Why Do I Write Horror?
There are a lot of ways to approach this question. The obvious answer would be ‘Because I want to.’ But that would be overly simplistic. Looking at it, it also comes across as belligerent as hell and gives the reader nothing. An alternative would be ‘Because it’s what I read.’ But that’s only slightly less belligerent, and again gives the reader nothing. So I opted to think about it for a while.
And the more I thought about it, the more complex the answer, and the question, became. I realized that at some point in my life there had to be a defining moment. Some event that initially set me off on this dark path, rather than an alternative path lined with glitter, rainbows, dancing bunnies and jolly unicorns.
What could that defining moment be?
Maybe it was the time I sneaked into my older sister’s room to look for her diary, which I planned to use for extortion purposes, and found instead her collection of battered horror paperbacks. I was too young to appreciate the literary merits of said collection, and instead pored over the covers, one of which memorably portrayed a dude with a hatchet buried in his head.
Or was it being allowed as a pre-teen to watch An American Werewolf in London for the first time? On repeated viewings, I began to appreciate the humour in that movie. But back then, it was just horror. Pure, primal, pulse-quickening horror. Two scenes in particular stuck with me, and still do; the Nazi demon home invasion sequence and the chase through the London Underground. Coincidentally, when I moved to London to work for a magazine years later, that very underground station (Tottenham Court Road) was on my daily commute, and it was a strangely disconcerting experience interchanging there late at night.
Another trigger for my love of horror might have been listening to my ex-coal miner grandfather’s stories of the ghostly bwca he and his mates swore they heard deep in the bowels of the earth. Years later, I found that these stories were not unique to Welsh mines. Stephen King wrote about the same phenomena in The Tommyknockers. In fact, people hear the same phantom tapping and knocking noises underground all over the world and always have, yet nobody knows what causes them. That’s messed up.
Then again, perhaps growing up in a house which may or may not have had a resident poltergeist sparked my interest in horror and the paranormal. I’ve made my peace with that, and haven’t completely ruled out the theory that the activity was a manifestation of my own pubescent telekinetic energy, as per one of the main theories behind the poltergeist phenomenon.
On the other hand, my obsession with horror, the paranormal, and all aspects of the unexplained might be down to a huge wooden wardrobe in the back bedroom. Yeah, I think that was it. It certainly happened before any of those other things, and may well have influenced my thought process for evermore. Maybe if the Wardrobe Incident had never happened, none of those other things would have happened. Or at least, they would have happened differently.
So what happened, exactly?
To this day, I don’t even know.
But I know something happened.
One of my earliest memories is having some kind of bad experience with that damned wardrobe and being too young to run away. I remember sitting on the floor, the wardrobe towering menacingly over me, overcome with a feeling of helplessness. Then being perched at the top of the stairs, too little to tackle them by myself, yelling for my mother, and when she finally came being too traumatized to even articulate what had happened. All I could do was point.
It might have been something innocuous; a sudden breeze opening the door, gravity making something fall inside and make a noise. Heck, I might just have caught a fleeting glimpse of a rogue dormouse or something.
Or it could have been something so utterly terrifying that it became the reason why I refused to enter that room again, suffered from insomnia for years, and checked myself in to a kind of mental emergency room where my fractured mind sought to paper over the newly-formed cracks. That part of my memory is now hidden from view, obscured. Maybe it will come back one day, maybe it won’t.
Maybe I don’t want it to come back.
And that’s why I write horror.
The complete published short fiction of dark fiction writer C.M. Saunders taken from the pages of Raw Nerve, Roadworks, Dark Valentine, Fantastic Horror, Siren’s Call, Screams of Terror, Gore magazine, the Literary Hatchet and many more magazines, ezines and anthologies in one bumper volume.
Includes everything from the first three X collections of short fiction, the stand-alone Human Waste, and two bonus stories exclusive to this collection.
C.M. Saunders, is a freelance journalist and editor from Wales. His work has appeared in over 80 magazines, ezines and anthologies worldwide and his books have been both traditionally and independently published. His latest release is a bumper collection of short fiction called X: Omnibus.
You can follow C.M. on Twitter @CMSaunders01
You can visit C.M.’s Official Website here