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I dare you to frighten me
Iíve been working as the Horror Editor at The Deepening World of Fiction since May of this year. During this time a trend has definitely made itself known.
ďThe trend?Ē you ask.
What many writers are classifying as horror just doesnít fit the bill. First of all, herds of new authors are still caught up in the dying trend of Vampire novels. Let me make myself clear: just because your book includes vampires you cannot assume youíve penned a horror novel. Horror, simply defined, must disturb. Itís preferable for the book to actually make you afraid of stepping outside your warm and cozy home. And if the writing is really good, there will be nowhere you feel safe.
I can say without a doubt the authors Iíve featured on our horror blog, for the most part, manage to disturb, with some going so far as to steal a few hours of my sleep. But even top-notch authors of the genre are missing the second and third marks. Of 24 reviewed books I revisited, I could find but three which generated real fear: Hold the Light by Ryan Sherwood, because I can easily envision Death in the form of a man; the short stories of Bobby Revell, who left me feeling so unsettled I feared for his sanity and my safety; and Neil Gaiman, a man who has created a modern, mythical landscape one cannot visit and leave unscathed: I am almost convinced Iíve met some of his American Gods.
So whatís going on?
Consider the Fall of the Roman EmpireÖ The bulk of Roman citizens became so jaded, so impervious to the horror inherent in their entertainment, so uncaring of the misfortunes of others, and so insulated in their closed off world, they were blinded and, thus, unaware of the shift of power that brought them to their knees.
America, in my opinion has been travelling the same road for decades. They are becoming much more insular in their behaviour as a country, and you can turn on your television at any time of the day and witness both real and fictional horror of the most graphic sort. Fiction in the written form is much worse. Nothing, and I mean nothing is off limits. One can go down in the gutter and partake of any degredation imaginable (and some you canít imagine).
The Americans are not alone. We, as a global community, seem to have become desensitized to human suffering.
As writers who wish to disturb, to rattle the populationís cages so as to force them to look at what has happened, what means are left to you and I? The answer is more simple than what you might believe: hit them where they live.
The time has come, my writing friends, to pick up the gauntlet and turn the ordinary into the unimaginable. Show me, send me and encourage me to create writing that makes our readers afraid to turn on their computers or watch the latest slasher film or even think about vampires. Iíve heard people berating Stephen King these last few years, saying heís lost his touch, but the man has the right idea: I didnít feel like going to the grocery store after reading The Mist. And next time I post a story, I want you to shake like a leaf when you open your front door in the morning.
Send me a book to review that horrifies. I dare you.
Horror at The Deepening
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2009
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