In my last post, I talk about why I read horror. I also admit it’s not my favorite genre to read.

So why write it?

The first answer is simple pragmatism. An editor makes an offer to pay me to write a horror story?

Horror it is!

I’m not, however, the kind of person who finds it easy to do something just for money. As I write about elsewhere, I have to care about the things I work on. During the first year of the Edge of Propinquity, I made a point of devouring more horror than I had in years, working to learn the genre, what I liked, what I disliked, where I could go.

What I enjoy:

  • A personal stake in the protagonist’s dilemma
  • Some sympathy for the antagonist’s plans
  • Speaking to a part of the human condition
  • Speaking to some element of society that has broken
  • A leavening of action and adventure

That last one is not necessary for me to enjoy a good read, mind you. However, I find it difficult at this stage of my development to write anything as clear and direct as Russell or Ballingrud – though I have made the effort in my story Splendid Isolation, appearing in 100 Doors to Madness, which is unencumbered by the trappings of high action.

Earlier posts talk about my creation of Gordon Velander and the Gentleman Ghouls. FAMISHED: THE COMMONS reveals more of the breadth and depth of the world of the Ghouls, and FAMISHED: THE RANCH will complete the arc at some time in the future.

As to the human condition, FAMISHED was praised by reviewers for its themes of isolation and family. I’ve made nods in different directions with other work, but it’s safe to say that exploring isolation and its effects on the human psyche takes up a good portion of my time.

As to society: See “family” above, as well as the effects of over-consumption and the human desire to establish control.

Others might find the same exploration of the human psyche in non-genre fiction, or in historical pieces. Many of the greatest science fiction writers and essayists of all time spent their lives focused on societal ills, real, imagined, or potential.

In short – establishing the things you enjoy reading allows you to write more effectively. What I enjoy has turned to the shadowy side of societal and psychological issues, and the fact that I find a personal catharsis in the darker elements of those explorations has made horror a good place for me today.