As July approaches with the next Camp NaNoWriMo event, writers are getting ready for the daily writing sprees that will occur all across the world.
During this time I will be working heavily on ‘Silent Hill: Betrayal’ (SH:B). A concern has been creeping into my mind that, just as much as this novel is feverishly anticipated, there might be a lot of expectations from fans of the franchise about how this novel will portray itself and the series. After all, everyone who has loved Silent Hill has their own version of what the story presents, and so there is almost a sense of having to live up to numerous, various types of expectations. There are even different groups who believe different things and I believe that there have been many debates on it.
There are also those that have never heard of Silent Hill, or do not know what to expect.
So I am here to set the tone and atmosphere for what is to come. There are some things you should know about the SH:B novel beforehand.
1 ≅ Sensitive Material
I should probably not need to spell this out, but SH:B is very, very much a supernatural horror. It also plays very much on human fears and psychological terror. Even though I’ve toned it down a bit, since writing in harsh, gross, explicit manner that goes into overdose is really unnecessary. Those are best left for visual stories, like films and games.
Having said that, it does not mean that I do not illustrate that troubling scenes, with exploration into things of a violent and sexual nature. To describe it better, those who are used to this type of genre might be disappointed that my descriptions are not gory enough. Those that are not won’t make it through the first act without being disgusted or terrified. I’ve tried to find a happy medium in between where the story is more important than the gore or violence, but it’s all relative to what you have become accustomed to in life. My words in the novel will set the scene and its up to you how visual you decide to make it in your mind.
2 ≅ Original Story
Even though I got permission to write a story based in Silent Hill, it does not mean that I can now go and adapt any of the games or films into novel form. That was never my intention, as I believe the first three games already have been adapted.
My intention from the start was to write my own story. This means utilising the foundation that was created by the games and creating my own characters and plot therein. With the failure of any Silent Hill game to succeed Downpour so far, I would very much like to keep the story alive in the process. So while my story will follow everything that has happened so far, this will still be an entirely new tale. The story in the games will be a history lesson to my characters.
There are times where situations may seem reminiscent of some of the first Silent Hill games, but there is definitely a reason for that….but I won’t spoil that for you just yet.
3 ≅ Better the devil you know…
Having said all that, there are certain things that will remain that are kind of staple to the series. It would not be Silent Hill without them. I’m utilising locations that have already been identified in the franchise, but I am putting my own twist on them. After all, how one person experiences Alchemical Hospital is different to another. We’ve already seen how locations can change in Silent Hill, if you go through the different timelines. It all depends on the character, and what they did to deserve being in Silent Hill.
The different states of Silent Hill would obviously have to remain (let me echo your “Duh” there). The real world, foggy world and OtherWorld are all there, with a brief appearance of Nowhere. But, as with each game where the change from one state to another has evolved / altered over time, I have my own exciting system for when the changes happen.
Much of the lore needs to remain in tact, such as the cult beliefs and designs. One thing I refuse to do is change things that have already been recorded in the games. I might put a new spin on it that was not seen before, but the lore and history of Silent Hill will remain in tact.
And of course, it won’t be the same without Pyramid Head. I have not put him in just for the sake of having him in though. Everything that has been placed in my novel is there for a specific reason and purpose.
4 ≅ Pandora’s Box
I may have mentioned this item before, so skip ahead if you’ve read it. Another key element of the franchise is that it expertly uses puzzles, clues and mysteries that are relative to the character and situation to propel the story forward. A puzzle isn’t placed before you just because they can.
I know it may seem strange to have puzzles in a novel, but bear with me. It’s fine in movies to skip these parts, as film tends to stick to the core story to keep to the required script length. Yet, it has been done before. Such as “Thirteen Ghosts” and “National Treasure”, where I guess the puzzles are the story.
SH:B will definitely have puzzles, and I have structured them in such a way that the reader can try and solve the mystery before the protagonist can. The only time that it would not be possible is where the character has more knowledge on a situation than the reader would, which builds to the suspense. I’ve learnt from Stephen King how to use these types of story mechanics to build the thrill up to a climactic peak.
There are actually various reasons for me having done this, but two of them stand out above the others. One, I really enjoy the design of having to solve puzzles to obtain clues. Silent Hill sets the premise for this, so there almost no reason for me to explain why they are in there (although the antagonist does explain to the protagonist in the final act).
The second reason is for promotion of my work and sustainability. If Konami decided they wanted to adapt my novel as the next Silent Hill game, then I would like to have most of the game mechanics worked out already. It should be just as easy as taking my novel and turning it into a game. So by inserting my own puzzles and items, I am also trying to show them what a great edition to the series it would make.
5 ≅ The Golden Thread
There was once something that the games did that I really liked, although many disagree. In Silent Hill 2, there was an indication of the Walter Sullivan murders (sort of in the background) and when Silent Hill 4 came out, there was a conclusion to that story by making it the main part of the game.
I’m wanting to keep a similar golden thread throughout. There will be something in each of my novels that will allude to something bigger, although not forming part of those specific novels’ actual stories. I’ve decided that this will culminate in the finale in book 5, at which time everything that had happened up to then will be realised. So keep your eyes open for such hints.
6 ≅ Easter Eggs
Speaking about keeping your eyes open, there will also be some Easter Eggs in the novel. For those not into games, Easter Eggs are those little items put in as a little surprise, a joke, as a secret message or linked to something in a previous game. It is called so because often gamers will keenly look for these like an easter egg hunt. You really have to be observant otherwise you will miss it; like in Downpour when you suddenly come across the Room from Silent Hill 4.
I’ve got some of these goodies in my novel too, and those fanatics who remember everything from Silent Hill will quickly pick up on it. For the tourists, sadly it will just fly over your head. But that’s ok. Missing it will not take anything away from the story.
7 ≅ Significance of The Order
The cult association in the franchise known as “The Order” has been a contentious topic at times. I’ve seen people argue over whether the series is more about occultism than it is about the character’s fears and guilt.
My personal love for the series has been about fears and guilt, and less of a focus on The Order really. I agree with many who say that Silent Hill 2 was the best (although Silent Hill 4 and Homecoming are my favourite of all time), simply because there was more of a focus on the character’s state of mind and psychological involvement than the cult. The Order was almost only mentioned in passing.
SH:B novel will basically be the same. There is some agreement that it seemed that by Downpour’s time, The Order had been extinguished. Yet, let’s not forget that it had died down before and had been revived several times. The Order will be mentioned, but as a historical lesson at first. I have plans for someone to revive it, but in a new form. They need to have a presence somehow, otherwise my plans for the motives of the more darker beings in Silent Hill in the background will just fall away. These beings are kind of one of the reasons Silent Hill became what it is, specifically the Otherworld.
So yes, so much to expect from the upcoming novel. The excitement of writing such a novel exhilarates me as I feel like I am making and playing my own game of Silent Hill at the same time. I really can’t wait to share this tale with you all, and invite you into my own version of Silent Hill.
In love and Grace
The Count of Celenic Earth