Fascinated Friday: My Horror Influences
So, our second novella, Rend the Dark, is coming out next week. It is a fantasy horror adventure story, and I’m really excited to share it. I’ve been checking out some horror again, and it’s been reminding me of how much horror has influenced and excited me over the years.
Even as a kid, I always loved monster movies. There was something about the tension, the fear and excitement, that always spoke to me. And some of my most influential movie memories come from flicks that land on the scarier side of the spectrum.
I love Jaws. I know, most people love Jaws. But I really love Jaws. How much? I will sit through Jaws the Revenge simply because it is part of the series. Don’t tell me that’s not love.
The original Jaws taught me lessons when I was young that I didn’t fully understand until later. How to pace things. What to show, what not to show. And that the monster needs to be compelling, but your audience lives in the skin of your characters, and they need to be rich and genuine in their reaction to the danger.
I remember being a kid, in a movie theater, and seeing the trailer for Aliens. This one, right here
and it blew my ten year old mind. The sounds, the intensity. The glimpses of terrible things and blistering action. I had to see this movie. I even read the novelization. It started a life-long love affair with the Aliens universe, and I am really excited that Neill Blomkamp is doing the next installment. Some of the early concept art was released here.
One of my favorite movie going experiences was going with my dad to see a double feature of Platoon and Predator. It was a massive assault on the senses, and both movies left an indelible impression on me. Predator was a different take on a monster type movie, putting forward a capable hero who could go toe to toe with the terrible creature. This came to be an important part of the ideas that eventually developed into Rend the Dark.
As I grew older, I began to discover horror literature and I cut my teeth on Stephen King and Clive Barker. For King, while I always liked the novels, but it was the short stories that really captured me. They were tight, and could ratchet up the tension harder because it wasn’t a marathon, but a sprint to the finish, usually with something chasing you. It is because of his story, “The Monkey” that I can’t even look at one of those cymbal clanging monkeys without shuddering. Even when it was in Toy Story 3.
For Barker, it was “The Hellbound Heart” that I first discovered. This was the short novel that eventually grew into Hellraiser. Barker’s work was complex and dark and disturbing, and I ate it up.
In more recent times, my go to favorites for horror stories right now are Nancy Holder, Tim Curran, and FG Cottam.
I first came across Curran when I read his Dead Sea, and this still remains one of my most recommended horror novels for people looking for something really scary. Curran’s stuff doesn’t pull any punches, but if you can handle some of the edgier aspects, it is great. He describes fear better than any other author I have found.
Cottam’s The Colony may be my current favorite ghost story. It is fast moving, fun, and frightening, and just an all around great read if you like a good creepy story. And it’s almost Halloween! Who doesn’t like creepy story this time of year? I’ve heard that Cottam is working on the sequel for it right now, and honestly, I will be picking it up the day it launches.
Then there’s Nancy Holder. If you want a master class on opening a novel, check out Holder’s Dead in the Water. I originally came to Nancy’s work through the many things she did for Buffy the Vampire Slayer (including the just released Demons of the Hellmouth) and besides being an amazing writer, she also is one of the coolest people you will ever meet.
My biggest influence though, has to be the works and related mythos of HP Lovecraft. I first came to know about Lovecraft when I saw references to the Call of Cthulhu game in an old issue of Dragon Magazine.
The art captured me immediately, and I began devouring everything I could from Lovecraft and those who followed in his wake. There was something about the scope and scale of the terrible creatures and horrifying elder gods that stemmed from Lovecraft’s work. A great starting point for Lovecraft is either The Shadow Over Innsmouth or the actual Call of Cthulhu itself.
Two modern authors who are building on the Lovecraft mythos are Anne M. Pillsworth and Ruthanna Emrys. These two ladies host the Lovecraft re-read on Tor.com and are both incredible writers. Pillsworth’s Madonna of the Abattoir was incredible, and Emrys’s The Litany of Earth is a brilliant return to the world of Innsmouth, but from the point of view of a worshipper of these dark gods. Both are so good!
So there you are. A few books and movies that shaped my taste in horror. As you read Rend the Dark, coming out on October 15, see if you can feel those same influences in the adventures of Ferran and Mireia.
Until next time, keep finding things you love. Even if they’re scary. Especially if they’re scary. I know I will.