I look forward to October every year, not just because of pumpkin bread and candy sales and NaNo prep, although those things are of course important. There will be horror movies on TV all the time between now and Halloween, and new ones released in the theater. American Horror Story starts next week. This year I’ve also got a new horror novel to read. It’s just a great month for horrible things.
As my website attests, I can be as kitschy about horror as anyone. I love ravens and haunted mansions and dark and stormy nights. My Jack Skellington bobblehead shares space on my desk with my Poe action figure and my Funko POP White Walker. There are those who find all this weird. They can’t understand how I find fun in all this darkness and death.
But I think characterizing horror as being about darkness and death is missing the point. When I watch or read or write about a monster, it’s not because I love the monster. It’s because I want to slay it. Especially when it comes to writing, horror allows me to face those monsters and win, over and over again, through my characters. And they are always braver than I am. (Or at least, the characters who don’t die screaming while being dismembered. But you know, everyone can’t win. That’s why they call it horror.)
Horror is a lot like a nightlight: it’s there so people can look directly at their fears and walk around them, rather than fumble along in the dark hoping not to trip over them. And also sometimes to help them pee.