Do any of us know how we came to the decision that we like one style or one genre over another? Is there a defining point in your life that you can discuss that indicates why you became a big fan of *blank*? Not for me. I’m a strange horror fan.
When I grew up, I read a lot of horror. One of the many things that make me proud to have the parents I have is the fact that my mother stated that I can learn whatever I learn, as long as it came from a book. When I was younger, I didn’t watch horror movies. I was strangely scared of them or not allowed to watch them in fear of what they would do to me. To this day, I’m not much in them, at least not the typical blood and gore movies, but I read horror. From simple scary stories I would get from the bookmobile geared towards children, to things way to adult for a preteen to be reading, I read my share of horror as a kid. Oddly, I wasn’t affected too much. Never woke from nightmares or had to sleep with the light on. When I did watch horror, I wasn’t fond of it. It just seemed like an excuse to splatter blood and show me the no longer inner workings of a body. That wasn’t really horror to me. The more eerie, the more mysterious does it for me.
I suppose I like the suspense, the shock, and the willies up my spine when I read horror. The safety of the fear in my book, a place I can crawl into but quickly run back out and know I’m in no danger. It was a delight to me, and possibly made me feel a little more grown up for reading what I shouldn’t be reading as a kid. As an adult (or a grown up kid as I truly am), I’ve stepped away from the horror to read other genres, write other genres, but horror on paper still has a place in my heart.
As a writer, I’ve rarely tried to write horror. Like they say about comedy, it’s hard to make someone laugh; it’s also hard to make someone scared. We are cynical people, and when you know it’s a horror story, you are anticipating the surprise which makes it harder to enjoy the surprise. Horror is part irony/twist and I’m a lover of irony, but nowadays you have to twist the twist because people are expecting a twist. I intentionally made that sentence seem confusing. =) Horror is hard to write if you’re trying to step away from just being gory and really want to shock people. Yes, the more guts and blood, possibly the more you’ll receive shock, but will you always get fear from your reader?
I am of the opinion that horror should only be for short stories. This might seem surprising to many people, but I think the short form helps to keep the suspense high and the nerves on end. When you stretch it out in a novel, you either have to many lows, relaxed moments that the reader loses the anxiety or you over saturate the story with horror that they can be desensitized and no longer fear what they should fear. This is my personal opinion, of course. When I read horror as a child, it was short stories. It actually took awhile for me to get into novels, and I’m still kind of partial to short stories over novels in all genres, but that’s for another post.
Everyone knows the usual famous horror writers. No need to mention them so I will mention some of my favorite semi-unknowns to unknowns. Because I haven’t been reading horror lately, I’m afraid I’ll have to direct you to some podcasts authors.
If you don’t know, podcasts are simple audio programs that anyone can create. They range from discussion groups, audio dramas, information pieces, to people just reading their stories. The following links are to sites with horror writers that I enjoy.
Russell Burt is like the rest of us. He has a love of writing and specifically for horror. For a couple years he was recording and posting his short stories on his blog. He also included his horror novel and later opened the doors to other writers to submit their stories (Yes, one of mine is on there. He asked for it, and I was honored, and he did a fantastic job reading it.). Sadly, he ended his blog back in 2008, but it’s still up to enjoy his past accomplishments. His final post has comprehensive links to the different areas of his stories, novel, and listener contributions. I miss Russell’s writing, but am glad I got to talk with him, and enjoy what he had to offer. I think I’ll go email him a “Hey how ya doing note.”
Pseudopod is part of a large podcasting organization that brings the stories of writers to the online audio world. There is Pseudopod for horror, Podcastle for fantasy, and Escapepod for science fiction. Stephen Eley started the whole thing but Podcastle and Pseudopod have their own teams. You will get a wide variety of horror stories here. I’m afraid I’m way, way, way behind in listening.
Though I’m behind in my listening, I would like to point out my favorite so far of their stories. This one just blew my mind and burned images into my head that pop up every now and again.
Last but not least is Phil Rossi who is probably considered one of the big wigs in the podcast world of writing. I’m behind on everything but this writer/musician has cranked out some nice horror material. Most of his recent books are free on audio if you want to take a listen.
That’s all I have for now. Nanowrimo is around the corner, and though I’m not writing horror, there should be some horrific aspects to my 2011 WIP so I will keep these writers, and my memories of horror in mind as I click away.