An examination of what the genre means to me
|Define what horror is to you.
When the word 'Necrophilia' comes up, it is nearly always taken to be the extreme paraphilia associated with sexual deviants. I would like to challenge this perception. Necrophilia literally means 'love of death'. I think that describes many horror writers, so enamored and drawn to the morbid and gothic side of life. There is a dark beauty in the finality of it all.
I see each macabre story as an adoring letter, a tormented ballad of rotting flesh and primal fear. So why then, are we so infatuated with those lovely shadows? What is so enticing about the unpleasant feeling that someone is watching you, the dread of something under the bed, or the adrenaline rush when you dance upon that razor edge between life and death?
Perhaps it is the latter. After all, what makes you feel more alive than experiencing a close encounter with the Grim Reaper? I would consider myself a thrill-seeker, having spent considerable amounts of time on rollercoasters and other death-defying attractions. My reflexive reaction is to laugh hysterically as I take my life in my hands.
Is it because I'm having fun? Could it be a defense mechanism to the sheer panic overtaking my brain? I like to think that my life flashes before my eyes and I find it to be a comedy, giggling at the punch line.
While I don't get an intense flood of dopamine from reading spooky stories, the addiction is more psychological.
Death is something we will never fully understand. It's that mystery, the allure of the unknown that draws us subconsciously, whispering in the corners of our mind. What happens after the heart stops beating? When the light goes out in our eyes?
Nobody knows for certain. It's always been a one-way trip. But that hasn't stopped us from sitting at the bus station and watching those who buy tickets.
I would consider myself a lover of Death. After all, I've courted it on more than one occasion, but I've always been stood up. That is why I write these stories, I'm a jilted paramour. Horror is an outlet for me, a complicated relationship of love and fear that I cannot seem to untangle myself from.
What reaction do you get to being a Horror writer?
Horror will always be a niche genre. The average person doesn't enjoy the chills and thrills associated with slasher films or dark literature. It is an occasional interest, a seasonal thing when they decide to get into the Halloween spirit and do something a little daring.
Halloween is always in my heart. I would gladly carve pumpkins in December, decorate the yard with skeletons in May, and dress up as a werewolf for the Fourth of July.
I suppose that explains the strange looks I get. But in all seriousness, most people accept my hobby with mild to no interest. If I said that I made horror movies, I'm sure it would be much more interesting than having to read words like a chump.
But few people want to be taken out of their comfort zone and feel all the unpleasant emotions: fear, disgust, dread, anxiety, despair, and grief. That is why I am treated as an odd duck. Who would willingly subject themselves to this kind of mental torture? I guess I'll put 'masochist' on my resume.
Why is horror such an attractive force in all societies?
It is a medium that explores taboo subjects. Naturally, it will draw the rebellious and curious if you say these topics are forbidden. Even when there are no laws against showing violence, gore, or disturbing imagery, it will always compel those who have that innate fascination.
There is a saying in news media, "if it bleeds, it leads".
For some reason, brutal crime and shocking deaths are a hot commodity when it comes to selling newspapers or getting views. Why is that? Can we blame the general public for gleefully consuming the tasteless exploitation of tragedy? Or should we point fingers at the outlets that churn out this garbage?
I find it hypocritical when I meet people that turn their nose up at horror fiction but will be hypnotized by the constant stream of televised terror. Is it because real life is scarier, you think? Or is it just their preferred method of entertainment, as twisted as that sounds?
Death and destruction will always be more interesting than sunshine and rainbows. The numbers don't lie. Even if people watch through their fingers, they can't bring themselves to look away.