Some people think that horror authors are nestled at the bottom of the literary barrel with the discarded bones, residual muck and furry mold. People who don't "get it" often ask: "Why horror?" as if we have a choice. Like maybe we woke up one day and said to ourselves, "You know, maybe I should write something. What genre should I choose? Hmmm... I know! I'll write horror."
Nope. Doesn't work that way. Not for me, and not for most authors in our field. It's a passion that, for many of us, started when we were youngins. Some authors dabble in many genres, but many of us who write horror have no choice. I've started so many dramatic stories with the intention to stay away from the gruesome stuff and every time, by the end of the story, someone died, blood was shed, or it became horrific in one way or the other. It's in my DNA.
So how does one get into horror? I blame Fangoria and my good friend Jon, both of which were catalysts for what became my passion for horror and the macabre. Also, good ol' video stores. I didn't get into reading until I read Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" in Jr. high, but I was a fan of horror long before that.
On the playground at school my buddy Jon would tell me about Freddy Kruger. He'd seen several of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and he would tell me all about them. It would be a while before I saw A Nightmare on Elm Street, but I couldn't wait. Back in those days my mother would pick me up from after school day care and sometimes stop by the market on the way home. I hovered over the magazine rack while she shopped, face planted firmly in the latest issue of Fangoria. I went home with horrors in my head, bouncing around the ethers of my mind. Sometimes after dinner I would go out in the backyard and wander around, thinking about the gruesome stuff I'd seen in Fangoria, making up my own stories for Freddy and Leatherface.
Little did I know, that at that young age, I was creating. Yes, the stories in my mind were "fan fiction" based on characters of which I had never actually seen on screen, but they were stories nonetheless. My mind was something I used a lot, being an only child. I came up with all kinds of stories, some of which I have actually written all these years later.
As a young teen I pretty much rented every movie in the horror section at our several video stores along 2nd Street. Favorites included Hellraiser, Dead Alive, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead, Halloween, The Toxic Avenger and many others. I watched all the sequels, the crappy direct to video releases and even the older cult classics, which eventually became my preference. I'm a sucker for sixties and seventies horror cinema.
Once I discovered the written word via Shirley Jackson, HP Lovecraft, Stephen King and Clive Barker, I was hooked. What once was a cinematic gorehound had quickly become a voracious reader. I only wish there had been someone there to lead me to some authors other than the bestsellers. I wish I'd been a more diverse reader back then. But that's another subject for another blog post.
Those are my horror origins condensed into a few paragraphs.