Many writers, including me, love the Halloween season, Rarely during Easter or Thanksgiving is it acceptable to discuss decapitation, speculate on demonic possession, or compare your favorite serial killers. But during the month of October, you can focus on all the gore and horror you want without anyone necessarily running in fear.
Horror writers are a unique breed among writers. We enjoy concocting terrifying and gruesome ways of tormenting our characters and terrorizing our readers. You might expect that from us, but what you’d be surprised by is that – with limited exception – we’re pretty normal people. We love our family members and don’t wish them to become victims of dreadful crimes. We snuggle our pets and regard them as family. And we like the kinds of things that our neighbors enjoy. What makes us different is our ability to look into the dark places that most people avoid eleven months out of the year, and to draw upon the fears that most people keep quiet. We like to muck around in the psyches of very scary people to try to understand what makes them tick. And we are not afraid to step into our own dark places and dance with those inner demons for the sake of a good story.
Like writers in other genres, we seek to convey a genuine emotional experience; it’s just that we deal with emotions such as fear, anxiety, discomfort on a level that most genres don’t approach. The thing is, what we really do as horror writers is provide a service: we allow readers to address fears and anxieties through the safety of a story that belongs to someone else and not the reader him or her self. We release that emotional tension via make-believe people who really never were hurt, tortured, murdered, or in any way harmed because – well, duh – they aren’t real.
Modern psychology has held for years that facing fears helps us to overcome them. By staring what terrifies us head-on, we grow stronger and gain the ability to handle those issues more effectively.
All that being said – I will still never touch a tarantula! Ew!
Take advantage of the service provided by your friendly, neighborhood horror writer! You might just be surprised how much you like it!