Today’s guest post comes from the satirical G.C. McKay, author of the anthology Sauced up, Scarred and at Sleaze and his recently released novel, Fubar. G.C. is one of my favorite writer friends because he always pushes limits and questions the status quo. Plus, he manages to be totally irreverent and profound at the same time. The following is his take on the writing “rules” for transgressive fiction authors.
Transgressive fiction gets a pretty raw deal. In fact, it gets the same treatment by the world we live in as its characters often do inside their stories. This is probably to be expected, as the themes it explores are normally on the, shall we say, darker side of the human spectrum. Whilst we can argue till our faces turn blue (sexual-innuendo obviously implied) about what actually defines transgressive fiction, I’d venture to guess that we can all agree that it… unnerves us, as Lauren Sapala so adequately put it in her post Why are so Many Writers Afraid of Transgressive Fiction?
On that note, here are seven sin-ridden writing tips to keep in mind when your gunk-filled fingernails sit poised over the keyboard:
West Is San Francisco is the sequel to my gritty addiction memoir Between the Shadow and Lo. It’s weird, it’s dark, and it covers the first four years I spent in San Francisco working for a private detective, getting sober, and finally almost losing my mind to a cult-like startup and its sociopathic founder.
If you’re into transgressive fiction, autofiction, memoirs on alcoholism, or anything to do with narcissistic abuse, extreme codependency and/or fucked up toxic relationships, you’ll probably like it. You can now get it on Amazon in paperback or ebook.
I got an email from a writer the other day asking about transgressive fiction. She had seen my previous article, What It’s Like to Be a Female Author Who Writes Transgressive Fiction, and she was curious about a couple of things. Number one, she wanted to know how I fueled my ideas to write in this genre, and two, she wanted to know how I handled the reactions of my friends and family members. In particular, did any of my friends and family think I was just writing about my “twisted fantasies”?
The first book I ever wrote was ugly as hell. It was raw, disgusting, weird, and twisted. In fact, when I first started writing it I didn’t even know what it was. I thought maybe it was a memoir, because it was all about a certain period in my life, but I could also see that it was so fragmented and exaggerated in places that thinking of it as an actual linear story was quite a stretch, even for my imagination.
I worked on it every week for two years but I kept it a secret. I hid the pages I wrote in a locked desk drawer and never looked at them. I was too embarrassed, and ashamed. I knew the writing was bad, that was one thing, but I also didn’t want to look at the demons that were showing up. I didn’t want to know what those demons were trying to tell me.
Every time I tell someone I write transgressive fiction the first question I get is, “What’s transgressive fiction?” If we’re talking in person, I explain it as best I can (usually not very well). But if we’re emailing I send them the definition cut and pasted from Wikipedia:
Transgressive fiction is a genre of literature which focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual or illicit ways.
Because they are rebelling against the basic norms of society, protagonists of transgressive fiction may seem mentally ill, anti-social, or nihilistic. The genre deals extensively with taboo subject matters such as drugs, sexual activity, violence, incest, pedophilia, and crime.
That definition is actually a very good one. It definitely covers all the bases. However, every time I send it to someone to explain the kind of fiction I write, I feel weird.