Exploring the Appeal of Horror
A Guest Post by A.F. Stewart
What is it about the horror genre that fascinates? Why do people watch scary movies or read nightmare-inducing books? What deep, dark recess of our minds gets a thrill from those terrifying frights and chills that invade our brains?
To me, the appeal of horror is a bit of a dichotomy. As a reader and viewer, I tend to steer clear of horror novels and movies, finding them far too scary (yes, I am a chicken), but as a writer I delve into that world with gusto.
So what attracts me, the self-proclaimed chicken, to write in the horror genre?
I think part of it is the exploration of the unknown, that siren call of the unfathomable darkness, be it the black madness of a human brain or those bone-chilling terrors that go bump in the night. To play with those possibilities as a writer is most tempting. It is a risk free chance to howl at the moon, to wander into that dark alley where a killer waits, or rub shoulders with the denizens of Hell.
But why should all that appeal to me? Shouldn’t a sane person (and maybe there is some doubt on my sanity) want to run from such things, to crave writing about the lighter side of life, not the dark?
Possibly, but in my writing I’ve always felt you shouldn’t ignore something because it might be less than ideal, or even horrible. Why not delve into it, discover its inner workings, and display its shocking revulsion for all to see. And maybe, subconsciously, I feel more at ease with horror if I can control it. It’s also cathartic, a way of channeling those daily frustrations and resentments by cutting a literary swath of blood and guts through my stories. Of course, it could be I simply like killing off my characters, a sort of literary lining up the dominoes to knock them down. Whatever the reason, I know I do enjoy writing horror stories, and my audience enjoys reading them.
So, what do I think is the answer to the fascination people have with the horror genre? Conceivably it’s just a rush of chemicals in our brain, a feel-good cocktail to counteract the fright. However, it might be something more sinister, that little touch of our bad side peeking through. Do we really feel a secret exhilaration from vicariously living the fictional villainy? Or maybe the secret is something else entirely. Maybe we need it. Perhaps, knowing real horrors exist in the world, we need to escape into safe ones, ones we can tuck back onto the shelf, in order to keep our (doubtful) sanity.
Killers and Demons II: They Return
A Horror Collection by A.F. Stewart
Evil is back, with a greater appetite for death.
They lurk forever in the shadows, smile at you in the morning, and haunt your dreams at night. You can’t hide, you can’t run, and there’s no escape. You can only scream when they come for you.
Killers and Demons II: They Return is a collection of thirteen tales, blending short stories and flash fiction, tales where the blood lingers on your tongue or spurts quickly from the swift cut.
The Villainous Roster:
Wade, every parent’s nightmare
Hannah and Mr. Greeley. Who is the victim and who is the villain?
Simon and Zoe, a married couple who are dying to be single again.
Norman and his “cookie” of a wife, Mabel.
Millicent and Jane, a delightful duo you shouldn’t invite to your Regency tea party
Amanda, who literally has a skeleton in her closet
Balthazar, the demon bounty hunter on the hunt once more.
Sarah, a young woman going through some changes and craving new tastes
Emmeline, burned as a witch, now back from the dead for revenge
Gabrielle, a woman haunted by shadows
The Dollmaker, she showers death, and an umbrella won’t help
Nightmare Demons, bent on driving a town insane
And then there’s Alice, a little girl locked in the basement by her Daddy…
Together they form a spine-chilling cadre of predators.
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About A.F. Stewart:
A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she has always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She is fond of good books (especially science fiction/fantasy), action movies, sword collecting, and oil painting as a hobby.
Ms. Stewart is an indie author with several published novellas and story collections in the dark fantasy or horror genres, with a few side trips into poetry and non-fiction. She has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.
Her stories have also been published by Xchyler Publishing in the anthology Mechanized Masterpieces, and an upcoming paranormal anthology to be released this fall. In addition, she has the privilege to be a part of the charity anthologies: Coffin Hop: Death by Drive-In, Christmas Lites III, and the upcoming Christmas Lites IV.
You can find Ms. Stewart on twitter as @scribe77; on Facebook as A.F. Stewart; her blog, Are You Afraid of the Dark?; plus peruse a list of her other regular haunts on about.me