Catharsis or Carnival?

As anyone connected to the horror genre can tell you, we get more than our fair share of questions that boil down to “why do you read/write that stuff?” along with the accompanying nervous sidelong looks and wrinkled nose gestures. And, put on the spot, I’ve always found it difficult to give a reasoned answer, settling for either the glib (“because I’m more twisted than a yoga mom wrestling with a Slinky in a pretzel machine”) or the cop-out (a bewildered shrug). So when Sue Palmer from Book Junkies did me the recent kindness of asking me a far more nuanced and generously-phrased version of that question, I snapped her hand off and wrote down some thoughts. Only, I didn’t actually snap her hand off. That’s a metaphor, thankfully. Here are those thoughts, and I think they come closest to capturing what it is about the genre that attracts me, repels me, keeps me coming back as a reader, writer and even viewer. Well, all this and the euphoric thrill of the carnival ride, too; let’s not forget that. Continue reading “Catharsis or Carnival?”

The Horror… The Horror…

“Horror… Horror has a face… and you must make a friend of horror.” Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now

You’d think that horror would be one of the easiest of genres within which to write: create a protagonist who is either extremely likeable or go for the opposite, a character deserving of some particularly overdue and nasty payback; either invent or import a monster from Familiar Horror Trope Land (sparkly or not, preferably the latter); bring them together in some unexpected location and everything gets all squishy and liquidized and unpleasant and the audience members lose all control of their bodily functions and curse your parents… except that’s not necessarily what happens at all. Horror is hard to write. Okay, no, I just lied. Horror is easy to write, but good horror is hard to write. Continue reading “The Horror… The Horror…”

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