Love, Hate, and Evolution

Here’s the deal with the horror genre, it is a love-hate kind of gig.  The audience either loves the genre or they hate it.  Sadly, this is one of the reasons why horror is not a genre that is typically on the forefront.  On Amazon, it is not even a featured genre under the book category.  You have to drill down through other genres to uncover a horror gem.  Essentially, it takes a special kind of person to love horror.  I attribute this to the fact that the genre is so personal.  In some way, shape, or form each horror story affects every human that comes in contact with it, whether it is through literature or film.  The fear indicator can range from an increased heart rate or it can be a holy-shit-I-feel-faint type of emotion.  Every person is going to react and relate.

Fear is ingrained in all of us.  It is the strongest and oldest emotion.  Fear is what keeps us alive.  Horror is the only personal genre that can touch the true inner emotions of anyone who interacts with with the story.

Many people do not want to touch horror.  They do not want to stir up their ‘Fight or Flight’ reaction that is induced by fright.  They want to stay safe and cozy.  This is going to be the type of audience that the horror genre will not impact.  This audience does not even want to give it a passing glance.  As horror writers, we have to accept that.  Voluntarily “getting scared silly” is not everyone’s cup of tea.  And that is ok.  We all have things that we avoid and don’t enjoy.  I am not a huge fan of romance and usually avoid it (sorry, Kirsten Blacketer).

As crafters of horror, we need to accept that not everyone is going to like us.  I read a quote the other morning:

Never try to please everyone. Your goal should be to become the hated enemy of certain kinds of people.

— Unknown Author

I am torn about wanting to be hated or not. To be hated because your writing or you book sucks is bad.  To be hated because the book scares the ever living shit out of your readers is good.  I can live with being hated for the latter.  The thing is, if your stories are being “hated” because they are the most terrifying tales to grace this plane of the Earth, that is going to boost your marketing.  There is a huge audience out there looking for the most horrific story in existence.  Hopefully, that that group outweighs the “haters”.

This is the nature of this writing beast — you are not going to please everyone.  And you shouldn’t.  The whole reason why we write is to write for ourselves.  I mean, yea, we want to put a good book out there that is successful, but in the end that book is an extension of our self.  That book needs to be what we, as the author, desires.

Hopefully I am not making horror sound like the despondent genre of literature and film.  Truly it is far from that.  In the next few years there is going to be an even bigger resurgence of the genre.  Horror is in a small lull now, but it will spike back up soon.  I believe that a good portion of this spike is going to be attributed to  (dare I say it…) the tween and teen Twilight fandom and other such paranormal YA followers.  The Twilighter-for-life fans are growing up and they are going to find that there are darker, sinful, and more luscious men out there than Edward Cullen.  Men like the real Dracula, who does not sparkle.

The younger generations are going to want stories that reflect their maturity as they age.  They will desire that same spark that was forged when they read their first paranormal YA.  That spark that ignited the emotion of fear and suspense which tied them closer to the story, making it personal, making it their own.  The new age of readers want to be a part of the story, and horror is the best genre in which that can be accomplished.

The YA’s of today are going to drive the adult genres of tomorrow.

So is this the way to R'lyeh?

So is this the way to that R’lyeh place that I have been hearing about? (c) JessicaGale



5 thoughts on “Love, Hate, and Evolution

  1. A very well argued piece. I always thought horror readers are special people. It takes some balls and a lot of wisdom to face such possibilities as presented in a work of horror. And as we agreed earlier, horror is the only genre that truly reflects human life. The rest are speculations. Inside a human being there is something unnamed and unnameable. It is dark, it is terrible, and it is terrified like hell. Before it can be tamed, it will make a toddler swallow a razor or try to, stick her hands in a stove, set himself on fire, or drown. It makes teething babies bite down hard on their mother’s nipples. I have witnessed these things and wondered at them. Babies and toddlers should be angels, but give a toddler your iPad and see what happens to it. This is rudimentary pristine horror, that one so fresh and innocent and lovely can harbor such inimical monstrosity in him/her.
    As we grow we are trained to turn aside from this thing, to shun it, tame it, ignore it, conquer it–something we can only try, though with limited success. People crowd accident scenes and linger there; we are inspired more by opposition than agreement; nasty news excite us beyond reason; and we react to abuses and criticisms as though they make more sense to us than kindness and praise. And to paraphrase Dean Koontz, pain fosters focus. People are more mindful, focused, understanding, unified, and even loving, when subjected to situations that evoke sensations of pity, pain, terror, hardship, etc.
    I don’t know why some people swear they do not read or watch horror yet they fit these definitions. I think they are hiding inside, hiding aplenty, and terrified of the all-encompassing fate of mankind. There is no happy ending here. No meaning. You can come, but you can’t leave.
    But then, who likes the truth? I think truth is only good when it is used to hurt somebody else–a fact which itself is scary.


    • I always look forward to seeing your comments. Very true words. There is something about horror that is attention grabbing. It is the fear of the unknown that sparks the inquiry. People are always going to look at it – even those who say that they don’t watch or read, they are looking. They want to know what is really going on. That is the quizzical nature towards reality.

      There is always a good and a bad side to everything, even little angelic kids. They have a dark side too… we all have a dark side…

      “You can come, but you can’t leave” – as soon as I read this, I started singing Hotel California by the Eagles: “You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave! “


      • “You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!”
        That’s really spooky! It’s like you leave your soul there. And any paths you take thereafter will lead you back to it. Crazy.
        Well, as you say, imagination is the best tool for terror!


  2. I think this is a great dissection of how various people reaction to horror in writing. I find it amazing that so many people like Edgar Allen Poe, who wrote great horror. Do you think perhaps the reason is that what he wrote was less graphic and more left to the imagination?


    • That is the very point as to why people are so drawn to him. He gets inside the reader’s head and wreaks havoc with terror and mayhem.

      The blood and guts, while sometime necessary, is superficial. It is being visually played out on the pages. When you close the book, the gore stays within the book. In contrast to that, when the horror plays out with in the readers mind, that sticks with them – even after the book is shelved. That is where the horror makes the best impact.

      I always say the imagination is the best tool for fear.


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