Being a Science Fiction fan, I grew up on reruns of Star Trek, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and Twilight Zone, just to name a few. Probably the most memorable Twilight Zone episode is the one with William Shatner and the monster on the wing. I couldn’t help it; I put a nod to that in my last novel.
But one of things I really like is the behind the scenes of how shows were made. The stories behind the creations.
Twilight Zone originated from Rod Serling’s war experiences and his way of dealing with it in the story:
While taking a picture with a friend during a lull at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Pacific, an Air Force plane dropped a box of extra ammunition that landed on Serling’s friend and flattened him fatally. This event would give him inspiration in many of his scripts and stories.
I remember when I came back from Desert Storm. It was such a big experience that really, I couldn’t put words to it. I felt like I needed to bleed off some of the poison of it but my stories turned very dark. The weird part was that I couldn’t see how dark they were … took someone else to point it out to me.
Though I still couldn’t see it.
About the same time, I did a review of Phil Clay’s Redeployment, a collection of short stories. I’d committed to the review, opened up the first page, read the first line, and wasn’t sure I could do it. I didn’t want to go back and say I couldn’t do it, so I skipped to the next story, which was less dark and read it in pieces. I doubt if many people read the entire book because it was so dark.
But I could see the undercurrent of this anger running through the book–I doubt if the writer knows he has it, but he will eventually. It was in mine, and I had to back away from it if I wanted to sell anything.
So I had to consciously shift away from dark stories, and even ideas that looked like they were going to veer dark. I don’t have to think so much about it now, though every now and then it catches me off guard.
And I still write about my time in the military, but it’s very different.