There are few faster ways to get a wary reaction from someone than to mention you write horror. Grotesque scenes from every slasher film the person has ever seen seem to flash past his or her eyes, culminating with the equivalent of “Oh, that stuff.” Cue dirty look. Because you must be some kind of sicko to create the same kind of content that conjured those nightmare images, right?
What many people don’t understand–even other writers–is that dark fiction carries a tremendous freedom with it. Instead of being tethered by the boundaries of everyday life, the author is free to bend and twist reality as he sees fit to tell the story. Anything and everything can happen as long as it makes sense within the constraints of the plot. All the writer has to do is sell it well and let the underlying sincerity of the themes carry the reader through. Getting to see how characters react to the impossible doesn’t hurt either.
Additionally, the horror genre is incredibly versatile because its themes can be mixed with almost any other literary niche. Science-fiction, coming of age stories, and even romances are frequently spliced with horror elements. This kind of flexibility is great for keeping writers interested in continuing to work in the genre as a whole because other areas can be explored without ditching what they’re used to altogether.
Writing horror is also a great venting system. No, this does not mean that the writer’s work is actually some kind of desperate cry for help before he or she puts a meat cleaver to someone’s head. Rather, it means that at least some of the negative energy in his or her life has been released in a constructive way. Virtually every horror writer I’ve ever met has been incredibly gracious and helpful, and I don’t doubt that part of that comes from letting out a good scream through his or her fingertips now and then.
So, cheers if you decide to join our ranks or at least respect the people in them. After all, we all have a dark side. Some of us just choose to give it a voice now and then.