It's a funny thing being in the horror fiction game. First, people assume you're weird and always dark. Second, people think you enjoy scary things and nothing bothers you.
The first is generally not true, although we do tend to assume the worst in a lot of people. However, I tend to channel the bad thoughts into my work and get all of that poison out. In real life, I can certainly tell you almost any horror movie plot you ask me about, but also think I'm pretty funny.
The second part, well, real life is always scarier and more horrifying than anything I could possibly write. Every time I think I have read or written the most horrifying, terrible thing anyone could imagine, somehow real life manages to one-up me. As if we were in a competition I never wanted to be in.
The good news for horror fans is that, horror at least seems to be more accepted these days.. Horror films are tops at the box office all the time now. Those of us who love horror, are more willing to bring it up in casual conversation. People do not recoil in their own version of horror when you can talk at length about the Babadook, for example, or talk joyously about the latest A24 film. There is even a Renaissance of horror right now with more types of horror, with more horror directors, authors and other creators producing their work.
I recently had the honor of being invited by the Chicago branch of the Horror Writer's Association to speak at North Central College in the western 'burbs. We had judged a winner in a horror writing contest and also spoke to the students for more than an hour. The topic was "The Future of Horror." You know what?
The future of horror looks good. There was not a bad story in the bunch. Myself and my fellow judges emailed each other about it and we all agreed they were written so well, it was remarkable. Not a one was filled with spelling or grammatical errors. After much back and forth we picked a winner, but we had to express to one and all that they had done a tremendous job.
There were ghost stories. There was body horror. There was gore. There was poetry. It was all creepy, gross, gory, terrifying and - amazing.
I was so happy to see it. It means, if these students want to go on to write horror, they can and will and find that there are so many ways to get that writing out to people. That's the other amazing thing about fiction writing in general these days. You can call Amazon the villains of the world, they have changed the way writers can get their work out to the public.
The world of horror has become more diverse, more expanded, more interesting, and just overall more exciting. Horror has always been a great way to comment on things in the world, or bring issues to people in a way that is creepy, scary and entertaining. This still holds true and is maybe even more so.
There is so much more I could say, but it would take up volumes. The state of horror is positive and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what comes next.