I’ve been fascinated in horror lately. Most especially “My Last Dutchess”, “A Tell-tale Heart” and “I am Not a Serial Killer”
One of my “writer-weaknesses” right now is that I’m not practiced in making things as dark as I want them to be. When I read a really good Fantasy, I often sit and ponder in dismay at how the author was able to make the villain so bad/ the main characters so flawed/ have something so horrible happen to the characters we love.
I know I have my own tastes, as well. Reading some horror has helped me find where the parameters of these tastes end.
I used to say I hated horror. Now I know I was wrong, but not about modern horror – most modern horror falls under “slasher” or “demonic possession”, and I am still not in the least interested in these stories.
But classic horror involves a character facing an external darkness, and at the same time dealing with an internal darkness. In this way, horror is a very moral genre.
Take “I am Not a Serial Killer” for example. The main character is John Cleaver, a fifteen-year-old sociopath. He his a messed-up kid, and thinks about some really awful things. However, he is very strict with himself. Having a fascination with serial killers, he noticed some parallels between these killers’ early behaviors and his own. For this reason, he sets himself some very strict rules. Thematically, the second book goes even further into John’s struggle with “Mr. Monster”, and so far it is my favorite in the series.
The parameter was very comfortable for me. John thinks and says some pretty disturbing things. Sometimes, when life is getting out of control and his grasp on things loosens, he is capable of some pretty disturbing things as well. But John does not want to do bad things – in this way, he’s a very good person.
So far, that’s where I feel comfortable. Yesterday I wrote my first draft of a horror short-story, about a man becoming a demon. The whole story is based around what could happen to turn a good man into an evil one; and because it is being told to you past-tense by the demon himself, it can be very disturbing.
What I hope will be most disturbing about it, once it’s been through a couple more drafts, is the amount of human you can see in him. The story is meant to be dark and tragic; but is there a little bit of the man left in the demon, when all is said and done? Is he beyond salvation still?