Monday, January 04, 2010

The Horror

She looked at me. "So, um, what do you write?"

I wanted to say: "Fantasy. Dark fiction. Black comedy. Mysteries. Thrillers. It depends... all sorts of genre." What I said was: "Horror."

Although I have submitted many things to many places, including a novel of black comedy called "Palpable Illusion", the only success I've had is as a horror writer. To date my published short stories have included a comic tale about a demon escaping Hell through the body of a little girl, a tale about a father taking a son on a fishing trip and using faeries as bait, a story about two young boys discovering the darker nature of God, and three Lovecraftian tales, one on the high seas, one set in the mountains in the west, and a third set in a New England college town.


And soon a novel--- The Ravening.

So, I'm a horror writer. I should point out that I am in good company as I look at some other authors who have written in the genre. Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Algernon  Blackwood, Henry James, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Machen, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Robert Bloch, Charles Beaumont, Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, Joyce Carol Oates, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Ambrose Bierce, Richard Matheson, etc.

Okay, maybe I'm not quite in the same ballpark as these individuals, but I'll settle for a suburb and catch fly balls outside the stadium.

"You write horror?" she asked.

"Horror?" he seconded.

I nodded, growing more secure, feeling the niche and becoming comfortable in it. Even horror writers need love.

"Cool," they said. "Cool."


Charles Gramlich said...

Love that photo. People usually look at me like I might eat their children when I say I write horror. Of course, I might.

Jon said...

Cool indeed.

But a horror writer is not what you are; it's what you've had far.

SQT said...

People love to be scared. And, frankly, I'm sick to death of the toothless monsters we've been subjected to with movies like "Twilight." Bring on the real monsters.

Sullivan McPig said...

In my opinion Lovecraftian stories are about so much more then just horror, but even if other people disagree and it would be just horror: nothing wrong with horror! Bring on the zombies ;-)

miller580 said...

"You're one of those "genre" writers huh?" he said with smug condescension.

willow said...

Ah, yes, just the every day horror writing. I love it! Gosh, the thumbnail of that pic gave me a start from my blogroll this morning! We were just reading about the execution of Chief Leatherlips, which happened almost in our backyard in 1801. He was tomahawked in just such a grizzly way. You'd love it.

willow said...

Actually, I meant to type "just the everyday horror writer", but you probably figured that out.

Anonymous said...

It's awesome to be a proud genre writer. And while your horror is great you've written some (unpublished) pieces I wouldn't consider horror that are great too.

Even your "horror," like your story about using faeries as fishing bait, is outside the box of traditional, formulaic horror.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Charles, Cannabalism is underrated. It's the other meat.

Jon, I agree...sort of.

SQT, people love to be scared for a myriad of reasons, many of which I've detailed on this blog over the last couple years.

Sully, I'm bringing the zombies. Big time. The Ravening is on its way and hopefully later this week, I'll be posting the cover art.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Mr. Miller, you elitist, pretentious MFA'er...bite me.

Willow, that picture is more disturbing than I first thought it to be.

Christine, I will be returning to some non-horror writing soon, if only because a steady diet of anything is bad for you.

stu said...

Intriguingly, I find myself in almost the opposite scenario. My novels are urban fantasy, but if I'm asked I will almost immediately refer to myself as a comic fantasy writer. Thank goodness for the short stories.

Steve Buchheit said...

To thine own self be true.

And then whomp on everybody who gets in your way.

Why are you looking at me like that?

Akasha Savage said...

Horror! Yay!
Embrace the genre is what I say: with taloned claws and dripping fangs.
I use to hate it when people asked what I wrote, I would answer in a small quiet voice "horror". At which point they would raise their eyebrows and deftly change the subject - as if I had a warped mind (which, actually, I think I have).
These days I said it with pride "Horror!"
Some one's got to feed all the warped minds that wants to read it!!


My word verification for this comment was 'drovel' - quite a good name for a horror novel don't you think?

What do you write?
Why I write drovels!

Stewart Sternberg said...


it's interesting how many genres and subgenres there are, depending on the weather.

Akasha, the word verification system has given me some interesting words and interesting word combinations.

Bernita said...

I encouraged my kids to read Lovecraft to enlarge their vocabulary and King to enlarge their minds. Am I twisted? I've often found more depth in genre stories than in "mainstream" fiction.
I like your title.

L.A. Mitchell said...

It *is* cool, Stewart :)

It took me many years to stand up and own romance, even in the face of those who asked why would I write smut for spineless idiots.