Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ALAN CASS: Writing the Paranormal

When first asked to provide a piece of writing on the subject of the paranormal, or supernatural as I prefer to call it, I approached it with some trepidation. I mean really, where do you begin on such a subject? The very subject of life after death is one with which everybody has a personal belief, after all - it’s something which we’ll all care about one day whether we like it or not, in our final few moments (as long as we’re afforded the courtesy) there won’t be many who don’t wonder ‘What now?’ So on that note, I’ll begin.

There can be few of us who’ve crossed the fine line between life and death, and lived to tell the tale…it’s a paradox of possibilities. So with that in mind, surely there is the possibility that something more is out there: maybe…just maybe, we can dream awhile. Use your god given imagination if you dare, that’s what it’s there for after all. And as writers, isn’t our imagination our bread and butter? Are the boxes at the very back of the mind those which we writers choose to open? The boxes most people deem too dangerous to explore? The boxes that lead to some pretty big earth shattering questions about ourselves and the world we live in? I believe whole heartedly that one of them will be marked, ‘life after death - urban legend or reality?’

So now you’ve entered the what if phase, and since you’re a writer, you’ve engaged that god given imagination of yours: here’s where the cross over takes place, an amalgamation of myth versus reality, and the mind. When I began writing my novel, and I promise you no plugs here, I thought to myself long and hard: I figured that if I were going to embark on a journey, (of self discovery in fact) and were I going to throw myself vigorously into a project that I would complete, then quite simply the subject matter had to have been one with which I have a genuine interest. Ergo, the supernatural. I choose to write about the supernatural as it’s such a diverse topic, you can really open those aforementioned boxes and let your imagination run riot. If the full moon intrigues you, then Werewolves really do exist. If mirrors bearing no reflection excite you, then Vampires exist…this is your imagination we’re talking about, remember? The opportunities are limitless, as is your imagination…as long as you open those boxes.

With that being said, I’ll take this opportunity to return you to the box marked ‘life after death - urban legend or reality.’ We’ve covered the legends, now let’s explore reality: after all, that’s where the real shocks usually await us. I’d like to steer every last one of you away from fantasy as much as possible, you’ve got your story in your mind and you’re ready to go: here’s the deal. Fantasy is the reader’s role. Reality is yours. The tension is over and done with, and the moment lost once your Werewolf or Vampire…lurks menacingly from the darkness. The real fear exists in the terrified school girl who knows (choose your poison) she’s about to be it’s victim, that’s where you make it as real as gassing up the car…or for that matter, taking in the full moon - they don’t exist right? So what’s the problem? Oh right I forgot, your imagination is now telling you they do! Of course it is! Put yourself in the right situation, or wrong as the case may be, and anything really is possible.

Urban legend…or reality…I know which one I fear more. Sweet dreams!

Alan Cass is the author of a supernatural thriller, My Name Is Death. Visit him online at


  1. The boxes in the back of your mind analogy brought a visual of Stephen King's Dreamcathcer. The movie visual/version where there was a locked room in the mind with all the memories, fears, etc were housed in marked boxes. :) Nice post!

  2. I’ll immediately grab your rss feed as I can not find your email subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.