WHY I WRITE HORROR
The other day, I was asked the question on-line, “What genres to you write and why.” I’m sure I’ve alluded to all of them here and there throughout my two-plus years on this web site, but it’s time to address them directly. When I went back over my 171 posts, I could’ve swore I’d already posted this one. I wrote it back in 2012, but somehow it slipped through the cracks and never made it onto the site. It’s a little long but with some updates and edits, it’ll give you the detailed rundown on how and why I got into writing icky bug. I’ll follow it with articles on why I write in the other genres. It may help inspire you, or it may simply preach to the choir. At least it will give you a look inside my head and personal experiences.
I grew up in the late 50’s, early 60’s, at a time when paranoia was rampant in American society. The Cold War was at a peak, the threat of nuclear annihilation just a pushbutton away. The fear of the unknown came not from just that monster under the bed, but a mutant freak created by radioactivity. We had this pounded into our heads on a daily basis with advertisements for bomb shelters, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and my favorite, bomb and earthquake drills (since I also lived in Southern Calee’fornia). We felt a lot safer diving under a desk when the 100 megaton Tzar Bomba went off just across the road.
Hollywood proved to be fertile ground, with countless monsters created by mutations from radiation, or aliens coming from space to threaten our nuclear ambitions. Of course, along with that were the standard Dracula, Wolfman and Mummy to add to the mix.
For a young preteen, it freaked me out to the point I was scared of my own shadow. My cousin would force me to watch monster movies whenever we’d visit my grandpa in Playa del Rey, Calee’fornia. I was exposed to the “worst” Hollywood had to offer. When I became a basket case, my grandpa had enough of that, dragged me to a movie lot and showed me the fakery behind it. On top of that, my dad made a big deal of pointing out errors in movies. One day it finally clicked and I became a hard-core fan. I couldn’t get enough of those B-movie horror classics. The rubber monsters, the “inverted-ice-cream-cone” thing with seaweed hair, the gorilla suit with a diving helmet… the list goes on. One particular memory was the monster trading cards with bubblegum. They had the likes of Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, all the classics. Let’s just say, I was never scared again.
MY WRITING TAKES OFF
I write in multiple genres. Horror, or as I call it, icky bug, is one of them. One thing that’s common to all of them is that all of my stories are adventures. When I write icky bug, it’s still an adventure, just a scary, humorous adventure. It may not scare me, but if it scares my audience, so much the better.
When I started writing, my second novel became icky bug. At the time I read a lot of that genre by the likes of Dean Koontz (before he went sappy), Elizabeth Forrest and R. Karl Largent. I wanted to add to that genre. I also intended to create stories that harkened back to the monster B-movies of my childhood (since all of these authors drifted into other genres) – movies that I could only find in the cheap rental section at the video store. Movies that are now staples of Saturday evenings on the SyFy channel. Some may call them science fiction instead of horror, a misnomer.
WHAT DO I CONSIDER GOOD ICKY BUG?
I’ve read lots of horror, and what I consider good icky bug horror is a bit different from what many consider the mainstream genre nowadays. There are so many subgenres of horror, that I can’t even count them all. Most of them, I don’t care for. There’s slasher horror, which to me, is just extreme crime drama, more over-the-top than a typical detective story (many times without a detective at all). This is where the killer goes to extremes to torture and “off” their victims and the hero is just some poor schmuck trying to get away. To me, that’s not horror, it’s simply horrifying. In many of those stories, the hero dies. There’s no payoff. Call it extreme suspense.
Then there’s vampire horror. To me, that genre is just bloody romance. It’s not the least bit horrifying or scary. It deserves respect as a genre all to itself, but not as horror. There are a few exceptions including They Hunger, by Scott Nicholson. Now THAT is good icky bug.
Then there’s supernatural and ghost horror. That genre is horror and can be extremely scary, especially since many people believe in ghosts and there may be some legitimacy behind it. In its own way, it IS icky bug, just without the actual monsters unless you consider the ghosts as the icky bugs. When the ghosts manifest as monsters, well… there you go.
Some authors ramble forever. Their horror is really a literate character study built around a horrifying plot of some kind. Nothing happens for chapter after chapter. I’m not a fan of that. I won’t mention names, but there are some big writers out there (one with the initials SK… cough cough) that are famous for that. More power to them, but I’m not a fan. I like the author to get to the point. Nuff said about that.
My specialty is monster horror (icky bug), often with a supernatural element. There’s a monster or monsters creating mayhem and the hero or heroine must overcome the odds to save the day. The story is scary but it’s also an adventure. It’s about the protagonist and his or her friends. They have to figure out how to kick butt and take names, while fighting insurmountable odds, weird circumstances, and trying to keep the body count to a minimum.
MY FAVORITE TONGUE IN CHEEK DEFINITION
The inspiration for this definition derived from some good old boy talking about Texas barbecue and defining it as having a bunch of flies around. I don’t remember the exact quote.
My Laugh Out Loud definition of good Icky Bug is: The monster has to eat half the characters, they say f… a lot and there’s gratuitous sex that has nothing to do with the plot!
Okay, I’m not too far off on a lot of B movies, am I?
IT GETS DOWN TO THIS
I write horror to take the reader on a fun and scary adventure, with a lot of humor. I’m not out to depress people or give them crazy ideas (as in slasher horror). If I make someone think twice about going in that bathroom at night, or opening that basement door, or unlocking the rusty padlock on that old trunk, so be it. The idea is to have fun and be entertained, not throw the book down and be depressed or pissed off when they reach the end. I want the reader to get to the last word with a smile on their face.
Shouldn’t some of that be the goal of any good book?