Sometimes a genre catches on and there's a sudden deluge of new writers, and you
have to wonder at their motivation. Do they love the material, or are they in it
for a quick buck? Horror is not one of those genres. The only genre that makes
less money than horror is western.
In other words, every horror novel is a work of love.
October is the one month of the year when the horror author gets to bask in the
attention usually reserved for the writers of more popular fiction. As the trees
catch fire with fall colors and the air turns brisk, just about everyone enjoys
giving themselves a few safe chills, culminating in Halloween, the celebration
of all things spooky. To help people choose their poison, book reviewers on
television, in print and on the web turn their focus to the horror novel. We
horror novelists—accustomed to skittering around in dark
corners—peer stunned into the spotlight for a few moments before it moves
on. November first, we go back to weaving our webs in darkness (I need to work
that into a novel...).
I was lucky enough that the advanced review copies of my horror novel, THE HOARD, went out just in
time for reviewers to include it in their October festivities. However, THE HOARD is being released
throughout November in its different formats and at different vendors, and
people's thoughts have turned to other things.
But I'm a horror author all year long. I spend every spare moment pouring my
energy into the genre, regardless of which holiday is around the corner. I know
that there's more to a good horror novel than some fun chills and thrills. Yes,
I certainly want those to be present, but for me, that's gravy. That's the
frosting on the cake. That's not the meat of the genre. It's the gravy frosting
on the meatcake of the genre.
So what do I claim to be the substance of the genre? Well, most good horror
writers are character writers. It's not a coincidence. Horror scenarios are
thought experiments. They are a way of testing people under very specific
If you've read a lot of horror, then you know that it is probably the least
predictable genre of fiction. The good guy is not guaranteed to win. Sometimes
the monster wins. Sometimes the good guy turns out to actually be the monster.
Sometimes, everyone dies! I love the fact that, unlike in most genres, when a
character is in danger in a horror story, he's really in danger. It's likely
that the author isn't go into step in and deus ex machine him out of the
situation, even if he's the protagonist and he's made it to the final chapter.
That's the tension that keeps me turning pages.
It's also what keeps my fingers tapping the keys. As a horror writer, I don't
know what's going to happen when I drop my characters into a bad situation. I
just get in their heads and go along for the ride. With their humanity pushed to
the brink, I don't know where they'll go or what they'll do. I know that some
will snap, and I'll catch a glimpse of that dark, selfish, animal core that we
all fear might be revealed if we're pushed too far. I know that I'll also
sometimes see nobility and empathy beyond what can rationally be explained.
And those are things worth experiencing at any time of the year. So, despite its
November release, consider checking out THE HOARD and other horror
novels (but mostly THE
HOARD). If enough people do, maybe we can even get back our own section in
THE HOARD is
available on the Kindle
now, and everywhere November 20th.
A new breed...a new evil...
Hidden deep beneath its landfill lair of trash and filth, a strange new organism
has come to life. When an accidental fire drives it out, the mysterious creature
escapes across the drought-blasted Kansas prairie and finds the home of elderly
hoarder Anna Grish. In desperate need of shelter, it burrows in, concealed
amidst the squalor and mess.
When Adult Protective Services force Anna to vacate her junk-riddled home, she
moves in with her son and his family. But there is something wrong with Anna,
something more than her declining mental condition and severe hoarding disorder.
Something sinister has taken hold of her, and it's not only getting stronger,
Amidst the wide-open Kansas plains, with endless blue sky above and flat, open
vista stretching from one horizon to the next, there is nowhere to hide
Now I may be the wrong person to comment here, since I don't read horrors. I just don't like books that go on about corpses and blood and slime and dying horribly and bodies and haunts and the rest. I also got the idea from the few I did read, that there is not much character progression. Well a dead or evil thing is not going to grow and change is it? And the characters don't get time to do more than run a bit and scream.
I do however respect an author who has taken the time, and used his/her craft, to create a believable plot and characters. One film I think was very well done was 'The Lost Boys' - and King's 'Salem's Lot' I saw with David Soul, excellent. Also when a genuine motivation is included such as 'The Fog' where the ghosts of drowned seamen came from the fog 100 years later, to wreak revenge on the descendents of the villagers who lured their ship onto the rocks.
So I understand that it must be a labour of love for you when not everyone is a fan, and provided you are creating a well crafted book, then I say well done and good luck.
(Clare O'Beara 5:18am November 8)
I love the horror genre, something that can keep me up into the wee hours. I got hooked in Lovecraft and King when I was in high school. Right now I am still floating on Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan's series. I can tell you I got my son (a teen) to finally pick up a book that didn't have cliff notes by giving him the series and now he is hooked.
(Carla Carlson 10:48am November 8)
I love the horror genre. I do agree, it isn't predictable. There isn't always happy endings. Sometimes evil prevails. I would love to read your book.
(Debbie Penny 6:45pm November 8)
I always make the horror excerpts more scary than it sounds. By the time I read and finished the book, I always wonder why do I always hype up the terror.
(Kai Wong 10:30pm November 8)
I love horror stories !!! It is never a book that can be predicted you are always in suspense about what is going to happen next .
(Danielle McDonald 3:31pm November 9)
You are so right about October being the month when the macabre, zombies and witches stir up mischief. I once knew a writer who in his story had all sorts of weapons which he used on the first three pages and then there were hardly any characters left. In the writers group we asked for more character development to make us care more about the people involved.
(Alyson Widen 5:52pm November 18)