Oh, Horror!

What with yesterday being Halloween, and all…do you read horror? Stories of things that go bump in the night and keep you from sleeping?

 I guess it depends on the definition of “horror.”  It’s a notoriously difficult genre to define, but if you use the most general defintion I’ve heard:  fiction which evokes a sense of fear, dread, or unease, then yes, I read horror.

I love Edgar Allan Poe.  I count Dracula as one of my favorite novels.  I read and really liked The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.  I also like the Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher, and the Night Watch series of books by Sergei Lukyanenko is on my “to read” list.

That was the simple answer.  Now here’s the complicated one.  I don’t like to call it horror, especially since I really don’t like more “traditional” horror writers like Stephen King or H. P. Lovecraft.  The term “horror” has been hijacked by the movie industry, and now it seems that most people define horror as lots of blood and guts and a high body count, which is a place many modern horror authors and horror comic books have pushed the genre as well. 

I prefer to be creeped out rather than grossed out.  So I usually use the terms “dark fantasy” or “urban fantasy,” when I talk about the kind of “horror” fiction I read.  That way people don’t leap to the conclusion that buckets of blood are involved.

I also don’t use the term “horror” when I tell people what kind of fiction I write.  Again, because of the assumptions people make, I’ve found that a lot of them are turned off by the label “horror.”  So, in order to avoid being prejudged, I use the terms “dark fantasy” or “urban fantasy,” to indicate the general tone of my writing.  Yes, there are vampires and ghosts.  No there’s not a lot of disemboweling going on.  A lot of my short stories are on this blog, by the way, and can be read by going to the “Short Fiction” tab at the top.

3 thoughts on “Oh, Horror!

  1. Lesley November 1, 2007 / 2:36 pm

    With you entirely on being creeped out rather than grossed out. This is the second BTT post mentioning The Historian – I have it ready to go, so maybe I’ll start that one tonight. I shall have a look at your short fiction, and your recommended reads.

  2. Trisha J November 1, 2007 / 4:36 pm

    I think dark fantasy or urban fantasy are better classifications than horror. You’re right..People hear horror and they automatically think of the gore that you see in movies.

    Poe and Dracula are among my faves as well.

  3. Literary Feline November 2, 2007 / 10:09 am

    I find that I do that too, use other terms to describe certain types of books I read rather than categorize them as horror. Horror seems to be synonymous with blood and guts these days. I am glad you and Heather over at Errant Dreams defined horror in its true sense. It clears things up a bit for me.

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