Friday, 2 November 2012

Hallowe'en is behind us but horror never leaves

The creepiest night of the year has come and gone. The pumpkins can be left out to rot and the broomsticks can go back in the cupboards again. I hope everyone had a fantastic Halloween. I certainly did (if you're curious I went to see The Horror! The Horror! at Wiltons and it was both deliciously dark and intensely funny.) I've always loved Halloween, and it excites me that each year it gets bigger and bigger in the UK. By the time I'm ready to settle in the suburbs I'm hoping that we will have reached full throttle on the 31st October. I'm talking about houses decorated like this:

But this is a blog about books and writing, so let me get to the point. I've always loved horror writing. I spent my very early reading years with my nose stuck in anything I could find from the Point Horror collection, and later I would devour Stephen King novels like they were After Eight mints. This, substituted with my childhood love of the Twilight Zone and infamous video nasties (Sam Raimi, I'm looking at you) makes for a somewhat warped mind in adult life. So it's with no small suprise that I've found myself re-visiting the greatest of all horror writing: the Short Story.

I've read recently (sorry - no idea where) that all stories are horror stories at heart. There is always that twisted knot of conflict to drive the action, and that action always horror at it's heart. In simple terms a love story takes it's horror from the fear of being alone (or with the wrong person) and other types of stories work in similar ways. There is always a darkness. With no danger, conflict or fear then there is no reason to urge any characters forwards. I thought that was an interesting idea, and I agree with it for the most part but those are not the stories I have been reading. I have been reading those traditional horror stories that play on our universal fear of the dark and our tendency to run from what we know is coming.

The short story has a long and lucrative relationship with the horror genre. The masters of the craft use the shorter length to keep things from the audience. It's very much all about what you are not told that make things creepy; whether this is a twist in the tale like in Amborse Bierce's An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge (fine that - read it!) or the grandeous and forever veiled Cthulu Mythos from Lovecraft's stories. It works. It scares because it isn't known.

This rediscovered love of the short horror tale has, inevitable I guess, led me to start working on my own horror stories. It's not something I've done before and I'm loving it. There is an endless amount of fun to be had in that slow drip of information, that relishing of the darkness and those long cold fingers on the back of your neck.

My first effort 'The postman is a creep' is currently pending acceptance / rejection at a couple of journals so I'll keep you up to date on that.

On the meantime there's plenty of horror out there to get your demonic fangs into. here's a few to get you started...

The Damned Thing - Ambrose Piece
The Rats in the Walls - HP Lovecraft
The Deamon Lover - Shirley Jackson
Ligeia - Edgar Allen Poe

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