The ‘H’ Word

I’ve lost count of the amount of times people have asked me why I write ‘horror.’ It comes up in every interview, and eventually most conversations. I guess it’s the obvious question to ask, but I’ve always found it a difficult one to answer. Firstly, I hate the H word. There are so many dimensions and sub-genres involved, the H word has become kind of a catch-all umbrella term. Asking google to find you a horror book is a bit like going into the finest restaurant in the world and asking for some food. Or calling up your local radio station and asking them to play some music. What do zombies, ghosts, werewolves, vampires, demonic entities, possession, serial killers, monsters, and haunted houses all have in common? That’s right, you can find them all in the horror section. But in most cases, the similarities end there.

I’m not a big fan of classifying anything, to be honest. It’s restrictive and fills the prospective reader’s mind full of semi-fixed ideas. I know it makes it easier when you are looking for something in particular. In theory, anyway. But most things in this brave new world we’ve created just don’t belong in tidy little labelled boxes.

If I had to choose a tag for my writing, I would probably go for ‘dark fiction.’ Because it’s fiction, and most of it is pretty damn dark. At the same time, though, a lot of my stories contain evidence of what one reviewer called ‘sardonic humour,’ so its not all doom and gloom. I can usually find something to poke fun at. My new novella, Out of Time, has elements of horror, thriller and science fiction, all rolled up into a murder mystery. If you look closely enough you might even find a giggle or two.

Out of Time

Out of Time

Another reason I don’t care for the ‘H word’ is that the genre is rarely taken very seriously in literary circles, apart from the classics like Dracula and Frankenstein. When was the last time a piece of horror fiction won one of the big awards? Most critics treat it like a snot-nosed little brother who spends all his time locked in his room listening to Slipknot and smoking weed. That isn’t entirely fair. Use caution, critics. Because if you ignore him for too long that snot-nosed little brother, frustrated and disaffected, might just scale the walls of your ivory tower and slice your throat while you are asleep in your bed. You have been warned.

The original version of this post appeared here:

http://www.rainstormpress.com/blog/-the-h-word-by-chris-saunders

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About cmsaunders

I am a writer. I write. My dark fiction has appeared in Asphalt Jungle, Raw Nerve, Roadworks, Dark Valentine, Screams of Terror, Shallow Graves, Fantastic Horror, Unbroken Water and several anthologies. My first book, Into the Dragon's Lair – A Supernatural History of Wales was published in 2003, and I have also worked extensively in the freelance journalism industry, contributing features to numerous international publications including Fortean Times, Bizarre, Urban Ink, Loaded, Record Collector, Maxim, Nuts, and a regular column to the Western Mail newspaper. I lived in China for over five years where I taught English during my search for enlightenment, before moving back to the UK in January 2013 to work for a men's lifestyle magazine. I was senior writer on Forever Sports magazine and associate editor at Coach magazine, before leaving to chance my arm in the world of pro freelance. In recent times I have devoted more time to dark fiction, my latest offerings being the contemporary ghost story Sker House and No Man's Land: Horror in the Trenches. I am represented by Media Bitch Literary Agency and drink far too much coffee. View all posts by cmsaunders

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