Why read horror?

by Jennifer 30. January 2014 10:15

I don’t remember when I started reading horror. I think it was probably in the fifth or sixth grade (somewhere about age 12 I guess) when my voracious appetite for books left me little to read in our small elementary school library. Because I scored high in reading, I was allowed to pillage the high school for books. I enjoyed mysteries and I somehow ended up grabbing my first horror book.

I don’t remember the title, and of course it was probably very mild on the horror scale, but I liked the thrill the book gave me. From there, I slowly picked off the horror section at school and at the local library. I became a horror junkie really quickly once I started. When we stopped at the used book store I’d load up with anything that happened to have vampires, werewolves or a mention of serial killers on the cover. Most of my family rolled their eyes and looked the other way as I devoured bloodbaths in word form. Even some of my teachers suggested that some of what I was reading wasn’t suited for a young lady my age.* But I was happily addicted and I still am today.

But the question remains: why do we like to read about monsters and people who do terrible things to their fellow humans?

For the most part, our lives are pretty boring. We get up in the mornings, go to work, do our job, come home, cook, eat supper, watch some TV then go to bed. Kids and pets stir up this recipe of boredom but overall, the days still blur into each other. When you boil it down, our lives are stagnant and boring most of the time. We live a life safe from big scaries in the dark (for the most part) and live in a world where we feel we are wrapped in bubble wrap. But some portion of our brain still wants a bit of excitement. So--purposely or not--we reach for something that makes our heart beat a little faster.

Horror safely satisfies that craving for many people. When we read horror, we can experience danger and excitement in a very safe place. We can glimpse inside the heads of monsters while we stumble through the mundane. The mess of blood that often accompanies horror isn’t a problem to clean up because the visualization is in our minds. Horror evokes a variety of emotions from fear to disgust to unease. If it gets too much, we can take a break and set it aside. It makes us twitch and it makes us think.

We still have that portion of our lizard brain that makes us jump when someone knocks on the door unexpectedly or when we see a shadow on the wall that shouldn’t be there. When our heart races we feel suddenly alive and able to do things we normally wouldn’t think of. The flight or fight response isn’t easily subdued by years of evolution. In fact, with our quiet lives, I think the response is stronger.

There are other reasons why people read horror (please feel free to add them) but I’m sure most of us will agree that experiencing fear--even if it is jumping a little in your seat--is one of the biggest draw of the genre. It’s hard to deny that adrenaline rush.

* I read IT in the eighth grade


~The Shadow Minion

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The Shadow Minion

by Jennifer 30. January 2014 10:06

We have a new minion at AIP.


Sarah isn’t your typical minion.  Not only does she crush a heaping slush pile but she excels in chaos. Her duties in the past have included co-hosting the #sffwrt chat on twitter to chasing down ideas for stories. She loves the developmental stages of a project and likes weaving seemingly unrelated things into a beauteous whole. To complete her love of all things unorganized, she has 2 cats, 2 teenage boys and a fiancé and she makes wearable art with small beads. Her stories can be found in the Space Battles FTST#6 from Flying Pen Press, the In Situ, and the FISH anthologies both from Dagan Books and in Feb, a flash piece from Lakeside Circus. You can follow her on her blog at http://shadowflame1974.wordpress.com/.

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Interviewed by the Shadow Minion

by Jennifer 26. January 2014 11:18

AIP is currently open to query submissions for 3 linked novellas. We are looking for well-written, modern day, dark speculative fiction. The kind of story that could be happening around you as you walk out the door.

As creative director, what are you looking for?
I want to be transported. I want to read the story in a coffee shop, look up, and imagine it happening in around wherever I am. I want supernatural elements that intrigue me and horror elements that affect me. The worst thing is to have a story that I care nothing about.

Why go with 3 linked novellas?
Think of it like a serial novel. We want to get the novellas out 3 times a year in e-format only and the release a compilation of the stories in limited edition hard back, trade, and e-format. This way, content is coming out quicker throughout the year.

Can or should the link be obvious or subtle?
The link needs to be obvious enough that the three novellas together tell a whole story.

Why not Zombies?
I don’t like zombies. That’s not subtle. They’ve been done to death. They bore me.

Why have other queries been rejected?
For a number of reasons. For not fitting the dark speculative theme (urban fantasy / horror). For not being an interesting story. For having really bad world building rules.

Common flaws you've seen in submissions?
Weirdly, I’m getting a lot of people who don’t have a story idea. Instead, they want me to tell them what story I want written and to hand-hold them through the synopsis and outline. I have to admit, this was not something I expected. Other than that, just not suiting AIP’s chosen niche.

What would your dream submission be like?
A synopsis of 3 linked novella length stories with diverse characters (LGBT, POC characters encouraged), a fascinating take on the real world, with an interesting plotline. The synopsis is erudite and concise. The author is responsive and willing to take editorial direction. I want an emotional story with action.

 

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