of my mythology as well as pioneers of cross-genre fiction, did not slap me as hard as Barker. And while I must admit that if not for Poe and Shelley the chance of Barker and myself ever dreaming such dreams or finding the audacity to pick up the pen and say, “what if…” would not have been possible, it was Barker, in a contemporary world that blindly embraces the commoditization and often simplistic over-categorization of art, who showed me another way.
So when you read R.S. Hill, expect the unexpected, the kitchen sink and then some…