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:

About cmsaunders

I write stuff. Pretty much any stuff. My fiction and non-fiction has appeared in over a hundred publications worldwide and my books have been both traditionally and independently published. My first book, Into the Dragon's Lair – A Supernatural History of Wales was published back in 2003, and I've worked extensively in the freelance journalism industry, contributing features to numerous international publications including Fortean Times, Bizarre, Urban Ink, Loaded, Record Collector, Maxim, and a regular column to the Western Mail newspaper. I lived in China for over nine years where I taught English at universities in Beijing, Changsha and Guangzhou during my search for enlightenment, before moving back to the UK in January 2013 to work as staff writer on Nuts magazine. Later, I was senior writer on Forever Sports magazine, associate editor at a shortlived title called Coach, and I currently write business news for a trade magazine about the plastics industry. It's far more satisfying than it sounds. My latest fiction releases have been Human Waste (on Deviant Dolls Publications) and X5, my fifth collection of short fiction. I also edit, proofread, ghost write, and drink far too much craft beer. View all posts by cmsaunders

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