“How can you write a love story and then turn around and write about blood and guts?” a reader recently asked me. “Do you like to be scared?”
I don’t write horror because I like to be scared. Maybe the answer is that if I’m going to be scared, I’d rather scare myself than have someone else do it. Or, maybe I’m trying to work out some issues buried deep within my subconscious. Or, maybe I just enjoy the adrenaline rush from a good scare.
All I know is that true horror has nothing to do with blood and guts. True horror hits you where you live, in the subconscious. It’s the reason why you’ll avoid going down in the basement when you’re alone, because you know there is SOMETHING waiting at the bottom of the stairs. Why you won’t look under the bed in the middle of the night because you know there will be a pair of big red eyes staring back at you. Why the closet door HAS to be shut when you go to sleep.
Horror stories have their uses, believe it or not. They can make you feel better about the lousy job you have or that miserable creep who cut you off in traffic today. They make the everyday hassles of life just a little easier to bear. After all, going down in the pit of darkness for a period of time will make you face the light of day with a little more gratitude.
And when the horror is written down, it’s contained and under control. Writing horror lets me face the shadows and the monsters under the bed, to cage them in my words.
And that’s the best way to deal with monsters.