Inside the Macabre Mind of the Horror Writer

Within each and every one of us are those dark thoughts that causes our skin to prickle and muscles to shiver in terror, thoughts that horrifically shame us. Deep in the recesses of each human mind is darkness. That darkness is what fuels our terror and nightmares. It is what gives us our conscience, our morality. However, there is a breed of humans that feed off the darkness and wallow in pits of of human fear. Those special, select humans are the ones that dabble in the writing of horror. The key difference between horror writers and others is that those who script the macabre shine a big spotlight on the darkness within their minds, drawing attention to it, where the majority of other writers prefer to not acknowledge that aspect of their being.

Now please, do not begin thinking that horror writers have dead bodies hiding in our basements or goat heads stung up on a shrine within our closets or that we are only driven by the macabre every second of our lives. We are not our characters. We do not live out the scenarios written about in our stories. Our fascination with horror resides only in our heads and when we put pen to paper. For most of us, we get a high off writing dark fiction. These horrible things that run through our minds, we want to share it. To give everyone else the thrill that we experience when we bring the darkness out from our minds and into the light. We love evoking the fight or flight response. And admit it, as a reader, you get a kick off of sitting at the edge of your seat. When you are at that peak during reading one of our ghastly tales, we have done our jobs. When you put our book down and walk away with a trembling feeling that you just survived a near-death experience, we have become the masters of sharing the true terror of our minds.

(c) 2014, Amanda Headlee

(c) 2014, Amanda Headlee

Horror is that shift in perspective away from the ordinary, everyday life. The genre is a path into a new parallel universe that rips the ground out from beneath your feet, casting you a hundred miles per hour to the core of the story while your mind prays you make it out alive. When you do surface from the grave, you feel more alive than ever. You have just survived Hell. That is why we do it. That is why we are so obsessed with the darkness within our minds, and yearn for the satisfaction of sharing it with the world through the written word. We want to bring you that shift in your reality, to knock you off your feet, to make you feel death, to make you fear the darkness, and to make you run like mad back to the pure light of all that is good.   Because what is darkness without light, and light without darkness?

Categories: Horror | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Beta Reads, Book Launches, and Travels – oh my!

There will be no crazy, demented, creepy post this week.  The past few days have been an absolute whirl-wind with beta reads, research, and travels.  Yet, I have a lot of good news to announce!

Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity is at the press as I speak and is fully prepared to launch at the Shore Leave convention on April 1st.  16 more days!

Write pals Phil Giunta and Kirsten Blacketer have a lot of short stories and novellas that will be releasing within the next few months.  They have been keeping me a busy beta!

My novel-in-process is causing me a lack of sleep – from nightmares.  That is my rated ‘R’ warning for severe terror and some gore.  I also have a short story that I am working on for an upcoming short fiction sampler.  No spoilers, so keep tuned into this blog and the Sarcastic Muse for more details that will be posting in the coming weeks.

And finally – and quite possibly the best news of the week – Robyn LaRue’s novel, Shadows Wake, launched today!  Congratulations to Robyn.  Shadows Wake is a coming of age story filled with twists and terror that will keep you holding your breath until the last page.  Be sure to check it out!

 

Be prepared for next week’s post as we travel into the mind of a Horror writer…

 

So much to do, so little time, and winter is right around the corner!  (c) jemolesky

So much to do, so little time, and winter is right around the corner! (c) jemolesky

Categories: Horror | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Possession of Horror Art

A little over a week ago, I knocked two places off my bucket list: Visiting Salem, MA and touring the House of the Seven Gables. I felt like I was walking on clouds the entire weekend, it was pure bliss. The entire town is a place where a little macabre soul like myself can easily fit in. Not one person gave me an odd look when I mention that I write in the Horror genre or that I have a neurotic obsession with H.P. Lovecraft. The locals just smile and say, “We are all a bit different here and that is what makes Salem home”. I now secretly dream of living in Salem one day. I cannot say enough about the amazing the trip and the insanely polite Salem locals. This was the first town that I ever visited where no one made you feel like a “tourist”.

One such place that made Salem feel like home was the first shop that my friend and I visited, The Scarlet Letter Press and Gallery.

On our first day in downtown Salem, we wandered around Pickering Warf when out of the corner of my eye; I spied a Varney the Vampire print hanging on a shop wall. Like a hawk that latched its sights on a terrified little rabbit, I made a beeline right into the store and stared face-to-face with the print. It was love at first sight. The print was made to look like a Victorian advertisement publicizing the penny dreadful. I was lost in my thoughts of where I would hang this print in my house for wall space has no vacancy, that I almost did not hear the “Hello” behind me.

I had ran like a mad woman into The Scarlet Letter Press that I did not even notice Rebecca DeVries sitting behind the front desk. In a daze, I turned to her and breathlessly whispered, “This is amazing.” She laughed, thanked me, and explained that most of the art within The Scarlet Letter Press and Gallery were from local artisans. The Scarlet Letter Press is a full printing company that specializes in short-run digital printing. The front portion of the press company houses a gallery full of the macabre and dreadful.

An eclectic collection of prints, paintings, jewelry, and sculptures, the gallery’s theme is of the weird and supernatural. However, what has really captured my attention, aside from the Varney print, is that the works by these local artists have an air of grace and refinement. Not one item in this gallery could even be considered ‘tacky’ or overboard on the gore factor. Every little piece of art is tastefully done and captures the pure essence of the medium. And each piece actually compliments one another, even though many different artists are involved. It is so rare to find a collection such as this, a collection that exhibits the true haunting nature of horror.

I mentioned this to Rebecca and from there we discussed the unbounded talents of her artists and the wonderment of this little town of Salem. Without asking, she provided historic sites not to miss in town as well as two places out of town, where my friend and I took up her suggestion to visit Hammond Castle. The experience of Hammond Castle was breathtaking, but that is a story for another day.

It was at this point in the discussion Rebecca’s husband came into the gallery wearing a shirt that said ‘I love Horror’, where the “love” was actually an anatomically correct picture of a heart. Needless to say, with that T-shirt, I knew that I was among like-minded people. Ones who are avid lovers of the Horror genre and are well versed in its history.

What Rebecca and her husband have built with The Scarlet Letter Press and Gallery is a true homage to the horror genre. They are providing to the community a phantasmal showcase of dark art and terror.

If you are ever in Salem, make sure to visit The Scarlet Letter Press and Gallery. The experience of taking in the aura of the gallery’s art is one that will never be forgotten.

 

Website: http://tslpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheScarletLetterPress

 

 

Categories: Horror | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

The Horror of BS

Last week I posted on The Sarcastic Muse about the importance of research.  I am reposting that post here because I cannot stress enough that the key to a successful story includes having all the correct facts.  Authors cannot make up a load of BS and expect the reader to be accepting (unless that unsettled, distrustful feeling is what you want the reader to have).

Research is what pushes an author’s work that extra mile.  In the end, research saves on the horrifying experience of being called out on made up facts.

 

Don’t Make Me Call BS

We are human, which enables us to inherently perceive bullshit.  Hemingway once said that a writer must develop an internal bullshit detector.  In other words, a writer must be able to look at their work and distinguish that it is not flat out full of mumbo-jumbo.  One small piece of BS could figuratively force a reader to throw out a book.  A reader must feel like they can attribute factual merit to a writer’s work.

A sure fire solution to prevent a piece of writing from being, well, a load of crap is research.

Ah, I see I now have the attention of the fact checkers!

To read the full post, please click here.

 

Silence in the Library (c) Kevin_P

Silence in the Library (c) Kevin_P

 

As a special note, there is less than one month until the Shore Leave convention!  As a special tribute to the release of the Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity anthology, author Phil Giunta will be posting a weekly interview with all of the authors from the anthology.

Last week, Phil posted his interview with yours truly, which can be read here.

This week, he posted an interview with the talented Susanna Reilly, which can be read here.

Keep an eye out on his blog for the weekly interview post with each anthology author.  The posts will occur up until the release of Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity at the Shore Leave convention on August  1st, 2014.

Categories: Writing Process | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Jay Bonansinga on the (recent) history of horror writing

Apologies for the lack of posts in May.  There were several tight deadlines to meet, which forced me to choose spending my free time between writing blog posts, research for a new story, or sleeping.  Sadly, blogging and sleep lost out to research.  Luckily, research is the inspiration for my next post, so keep an eye out for that next week.

In this video, Jay Bonansinga, who is a Walking Dead novelist, gives an interesting overview of Horror writing today versus the genre’s heyday in the 1980’s.

Enjoy!

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A scream a day keeps the doctor away!

(c) 2014, perdrojperez

(c) 2014, perdrojperez

The news is in:  Horror is good for your health!

A 2003 study showed that watching horror movies, increases the body’s production of white blood cells.  In the study, 32 men and women between the ages of 20 to 26 years of age had a blood sample analysis conducted before, during, and after watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 version).  All subjects consent that they have never viewed the movie previously.  From the obtained blood samples, leukocytes (a.k.a. white blood cells) showed production growth in the sample obtained after the movie was watched in comparison to the sample obtained prior to the subject watching the movie.

To which I now believe that every time I delve into the realm of horror, my body will become even more invincible.  Go ahead, Michael Myers, take a stab… I will just heal myself!

A second study has shown that horror movies can also lead to weight loss.  And thus the fad dieting plan has been born!  The study tested 12 non-obese men around the age of 25 and subjected them to controlled movie experiments, stemming from the genres of horror to romance.  The results showed that watching movies in the horror genre caused an increase of diet-induced thermogenesis (a growth in energy over the standard metabolic rate), which at prolonged heightened levels can lead to weight loss.  You can potentially burn up to 200 calories in a sitting (read the caloric nutritional guide on certain horror flicks here)!  However, stuffing your face while sitting on the couch watching horror movies all day will most likely be counter productive to this diet.

With this new diet fad, we can watch ourselves thin… it doesn’t matter if we are psychologically scarred after this intense workout.

Finally, horror increases survival skills, a necessity needed to survive any impending apocalypse.  The horror enthusiasts will be the ones to keep a level head in dire circumstances.  They will know which situations to handle and which to avoid, because their horror obsession has trained them for this day.  Equipped with the right tools and know-how, they are enabled to be the sole survivors when the world turns grim.  Horror enthusiasts have the knowledge to avoid haunted-looking buildings, to not pick up hitchhikers, to not say Bloody Mary while looking in a mirror, and to double tap the serial killer in the head to make sure he is truly dead.

There are no better survival manuals in existence than a good old horror story.

So to all the horror aficionados out there, maintain your healthy lifestyle with daily doses horror movies or horror literature.  It will lead to a long and healthy life.

 

Disclaimer: The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  So, do not start thinking that a good horror story will solve all of your medical conundrums.  In fact, too many horror stories could lead you on a one-way trip to the funny farm.  All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only. 

 

Categories: Horror | Leave a comment

Haunting Ends

Terrible thoughts have been plaguing my mind for the past three days.  So much so, that my synapses cannot fire without thinking of this situation that I now find myself consumed by.  I have been obsessing over this dilemma that I was unable write this blog post on Sunday… or Monday.  And I am struggling to write it now.

The dilemma:  I have no idea how to end the current story that I am writing.

Wait… let me rephrase that.  I know exactly how I want to end my story, but I am being told by some beta readers that it is the wrong ending.  Yet, let me just note that none of these readers are horror aficionados and this story is not one they enjoyed because it gave them nightmares.

The sun is setting on this grim ending (c) phaewilk

So to my loyal blog readers, I am turning to you and seeking your sage advice, for I am in great turmoil.  Do I follow my heart or write how I am being told to write?

Without divulging in the story’s secret, this one specific piece I am ending in a standoff between the Protagonist and Antagonist (and for my macabre kin – yes it is a tale of horror.  And yes, only one of them is “human”).  The final few lines detail an attack by one of the characters against the other character who holds his ground, weapon in hand.  And that is it.  That is where I am ending it.  The story does not divulge who survives or who perishes.

So I am robbing you, as the reader?  Do you feel cheated by this ending?  Do you need a solid conclusion?  Also, please answer with the thoughts on if the story length (short story vs. novel) has any affect on your feelings toward this open ending.

What draws me to horror is the unknown.  To dredge the abysmal depth of horror is the epitome of cosmicism.  I feed on how the genre sends my imagination reeling into uncharted dimensions in an attempt to fathom the complexities that are unfolding before my eyes as I try to associate the imagry with a human experience.

To me, the end to the entire tale is justifiable.  It leaves the wondering of “who is the real human?”, based on the open ending.  Mingled with an air of mystery, the reader is forced to come to his or her own conclusion.  To close the story with THEIR interpretation.

However, if I am truly wrong in my thoughts, and a solid ending is needed, I have already plotted out closure for this tale.  But be careful for what you wish for.  My imagination is more horrific than most in this realm.

You may just be safer with coming to your own conclusion…

 

 

Categories: Horror, Writing Process | 5 Comments

Lady Death

(c) phototogo2

(c) phototogo2

The unknown captivates the attention of even the deepest recesses of our awareness.  Like the flame to a moth, Death flickers with a beckoning wave.  And as humans, we respond with confrontation, questions, and damnation.    Since the dawn of humanity, Death has captured the fascination of the mortal mind and holds the precious conscience in her barren grip.  She taunts us with her mystery.

For it is the unknown of Death to which we are drawn.  Should we fear or embrace her?  She is, after all, the everlasting end.

Early philosophers weave tales of horror, depicting her coming as a fiery hell or hollow end.  Eternities of pure pain or absolute emptiness; a paradise lost to all of humanity.  Few claim that there is goodness and riches to come, but the cynicism in their voice betrays their inner feelings.

And so we are left lost in wonder and in fear.  What lies in the hereafter?

We know not where to turn because those who claim to be of the knowing are merely false prophets of the mortal realm.  We will only know the truth when she comes to call on us in the night.

One truth that humanity can be certain of is that our mortal time will end.  For she will come for each of us, one day…

Categories: Horror | Tags: | 2 Comments

Supernatural Horror in Literature by H.P. Lovecraft – Chapter 3

This chapter is one of my favorites because it heavily touches upon the early Gothic literature in detailing all of the players who were the first to drain their blood for this genre.  However, what is fascinating is how Lovecraft makes several references to the women authors as being some of the first pioneers of the Gothic literary tradition.  Ann Radcliffe has a rather large starring role.  If you have not read The Mysteries of Uldolpho by Radcliffe, you simply must go out and find it at once.  It is a pure taste of the earliest works of Gothic horror.

 

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9 Books Scarier than any Horror Movie by Molly Horan

Well, it just dawned on me that today is Tuesday and I never posted yesterday – yea my week has been that crazy already…  I am a little fried at the moment to write a post, so I thought I would share a blog post that I found a couple months ago.  The post, 9 Books Scarier than any Horror Movie by Molly Horan, lists out the books that she believes are scarier than any movie.

Here is a link to the post:  http://mashable.com/2013/10/14/scary-books/

Personally, I have only read 2 of the 9 books that she lists: The Haunting of Hill House and The Amityville Horror.   I completely agree with Ms. Horan for listing these two, because these books creeped me out – way more than the movie version.

As I am always in the mood to expand the horror collection in my library, I would like to know if any of you – my loyal readers – have read any of the other 7 books that Ms. Horan has listed.  I am extremely keen on books that you think are more terrifying than anything that Hollywood could conjure up.

So please, share your favorite book horrors in the comments section below!

P.S. I am a little disheartened to see that Susan Hill’s Woman in Black not appear on this list.  That book had me terrified to be alone in my little appalachian house for weeks after reading it – a rarity indeed!

(c) ardlefin

(c) ardlefin

Categories: Horror | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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