What is horror?
Is it vampiric creatures taking blood from unwilling victims? Is it the spirits of the dead who haunt old houses driving out the inhabitants who have found this great house at a bargain price?
Slashers? Psychopaths in masks killing teenagers?
It can be all of the above but these things do not scare me in and of themselves. What can is the thought that the family who bought that great house at a knockdown price are a real family. I know their names. I see how funny the kids are and the warm relationship the parents share. The horror isn’t the demonic presence in the cellar. It is the breakdown of the loving relationship. The heavy handed punishment handed out to the trusting child who has committed some misdemeanour. The parent who discovers her beloved child has died at the hand of some unknown maniac she wasn’t there to protect.
This is where the writer wins over the film maker almost every time. Create that horror in the mind of a reader and you’ve executed a special effect the best film studio in the world cannot match.
For me horror is shattered communities. Relationships ruined. The inability of society to protect the innocent and punish the criminal.
If I can get anywhere near that kind of despair as a writer I’ll be a happy man. In my novel Dark Trinity there are supernatural entities that do terrible things but they are really only incidental characters. Catalysts. Things that follow their own natures. The horror is perpetrated by the humans. Betrayal. Molestation. Bullying and extortion. Murder without the guiding hand of the unknown. In my writing I want to convey this without sensationalizing or exploiting these acts or titillating my readers. I want a balance between the theme, the reality of what these things can do to people and the entertainment value.
I’ll be chasing this for as long as I write.