Here in the Library we’re not just interested in horror stories, we’re interested in how horror stories are discovered, consumed and disseminated, and how those three things are evolving as we progress further and further into the 21st century.
After all, horror stories have been with us since the dawn of man and will likely stay with us all the way through to the end times, it’s just how we share them that has changed. This first installment of 5 FOR FRIGHTENING looks at one of the very modern ways horror authors are making money from their work and getting their words out there to tens of thousands of readers. And how original horror fiction in 2016 is being used to elevate and promote other horror properties in other mediums.
Meet Lindsey Clarke, one of the writers tapped by online writing community Wattpad.com to write spooky tie-in tales for major motion picture releases from Hollywood studios such as Universal and the A&E television network. She takes us behind the scenes of being a horror gun for hire.
How did you get involved in writing promotional horror stories for Hollywood films for wattpad.com?
I was asked to join the original Wattpad Stars program a couple of years ago, back then known as the Wattpad Partner Program, which is an initiative designed to offer opportunities to Wattpad writers, connecting them with well-known brands and giving them the chance to earn money for their work. Initially I was asked to write a story inspired by the television series The Returned commissioned by the A&E Network and have since gone on to complete two further projects, both commissioned by Universal Pictures.
Generally, what sort of story direction or instructions are you given prior to writing?
The brief is usually pretty much that – brief! They need to connect it to the brand in some way, so depending on what exactly is being promoted, whether that’s a movie or a TV program, you’ll be asked to ensure your story meets their basic criteria. For instance, in the case of my most recent project, Between Screams and Silence, which was inspired by the new Ouija movie Ouija: Origin of Evil, I was asked to write a story set in the 1960s (because that’s the period in which the film is set), it had to include a Ouija board and it also had to be an ‘origin’ story about an existing character from one of my Wattpad stories. Sounds easy, right?
How much creative freedom are you allowed in these “work-for-hire”-style tales?
To be honest, I’ve never really had any problems when it comes to taking the story where I want it to go. I must admit, there’s been times when I’ve been concerned that I might be overstepping the boundaries with certain things in my stories, because when it comes to writing horror, there’s not a great deal I tend to shy away from, but you have to appreciate that 1) the brand might not want to take it that far and 2) with Wattpad you’re dealing with a predominantly young audience so sometimes you might have to be age-sensitive about content. Fortunately for me, I’ve worked with two brands so far, A&E Network and Universal Pictures, who have both been very supportive of all my ideas and I’ve definitely enjoyed the opportunity to be as creative as I want to be.
Can you tell us a little more about Between Screams and Silence and how it’s being rolled out on the site?
Between Screams and Silence is the origin story, or prequel if you like, for another of my brand projects, a short story called The Whispering of Bitter Creek. This story focuses on former prom queen and now wife of Rheemus, Kathleen-Anne Jones (Grandma from Bitter Creek). Following the difficult and traumatic birth of her daughter, Brenda, Kathleen-Anne falls quickly into post-natal depression as she struggles to cope with her new life as a mother. Desperate to put some life back into the wife he adores, husband Rheemus suggests she takes some time out with her friends and Kathleen-Anne finds herself at the home of Barbara Arden, the town medium, who’s also rumoured to be nothing but a charlatan. As they sit down at the Ouija board and the lights begin to flicker, Kathleen-Anne soon discovers that not only is Barbara definitely not a charlatan, but that sometimes when you call over spirits from the other side, some of them just don’t want to go back. If you like the idea of a story involving demonic possession, maggot-infested crows and dolls heads drowning in blood, then this one might just be for you! The story was posted via the @ouijamovie profile, usually 2-3 chapters at a time over the course of 2 weeks leading up to the release of the movie on the 21st of October. It’ll remain there now permanently, so still plenty of opportunity to check it out!
You just wrapped up your very successful and popular Whitechapel Chronicles on Wattpad. What are your future plans for the series and what are you writing next?
Well, funnily enough, after finishing The Whitechapel Chronicles, I hadn’t actually planned on jumping into another writing project quite so soon, but the chance to work with Universal again wasn’t something I could turn down! But I am currently editing the first installment of The Whitechapel Chronicles with a view to self-publishing next year, something which has been a long time coming. I’m also starting to plan my next novel, a gritty urban fantasy standalone based around the underground club scene and drug culture – you know, practically all Disney stuff!