WHY I WRITE HORROR.
I love writing horror. That's something I never really thought I'd say... until late last year, when something clicked and I started writing spooky stuff.
The opportunity to explore the balance between light and dark, good and evil, is fascinating. And the ability to make someone's skin crawl, or stomach flip, or to send a chill down their spine is, quite frankly, exhilarating.
MY APPROACH TO WRITING HORROR
One of the most powerful features of excellent Gothic or macabre writing is the ability of an author to horrify the reader on an intellectual and emotional level even more than they do physically.
This is something that I aspire to in my own writing. I always try to engage the mind and the emotions, not just the reflexes that make one gag or feel their skin crawling, although those are certainly effects that I enjoy stimulating in a reader. I don’t write splatter for splatter’s sake - there has to be a deeper meaning and a greater purpose to it than that if I really want to connect with and move my reader on a psychological level. There needs to be a story, not just a scene, and the reader needs to be able to connect with that story in order for it to have full effect on them.
I sought to do this in 'The Silver Feather' by developing strong emotions in my main character’s responses to things that happened around him and to him - grief, shock, dread, surprise, horror, and fear. Phil is an ordinary guy with talents, strengths and flaws that make his situation one in which any of us could find ourselves. Not everything is explained in full, because as an author, you want the reader to be wondering what’s going on, and holding their breath as they anticipate what’s coming next. Things become clearer as the story progresses, but sufficient questions remain at the end because you want the reader to remain interested enough to read the sequel.
'Curious Things' is a little different in that it consists of thirteen stories, all featuring a black cat named Friday and his interaction with people who are all doing the wrong thing in one way or another. It’s not enough to blow them up or have them arrested - I want to make them face consequences, to be confronted by their conscience, and to pay the price for their less-than-savoury ways. Each story develops from some kind of superstition - do black cats bring bad luck? What would happen if the ground really did open up and swallow someone? Again, some questions about Friday remain unanswered, although it is evident that he’s not exactly your ordinary house cat. The reader doesn’t need to know everything to understand that Friday is actively involved in the strange events that occur, one way or another.
I do have plans for more horror stories. There may, or may not, be a sequel to The Silver Feather - the truth is that I haven’t decided on this just yet. There will be another collection of horror stories, several of which have already been written and edited, and another is well under way. I’m not setting myself a due date for any of these projects - they will happen when they happen, and I will work steadily toward them.
My goal in all of this is to give my readers a reading experience that is original, well-written and provocative enough to give them the chills and shudders that they seek when they pick up a horror story. I want them to hold their breath, and gasp, and recoil when they read my work. And I want them to come back for more, because that is the greatest compliment and honour that an author can receive from a reader.
I’m dead keen. Are you?