Part of me is annoyed that I even ponder this question, after all, I am not asking myself why I’m writing a mainstream novel, The answer of course is because that’s more acceptable, more respectable. So this question rattles around my head.
The answer, I suppose, like the answer to many things, is it’s psychological, it’s the natural extension of myself and how I see the world. I’ve illustrated this post with a photograph I took one morning when The Boy and I took a walk around the park in the mist and frost. The spider silk was visible everywhere, all over plants and trees, those little wisps which brush your face or stick to your hand and make you jump but you never usually see. The Boy was fascinated, knowing what it was, but unable to believe what it was. In our imaginations it could have become anything, but to me it could only be sinister, because that’s how my brain works.
There are particular types of horror I like, I’ve been partial to post-apocalyptic horror since I first came across Triffids and Tripods. Why? Perhaps a fear of being alone, perhaps the decay which accompanies it speaks to me because it’s a reminder of the endings of our own lives, perhaps it’s because I love a good survival against all the odds story, or that I have an idea of a utopia, a world rebuilt better, more equitable and I like my fantasy tempered with the reality that it wouldn’t ever be like that.
I like monster horror, monsters like us, monsters truly alien, it doesn’t matter. This is safe horror. These things don’t exist. Again, it’s the way my brain works. If there’s something supernatural out there it’s not pretty, it’s not cute little fairies and rainbows, it’s dark and dangerous and embodies the worst of us. So when I turn to fantasy, I don’t imagine the heroic, but what lurks in the night, and in the darkness of humanity.
Finally, I like the safe becoming unsafe, the monsters in the light, in the home you think is safe, during occasions that should be full of joy, in the people you see every day, in the potential for terror and grief and a spiral into darkness you leave yourself open to merely by loving people.
In the end, like my mainstream work, it’s all a way of exploring humanity and what it means to be human. We’re all too close to darkness, and maybe that’s why this is a question I see asked frequently of horror writers, because who wants to be reminded of that.