Thursday, March 6, 2014
Go dark, or go home.
Horror short stories are my favorite things to write. The best are
literary story bombs that go deep and dark without wasting a lot of
time. They usually start off quiet, but when the bomb goes off it’s not
like anything else in literature, a heart-pounding ride that will only end
when boundaries are broken. They celebrate the mysterious and
unknown, exposing in eerily subtle or brutally stark ways, that life
isn’t always neat and tidy. And that’s always a good lesson to keep
in mind, because horror stories remind us the cosmos we live in is
infinitely more complex than that.
But what horror stories do best, is connect us in an intensely
visceral way to what we love. It’s only when you fear you’re going to
lose something, do you suddenly realize how important it is. Horror
stories scare us, but they also remind us to cherish what we have,
because it can always be snatched away. At their essence, horror
stories are a warning to always be careful and not assume what you
know is the final, unshakable truth. Because nothing is ever final,
there is always change and new mysteries ahead.
Horror stories are the literary eye-opener that wants you to see
what can’t be seen. The monster or bogey-man is just a metaphor for
the uncertainty of life. Horror stories don’t coddle easy assumptions,
they blow them up, then shine a flashlight on the shadowy, unknown
landscape that lies ahead.
The other thing I love is the language, because it’s usually a
soaring departure from the everyday. When describing unknown
horrors and mysteries, writers have to kick up their descriptive
game and use language that’s as stunning and unexpected as the
macabre wonders they’re revealing. Horror writers tend to use
language in a more varied and vivid way, creeping into their reader’s
inner world, word by word, then unleashing their dark surprises.
Horror is the removal of masks...
-- Robert Bloch