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.