Why Do I Write Horror?
By Matt Wildasin
That is a good question. I guess I should look way back to my ignorant younger years. When I was young, I really was not a fan of scary stuff. I remember one of my first instances of horror: my family used to go on trips to Ocean City, Maryland, and, back in those days, there was a haunted house attraction on the boardwalk. I can still picture the giant rubber bat that sat above the sign. Well, on one of our visits, my older brother pressured me to go on the ride. I reluctantly agreed and this experience didn’t help me get over my fear of…well, fear. But, it did instil an appreciation for the art behind scaring others.
It wasn’t until years later that I stumbled upon the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. These little nuggets of ghastly goodness for kids changed me. The art of the book drew me in, as I assume it did most kids. Then there were the stories. Oh man, the short stories within these books were amazing. They ranged in everything from ghost stories, urban legends to even some cosmic-style horror.
I think one of my favorite tales was ‘Wait ’till Martin Comes.‘ I loved how the story was simply about a man seeking refuge in an abandoned home. Then, cats start showing up one by one. Eventually, they mentioned Martin, but they had to wait to set whatever they were going to do for when Martin arrived. The idea of not knowing what these cats were going to do to this man was very effective. Your mind filled the gaps; it made you think of what horrifying acts these felines could muster. I still own my original copies of these books that I had purchased at a book fair while attending a Catholic school. Yeah, I can’t believe they let me have them either.
Fast forward to eighth grade when I got to attend a sleepover with some of my best friends. The night was going pretty normal, then someone whipped out Jason goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Now, despite reading some light horror fiction, I hadn’t been a huge fan of horror movies. The closest thing to horror I would watch was Godzilla films and, even then, I had constant nightmares of Godzilla rising from the distant vista beyond my home and hunting me down. So, you could imagine how excited I was to see an actual horror flick.
I didn’t want to seem like a wimp in front of all of my friends, however, so I planned to tough it out by tucking myself into the corner of a couch with a pillow handy to shield my eyes from the menacing film. Well, the VHS tape whirred to life in the old VCR, the lights dimmed down and before I knew it I was watching my first Friday the 13th film of my life. Needless to say, I didn’t have to shield my eyes; I loved every second! It took some time before I was able to watch more of these movies at home, since I had lived a fairly sheltered life, but I eventually worked my way through all of the Friday the 13th movies. With that, Jason Vorhees easily became my favorite horror icon.
At that time, horror was becoming a staple in my life and I was looking for something more adult to read besides Scary Stories. I remember for my final in eighth grade we were allowed to do a report on whatever book we fancied, so I chose Stephen King’s Cujo. This book made me fall in love with Stephen King. I went on to read Insomniac after that, followed by It. I hopped from book to book in Stephen King’s library until one day in high school a friend of mine asked me, “You ever read any Lovecraft?”
This changed everything. The Call of Cthulhu was naturally the first story I read. I admit, it took me a couple of reads to completely get a picture in my head as to what Lovecraft was trying to portray, but, when his style became second nature to me, it was a breeze. At the Mountains of Madness, Dagon, The Colour Out of Space…man, so many good tales! Cosmic horror quickly became one of my favorite genres to read and I searched high and low to find any collections of H.P. Lovecraft works that I could. To this day, cosmic horror is an enormous part of my life and I use elements of it in almost everything I write.
That sums up a quick background as to how I got into the horror genre.
Now, the first story I attempted to write came around the time when The Crow: City of Angels came out. I remember being so disappointed with the movie that I decided I could write a better synopsis, so I did. I can’t remember the main character’s name, but this incarnation of the Crow was a dealer junkie that at the age of 30 still lived in his parent’s garage. His burnout girlfriend visited one day with an ultimatum that included an option for getting cleaned up and living a good life with plenty of money. Well, if you know how The Crow movies go, you know this deal went south and he ended up coming back from the dead. Except, this time, the Crow had amnesia due to his constant drug use and had to piece together why he was brought back. Sadly, I never finished it.
So, I guess I should get to the question at hand: why do I write horror? Well, with the background I gave you, I feel like I sort of answered this already. I like writing horror because, no matter what age you are, horror grips you and never let’s go. You enter into the genre never knowing what you’re going to get into and then it makes you its bitch. If you can make it through the trials, horror will welcome you with open arms and introduce you to a bunch of fellow fanatics. Horror is an amalgamation of all different genres of film and literature. It can have drama, love, sadness, comedy and even warm-hearted moments; a total wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I write horror because… horror is life. Horror is around every corner and, whether you try to avoid it or embrace it, eventually it will sink its fangs into you.
I write horror because I want to feel alive. I want to tell a story that makes someone feel something. At the end of the day, I hope those stories can help you experience horror the same way I do.
To end, I want to thank Kendall Reviews and you, kind reader.
Horror author and a member of two podcasts: Grindcast the people’s pop-culture podcast and The Horror Show with Brian Keene.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_Wildasin
Grindcast: The official pop-culture podcast of the people!!!
The Horror Show: With Brian Keene
Welcome to Horrors Untold! This collection of six short horror stories is certain to send a chill down your spine. BEWARE! The stories in this book range from cosmic horror, ghost stories, slashers and many more horrifying tales. Be prepared to be scared!
You can buy Horrors Untold from Amazon UK & Amazon US
Great post! Indeed, horror courses through life, and we feel alive when there’s horror. Without horror, to me, stories go flat despite any expectations I had. So, Matt, your thoughts set me in a good place to write really mean, scary, and ultimately (if the reader hangs in there) enlightening stuff today. Thanks!