3.17.2012

The Horror Author Who Hasn't Written a Horror Book

It's true. I haven't written a horror novel. I haven't even attempted one yet. A look at my site's portfolio shows a short list of novel projects either completed or in development. There is urban fantasy, dieselpunk, science fiction, and contemporary fantasy. Most of them are pretty dark, but they can't rightfully be called horror.

And yet, if you glance down at the list of short stories, you'll find several horror titles. It appears I've "mastered" the genre to some extent in the short form, and that is where the scary storyteller in me has lived for a number of years.

But why no horror novels? I love reading them. I've been influenced by a great many as well. Through my teenage years, my bookshelves were filled with the likes of King, Straub, Barker, Saul, Matheson, McCammon. And even a few Koontz. I've since gone on to brand myself as a writer following in similar footsteps. But I've since discovered something over the years.

Writing horror is difficult for me, particularly in an emotional sense. When I write my horror short stories, I breath a sigh of relief when they are done. It's like sticking a toe into a pool of piranha just long enough to avoid being shredded. Horror requires you to go to very dark places, and because the hallmark of the genre is that the ending is often left unresolved (or just plain dreadful in some cases), there is no sense of hope awaiting you or the characters you've been riding along with for the past few months.

It's why I can easily explore a small horror space, but why I have yet to venture into the vast and cavernous depths of frightening long form. Or why, in my longer work, you'll only find certain scenes or themes that befit the genre.

I'm not sure if I'll write a horror novel anytime soon, and to tell you the truth, I haven't had a fully fleshed idea come to me yet. But when one does, I look forward to seeing how well I do. Will it be a slasher or a demonic tale? Creature feature or psychological nightmare? Hard to say. For now, the terror only seems to be coming to me in small doses, and as always, I sprinkle them judiciously and hope I give you at least a chill or two.

UPDATE: Since writing this blog, I have started a horror novel. If you want to read Part II of this series, click here.