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  • Writer's pictureBryan Alaspa

On Writing Historical Horror Fiction




My most recent novel, FERAL, is definitely an historical, period piece, sort of horror. This is not usual for me. I tend to write novels that are sent in the modern day. Sure, there have been flashbacks into the past in some of my novels, but I have never spent an entire novel in the past.


This type of writing brings with it unique challenges. There are always people out there waiting for you to get something wrong. No matter how far back you set the story, or how recent you set the story, there is always an expert in the era and they know the story better than you.


However, this is where the "fiction" aspect can come in. I knew that FERAL would be set at the same time as the infamous Donner Party, so I had to try and get the types of guns the average person would have had on that journey. I had to put the people in wagons, and try to get the general look and feel of the thing close to where it was.


The great part, though, was the fiction part. Since it was a supernatural story, I could add all sorts of things or make the people do all sorts of things, that they might not have done at that time since it was, well fiction.


Overall, the important thing for me is to tell a compelling story. I believe in the slow-burn fiction and take my time to set up the plot and introduce the people. Regardless of what time or era they are set in, I want modern readers to relate to them. I want them to sympathize with them. This is key to writing any form of fiction, but is particularly effective for horror fiction. That way, when the things go very wrong for those same characters, the reader feels it in their gut.


When FERAL is over, I want the reader to have gone on a journey. I want them to have delved deep into the darkness, felt the fear, and even had a nightmare or two. If I have done my job as a writer, I will have achieved that regardless of the historical accuracy of every page and everything within my novel.

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