The Woes of a Horror Author

Posted: April 5, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Writing Horror is hard.

Well writing anything is hard, but horror more so.  Not so much the act of writing itself, at least not for me.  I’ve been such a big fan of Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, Clive Barker and others for so long, that it sort of comes natural to me.  I happen to enjoy death, chaos and mayhem, yet in a linear, orderly fashion.  I like to think of my books as controlled chaos.  You never know what is going to happen, and the good guys are bad and the bad guys are worse.  

I keep the gore to a minimum, but well placed.  I don’t care to read a bloody hack fest, but yet I want to know what is happening when things get ugly.  All of that said, once the final product is finished, re-written and edited, I feel as though I have just as good a product to put on the market as any horror novel put out by the NY big guys.  Now here is the fun part.

Horror isn’t all that popular these days.  Unless my protagonist is sixteen, has emotional issue or is involved in a love triangle, or all of the above, it’s hard to get so much as a review.  There are all sorts of sub-categories to horror now.  Paranormal romance, urban fantasy, etc.  I’m not even sure what “Urban Fantasy” means.  When I think of “fantasy” I think of Lord of the Rings or anything by Robert Jordan, usually involving swords, sorcery, and so forth.  Yet “Urban Fantasy” involves vampires, werewolves, and now in one book I recently read we have were-spiders and were-gorillas.  I wonder if there are were-duck-billed-platypus or were-chickens?  

As a result, when I first finished my book, the biggest advice I got from seasoned authors was to get as many reviews as possible.  Trouble is, the reviewers who get the most traffic either have a two year back log and aren’t accepting anymore, or they just don’t read horror.  Some have suggested I call it something else.  I could I suppose, but then my fear is the person will read it and feel I deceived them by telling them it was an Urban fantasy or something only to subject them to the horror my book contains.

It truly is horror.  There are all sorts of religious themes involving good and evil, God and Satan, my main character is extremely violent and he enters the supernatural world, he sees his own beliefs unravel before him.  As cruel as he is, the supernatural beings he encounters are much crueler.  There is no sexual tension in the story, there is no romance and not even the hint of anything warm and fuzzy.  Just a descent into darkness and chaos that keeps the reader guessing.

Now, I know there is a market and audience for this kind of thing.  I sort of feel like how heavy bands like Metallica must have felt during the hair band era.  The market is so full of fluff and redundancy, there are people out there desperately searching for something original and scary.  I just have to find them, and more importantly, get them to find me.

  1. I write about zombies, but I rarely classify myself as horror. My books are action/adventure, not horror.

    I don’t build up suspense, my main characters just kick wholesale zombie ass.

    And yet, I can’t escape other people calling it horror, because it has zombies. (Even though some of the zombies are smart and have super-powers)

  2. Tim Miller says:

    yeah, and that’s weird cause if you had vampires, it would be “urban fantasy” I don’t get it. Thank you for commenting.

  3. Andy Hill says:

    I’m with you on this one; I’m similar in that my writing is very dark with little or no redemption for the characters and no real happy endings in sight. I’ve found that getting our sort of work reviewed can be a bit of a bitch!

    I’ve always been a little disturbed by the concept of paranormal romance and urban fantasy as well. To my mind, fantasy is a sprawling epic with strange creatures and unpronounceable names; romance is ladies being swept off their feet by bare-chested rogues; horror is, well… horror, surely.

    Okay, so I’m taking things to a stereotypical extreme in these examples but I’m sure you get my point.

    There are so many people out in reader-land who state that they love paranormal books; that means they like ghosts, spooks, things that go KABLAM in the night, and other such generic horror fare. This should mean that they would like to read our work… but somehow Tim, I just think they’d be in for a bit of a shock!

    • Tim Miller says:

      Thanks Andy, and you are right. Hell, now in paranormal romance, the vampire IS the barechested rogue. It’s almost as if, we want monsters, but we want them to be sexy, and handsome or hot and erotic. It’s like that keeps us from being afraid of them, but then I don’t see the point.

      One funny thing is, my book has a lot of violence, a little graphic but most of it is implied. I explain what is being done, but don’t get into gory details, yet some have told me how graphic it is. That tells me I did it right, because their imagination is filling in the rest.

      My book has a lot of religious themes and is rather thought provoking. More than one person has told me they were disturbed or couldn’t stop thinking about the ending after they had read it. To me this is another good sign if I can impact a reader in such a way. Just got to find more of them LOL

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