I get asked that question a lot.
Most of the time, vocally. The rest of time, people just give me that strange, judgmental look.
You know the one I’m talking about.
Whether you write horror fiction, or you’re just a fan of the genre, you’ve gotten that look. It’s a look that says, “What’s wrong with you?” or “Why do you like that stuff?”
Because it fucking ROCKS, that’s why!
Fans of heavy metal (I count myself among you) get the same treatment. Any genre that our society doesn’t generally accept gets regarded with a certain amount of animosity. Horror fiction, horror movies, heavy metal – exist on the fringe. Fans like us are the “outsiders.” The freaks. The weirdos.
We’re the ones that have a morbid infatuation with death. We worship Satan, crave violence, cheer death, praise serial killers…
I know, right? That’s how “mainstreamers” regard us! You’re right – they don’t get us.
Even if you were to explain that, no – we aren’t presidents of the Ted Bundy Fan Club, and actually, we don’t high-five each other over the horrors found on the internet and the evening news. Even your confession of fainting at the sight of blood won’t likely register much in the way of sympathy from the mainstreamers. To them, we’ll always be the sickos their preconceived notions tell them we are.
After DEADSVILLE came out, members of my extended family (folks who are definitely NOT horror fans) got in touch to say they read the book – and enjoyed it!
I know – they’re relatives. They’re supposed to say that. No argument here. However, they all had one particular comment in common. It struck me because most of the readers who WERE horror fans had the same comment. I have to paraphrase, but it boiled down to this:
“[The stories in DEADSVILLE] were not what I was expecting.”
Reading through the reviews, (and in our online and in-person conversations) Terry and I could clearly see that we had exceeded the expectations of BOTH groups – the established horror fans, and the relatives who had never read (but knew they didn’t like) horror fiction.
The fans didn’t expect the twists or the stories to to be so unique, in that we didn’t rely upon established (recycled) concepts and plot lines. (Thanks!) The non-fans didn’t expect that horror stories could be well-written. Or stories! Their mind-set was blood and body parts everywhere, character and plot secondary or missing entirely. (Thank you! We’re happy to shatter your preconceived notions!)
I write horror because I find it to be the perfect backdrop for exploring the human condition. In the genre, all emotions are valid. I’m not saying that in other genres emotions are somehow less valid, but in horror fiction you’re creating characters that are dealing with all sorts of monsters and madness, and with that much adrenaline being injected into their systems, those characters discover who they really are. Plus, it’s damn good fun to unleash a demon or some other hellish monster and watch what happens to the humans in our fictional worlds! If the story works well, it’s like a mirror – a reflection of the real world. When those characters reveal what they’re made of, we often see what we’re made of!
Sometimes, perhaps, we don’t like so much what we see in our reflection.
Sometimes, there’s a monster staring back at us.
So – why horror? Why write it, why watch it?
Because good horror is always more than the sum of its bloody, dismembered parts. It can be literary. It can be emotional. It can be funny. It can be mashed-up with other genres. Fictional horror helps us deal with the real-life horrors that surround us every day.
Because if there ever is a monster staring back at us in the mirror, we need to know how to take that thing on!
Thanks for reading, Deadies!
For more information on DEADSVILLE, click on the image below…