Why Do I Write Horror?
By Alyson Faye
This whole writing horror thing wasn’t a life goal or even the only genre I ever read as a kid. It has crept up on me though and now it’s got a grip it’s not letting go.
However, I was a voracious reader, a bookish child, always skulking in the library at weekends. I did have a fondness for spooky ghost stories and remember loving Susan Cooper’s quintet of fantasy/magic/horror books The Dark is Rising and Penelope Lively’s time slip/ghost tales, eg The Ghost of Thomas Kempe.
Years later my 11-year old’s memory of the seriously scary Rider from Cooper’s second book plus the legend of Herne the Hunter, inspired my Gothic horror story, Night of the Rider, published by Demain as an e-book.
Films have been an important part of my life and cultural history. I’ve always been a film buff, staying up late to watch, on my black and white portable telly, the late-night BBC seasons of Hammer, Hitchcock, (my first viewing of Psycho blew me away), and a 1940’s filmmaker Val Lewton, who turned out a series of startlingly creepy black and white films, with titles like The Body Snatcher and Cat People being two of them. I’d never even heard of zombies until I watched the 1943 I Walked with a Zombie.
I adored Dr Who and Space 1999, both sci-fi shows, but with dollops of horror. The sight of Davros in his Dalek wheelchair combo struck terror into my ten-year-old heart.
Being scared by books and films, yet being safe, while you experience that dreadful spine chilling tingle, is a huge part of the attraction of horror as entertainment and being able to provide that moment for the reader/viewer is, for me, much of the attraction.
I like to be thrilled and gripped, so a nice story about sweet folk in a lovely village somewhere isn’t going to do it for me. So I write the sort of stories I’d want to read and hope that others will enjoy them too.
The moment when the Phantom’s mask is torn away revealing his horrific face has stayed with me and ripping off the layers is very much what you do as a horror writer. Showing what is underneath or outside the ‘normal’ parameters of life; what might happen when the lights go out, when the rats mutate, when the virus infects the population when the ghost rises at midnight- these are exciting scenarios and challenges.
Normal is boring. Who wants that?
I started writing flash fiction pieces (i.e. under 500 words) most of which were dark in tone and mood, with disturbing twists. My début flash collection, Badlands, published by Chapel Town Books in 2018 showcases 35 of these.
From there I began to write longer stories, often set in the Victorian era, which I have an affection for. My degree was in History many moons ago and those years of gaslight, steam engines, smog, scientific discoveries, seances and horse-drawn vehicles give me, as a writer, much scope to explore. They might only be 100 odd years away from us in time, but the Victorians were a very different species.
People are surprised that as a woman I write horror; the usual assumption is that I write chick lit- I must come over that way at first acquaintance! Horror provokes raised eyebrows and a hasty retreat. Horror isn’t somehow feminine – even in 2019.
How can you write such horrible things? I get asked often. But what I write is fiction, not fact and horror stories hold a mirror up to our society’s current concerns and obsessions but allow us to push the boundaries of good taste and show what might happen if . . .
I say to new writers – write what you enjoy, write what you would like to read, don’t be put off trying to write for a genre you’re not comfortable in, or what you think you should write. Be true to your own inner writing voice. If it tells you to write horror (and there are many subcategories of style and content within that umbrella) then write horror.
You can find out more about Alyson via her blog www.alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com.
Alyson’s Amazon Author Page is at HERE
Please follow Alyson on Twitter @AlysonFaye2
Night Of The Rider
No one escapes the mythic cursed Rider and his hounds. Barnabas, fleeing London and his gambling debts, takes refuge in his family’s country home with his father and his sister, Leonie. She has her own secrets, but can she save her brother from certain death?