Why Do I Write Horror?
By Phil Sloman
- Print Length: 82 pages
- Publisher: Hersham Horror Books (July 12, 2019)
I blame the seventies and eighties. Back when we had all those glorious public service advertisements about Frisbees caught in electricity pylons, kids getting mown down on railway tracks and Charlie saying that no matter what we did the Grim Reaper was going to come down on us like a tonne of bricks whether we liked it or not. Basically, we were fucked. And this was before you factored in the omnipresent threat of nuclear war. When the Wind Blows and Threads were the programmes they showed us at school as part of our curriculum alongside books like Z for Zachariah. That was when they weren’t teaching us to paint our windows white and angle a door at a 45 degree angle to use as part of a shelter for when the bombs dropped. Plus back then Doctor Who was definitely pitched at the darker side of the spectrum as was a lot of children’s television. If you’re not sure you agree, go back and watch Snakedance and tell me that wasn’t a storyline designed to scare the crap out of children of all ages.
But loads of other kids grew up through all that, so what else brought me to this wonderful genre of horror and tempted me to put words down on the page.
I was always a voracious reader, devouring books at a rate of knots. We weren’t a particularly bookish family but reading was something I latched on to with glee. Peter Pan is the first book I remember having as a kid, an abridged version for small children, progressing on to books like The Three Musketeers and other classics. Fantasy was my first love, Lord of the Rings, the Dragonlance books, loads of pulp books of which I have sadly forgotten the names, but read alongside people like Conan Doyle and, without evening realising it to be horror, Edgar Allen Poe who I share a birthday with (perhaps there is something about being a winter birthday). I dabbled in reading science fiction, John Christopher’s The Tripods Trilogy (wish they’d finished the TV series), John Wyndham (and back to scary TV, I remember watching the Day of the Triffids adaptation from the BBC when I was about 10 or so which completely freaked me), a bit of Arthur C Clark and a further dive into the world of pulp, before the world of horror came calling again. For reasons I cannot remember, my friend Phil wanted to make a horror film and asked me to help him write it. This was at somewhere around the age of 14. Phil was a lover of all the 80s slasher style films, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday 13th, Child’s Play and so on. I was starting to discover the wonderful Ghost Stories for Christmas filmed by Lawrence Gordon Clark, something of a Christmas Eve tradition when the BBC used to screen them and it is great to see Mark Gatiss bringing that tradition back. Now the script was very much summer camp kids being stalked and I would imagine it to be dreadful if revisited yet it sparked my imagination. I started to seek out more horror and went on a journey taken by many others going from King to Barker. Barker was the revelation for me in college. This was when I discovered the Books of Blood, this amazing telling of tales which seemed so real and normal to me, that wonderful blurring of the normal with the uncanny. Dread is perhaps my favourite from the Books, though I could easily choose half a dozen and a dozen more on top. Dread plays with the human psyche, not just how much we can take before we crack but also how far an obsession can take us too.
And it is human nature which fuels my stories and my love of horror. It removes the masks we all wear and exposes us warts and all. As a child I remember having nightmares about a face being peeled back to reveal another face, to be peeled back to reveal another face, to be peeled back to reveal another face, until eventually, when the spiralling nightmare concludes, there is no face at all, just a white featureless visage (perhaps influenced by The Signalman and back to those Ghost Stories for Christmas). I am sure a psychiatrist would have a field day with those dreams. Maybe it was something underlying in my psyche, maybe it was just a recurring dream of a child trying to understand the world. Maybe it was nothing.
And now I write to explore what goes on behind our masks. What goes on behind my mask. Write what you know, they say. I called my collection Broken on the Inside because I think we are all a little broken. I know I am and struggle with life at times, trying to look for answers in a world where perhaps there are none. For those of you that have it all sussed, I salute you!
Broken On The Inside
KR: I can’t feature Phil on Kendall Reviews without mentioning his book, Broken On The Inside. You can read my review HERE. I really can’t recommend this book enough, it featured on my ‘Best Of 2018’ list which you can read HERE.
Phil Sloman is a writer of dark psychological fiction. He was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Society Best Newcomer award in 2017 for his novella Becoming David.
His short stories can be found throughout various anthologies and his collection Broken on the Inside has received widespread praise.
In the humdrum of everyday life, Phil lives with an understanding wife and a trio of vagrant cats who tolerate their human slaves. There are no bodies buried beneath the patio as far as he is aware.
You can find out more about Phil via his official blog www.insearchofperdition.blogspot.com
You can follow Phil on Twitter @phil_sloman
The Sixth anthology in our PentAnth range brings you five more chilling tales that have their roots in the dark terrors that lurk in the woods.