Why Horror?

Of all the things a person could write about…why horror?  Why choose that as a genre: the one filled with psychopaths, serial killers (overused, but I’ve indulged), gore, and death?

First of all, for me: I didn’t choose it.  In fact (and this is funny), I didn’t even like horror movies growing up.  I suppose I grew up reading sword and sorcery type of stuff: Dungeons and Dragons, and their (yeah, okay, so maybe I indulged a little…) horror counterpart, Ravenloft books.

Then there was the wonderful Joe Dever series, Lone Wolf; for those of you who don’t know what choose your own adventure means, you’re missing out on 1980’s book writing.

Going back to my original question: Why write horror?  For me, I just ended up there.  Like, I started writing, and horror just spewed out like long-contained and spewed vitriol all over the computer screen:

Like a road-killed rattlesnake on summer pavement: spasm-ridden, the poison just came spitting forth–wide open.

I’ve covered what I consider to be the four types of horror writers.  I don’t know where to put myself, other than to say that I may have a political agenda or world view.  To put things into perspective, let’s consider what I consider the top five books I’ve read in ten years:

1) The Selfish Gene: Richard Dawkins

2) Impossibility: The Limits of Science and the Science of Limits: John D. Barrow

3) Godel, Escer, Bach: An Eternal, Golden Braid: Douglas Hofstadter

4) Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon: Daniel Dennett

5) The God Delusion: again, Richard Dawkins

Notice first that these are all science lit books.  Nothing fiction.

That’s because I feel that the biggest inspiration I’ve had for writing “horror” came from the realization of the “real.” The Selfish Gene, if viewed through the right set of eyes, is grotesque.  And that’s because “wonder” and “horror,” I believe, share a strong relationship: akin to comedy/tragedy.

There is a beauty in horror, if you read between the lines long enough in these works.  The first thing that hits me, though, is horror.  And maybe that’s just because that’s how I see the world.

I’d also like to discuss my recent series, on suicide.  I’ve written a lot of flash fiction that ends with people committing some form of suicide.  Now, let me make one thing very clear: I wouldn’t wish for anyone to consider my work as inspiration to end their own life; I would find that deeply devastating.

In fact: I want to inspire people to live.  I hope that, when people see what I’ve written, they’ll put their own lives into perspective, and try to live a little better than they have been.

But I also want the world to stop bullshitting itself.

And maybe that’s the essence of horror writing: to show people things that they don’t want to look at, just long enough to say “Hey, it’s real life.  Deal with it, move on, and enjoy reality: because your increasing level of bullshit is making life intolerable for people like me.”

It’s like trying to destroy the darkness inside of me before it gets to me.  And that’s about as real as fiction can get.


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