Regardless of what genre you write in – historical fiction, romance, literary fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, horror – you inevitably have someone ask you, ‘Why?’
I get that a lot. Especially with horror.
‘Why horror? The world’s bad enough as it is.’
And that’s why I write horror, because of the way the world is. When you turn on the news, which has connected us to the farthest reaches of the globe, you learn of the misery of others. This isn’t new, of course, we all know that there is suffering in the world. Television and the internet have merely joined forces to put an extremely human face on the plight of others.
Horror lets you escape that by showing you something horrific that is identifiable, and controllable.
Is the story too terrible to read? Put the book down. You know it’s fiction.
That’s why I write horror. Especially supernatural horror. There is an element of control to the process of dealing with horror as a writer. I take the world as I see it (which is not pleasant) and I deal with it in my own way.
I have a short story about racism, assault, and vengeance, three subjects which are difficult to handle when experienced in the real world. In my story, these are still difficult, but there is a supernatural element that enables one of the offended parties to exact revenge.
Writing horror is a catharsis for me. Reading it can be as well. The popularity of horror as a genre waxes and wanes, as does anything, but Stephen King points out how we can measure the level of fear and stress in our society by the horror we produce.
Look at the monster films of the 50s and 60s. We have radioactive beasts assaulting America and Japan. One of those countries dropped the bomb, and one of them had the bomb dropped on them. Is it any wonder that both the US and Japan would fear the A-Bomb? That they would fear the effects of it?
So, when someone asks you why you write horror, tell them why. And if you like, tell them you write horror because it’s less frightening than reading the news.
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