What is Horror?

As most of you may know, Echoes and Appetites are being considered Horror novels. I suppose there is some truth to that but I’m actually struggling with that concept. In fact I struggle to categorize Echoes period.

Appetites is, on the surface at least, a more traditional horror. It is not as cerebral as Echoes. As. It is a down and dirty werewolf story BUT it is deeper than the fur and claws and at its savage heart is a story about need and that fine balance between good and socially acceptable good.

Here’s the rub. There is a debate amongst horror writers as to what is horror exactly. I’ve said before it is a more complex genre than it is given credit for. Ultimately it’s different things to different writers. Kinda like your worst nightmare is not the same as someone else’s. Horror is what you read into it.

At it’s heart, I feel that Echoes is a love story. Well, ok, a love story per se. I thought that Frankenstein was a social commentary at its heart. Quite honestly, it’s the emotions that drive my stories. Ya, ya, yuk it up. A man can write about emotions. Ok, seriously, stop laughing.

No, I won’t be writing Romance novels in the forseeable future. I’ll leave that to more capable hands than mine. Nor will I be writing teen angst, supernatural or not. That’s my friends Noelle, Sue, Dawn and Stephanie’s stomping ground and they are more than capable.

What’s that you say? The characters from Echoes are young adults? Damn, you caught me. Ok, here’s the thing, it’s about unrequited love wrapped up in a Frankenstein type guise BUT instead of the monsters becoming all mushy caricatures, the monsters in my Echoes are truly monsters.

That said, I still struggle with the label, Horror. Not because it’s a bad thing, more like pulling a pair of jeans from the closet you’ve forgotten about, they just don’t quite fit. They are the right shape; two leg holes, a waist, pockets and such; but the button is a little too far from the button-hole to be comfortable.

Sure there are corpses whose flesh peels off in a gust of wind. There is a ghost with a dark history and there is a vampire… or is there. THAT is the true essence of Echoes. Do you trust the narrator.

Are you comfortable peering into the dark corners of the human psyche? Are you afraid to find familiarity there? Some echo of yourself…

About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
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8 Responses to What is Horror?

  1. Lisa Llamrei says:

    I don’t think horror is the only genre where this debate is ongoing. More and more writers are blurring the lines between genres. Horror can contain elements of fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, romance or whatever.

    Write the story you need to tell and sort out the genre when it’s done.

  2. Diane Dooley says:

    The dark corners of the human psyche is never a comfortable place to be. The trick is in making the reader want to go there anyway.

  3. I have not read the two books you speak of, but I see no reason why a particular work should be limited to one genre. Romeo and Juliet, e.g., is a brilliant comedy, a stirring romance, and an awful tragedy.

    Notably, aspects like historical setting, natural or super-natural, spaceships or cars, whatnot, are arguably on another dimension than e.g. comedy and romance—and combining werewolves and romance is more comparable to combining steak and rice than to combining steak and fish (or rice and fries).

    • Dale Long says:

      Thanks Micheal, for dropping by! The reason you haven’t heard of Echoes and Appetites is, they aren’t published… Yet.

      I totally agree with you.

  4. Pete says:

    The more I hear about this story, the more I want to read it!
    I agree with others though in that a lot of stories nowadays can’t be easily defined because they borrow from a handful of different genres, but then again I don’t know if that’s such a new thing.
    For instance, just because a film is labelled as science-fiction, doesn’t mean it can’t also be a horror, a romance, a thriller, a comedy, or even all of the above. I think a good story combines all these elements because it’s representative of the world in general.

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