There are only 3 weeks left until the annual Horror BlogHop that is CoffinHop launches.
This is my favourite blogging time of the year because not only is it dripping in chills, terror and horror but it is the time of year when I get to hang out in the blogosphere with my favourite people: the Bone-Chilling CoffinHop Crew. The best thing is because it is a hop – You my readers get to hang out with these Masters and Mistresses of the Horror genre too.
So people, mark your calendars and kill off the next 21 days as we wait with baited breath and chills running up and down our spine for the Annual CoffinHop.
24th – 31st October
7 days of bone-paralysing terror
7 days of spine-tingling fear
7 days of blood-chilling horror
+100 Masters and Mistresses of Horror
Tick, tock, tick, tock…the time is almost near. Don’t close your eyes. You don’t know who is waiting around the dark corners…
So we are a day away from the end of Coffin Hop 2012. Just like last year it has been a BLAST. However it is not over until it is over so don’t feel glum. If you have not had a chance to hit up all the incredibly talented authors on this blog tour, you still have 2 days left to catch up & still 2 days left to enter my contest *Click on the EYE above*. Just click on that skull at the bottom of this post and it will take you to the Coffin Hop Boneyard where you can find all the other incredible authors.
Now, I know some may scratch their heads wondering what sort of person writes horror or reads horror. Well I can’t speak for all horror authors but I can speak for myself and I can speak of most of the other coffinhoppers since I am privileged to call a lot of them friends. I think Horror has got a bad rap over the years and Horror Authors along with it. So much so that the publishing industry uses every other euphemism to market a Horror Author and their Horror Fiction other than the term: Horror.
In May I wrote a post on: What is Horror? It was a question posed and answered by a group of horror author bloggers. You can find the full post here: Shivers down my Spine
But here are some passages that I would like to highlight for you…
horror |ˈhôrər, ˈhär-|noun1 an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust: children screamed in horror.• a thing causing such a feeling: photographs showed the horror of the tragedy | the horrors of civil war.• a literary or film genre concerned with arousing such feelings: [ as modifier ] : a horror movie.• intense dismay: to her horror she found that a thief had stolen the machine.• [ as exclamation ] (horrors) chiefly humorous used to express dismay: horrors, two buttons were missing!• [ in sing. ] intense dislike: many have a horror of consulting a dictionary.• (the horrors) an attack of extreme nervousness or anxiety: the mere thought of it gives me the horrors.2 informal a bad or mischievous person, esp. a child: that little horror Zach was around.ORIGIN Middle English: via Old French from Latin horror, from horrere ‘tremble, shudder’ (see horrid) .
I think the very origin of the word answers the question: What is Horror? Horror is an involuntary trembling and shuddering from sheer terror. For me however, true horror is those scenes that play with your mind. Psychological fear is far more intense and horrific than mere physical fear. The mind is a scary place. It’s capacity for imagining the worst and the darkest is scary. Think of your favourite horror movie, the imagined monster behind the shadow at the foot of the door that is ajar is far scarier than the monster that is seen and can be fought. What is unknown is far scarier than the known? For me, that is true HORROR.
Horror is the difference between the UNKNOWN vs the KNOWN and theUNTHINKABLE vs the IMAGINED. Horror is those shivers down my spine, that prickling on my skull and the bone-deep chill that makes my heart want to stop.
“The 3 types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there…”
So what is so different about Horror Authors? I will tell you this. I think Horror Authors are the SkyJumpers of the publishing world. To be a Horror Author you need to plumb the depths of the human heart and all its terrible secrets. You have to face the darkness and then shine a light on it, exposing it. Not only are we SkyJumpers but we are SkyJumping into a dark night sky. That takes guts! It requires a strong spine and a streak of recklessness. On top of that we are the red headed step child that the Publishing world does not want to acknowledge.
But when you – as a reader – read a piece of horror fiction, you have no other choice but to dig deep yourself into your own emotions and FEEL. Horror Fiction strips away all your defences and lays you bare as an emotional being with equal amounts of joys and fears. Horror Fiction strips away all polite etiquette and gets you to connect with your most primal and your most HUMAN instincts and emotions. You may be scared stiff but you won’t stop turning the pages to find out what happens. Horror fiction is a guaranteed Page-Turner. Horror Fiction has a way of getting under your skin and being unforgettable. For a time, while reading that Horror story, you forget your own horrors.
“Blessed are the weird people – poets, misfits, writers, mystics, painters and troubadours – for they teach us to see the world through different eyes.” – Jacob Nordby
Horror Authors > Are we crazy? Are we dark? Some may be. But then great minds are always called Crazy by someone, somewhere.
But is it crazy or dark to have the courage to acknowledge both the light and the dark, the day and the night, the joy and the fear? Call me crazy then and call me dark. But it is through writing down the dark stories that I can get to the light. It is through writing down the dark stories that darkness does not overwhelm me. Humanity can be a horrific thing and sometimes we need to acknowledge the truth of that horror to let the wild and precious beauty shine in through the cracks in the dark. You cannot appreciate the Dawn unless you have experienced the coldest, loneliest, darkest hour of the Night. If I didn’t write the stories and poems that I do…then I would truly be haunted by the dark…
1) HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME!2) INVITE YOUR FRIENDS AND SPREAD THE WORD!3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, October 24, 2011 at Midnight (PST) THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, October 31, 2011 at Midnight (PST) Winners will be drawn and posted November 1, 20114) MEET AND MINGLE WITH THE AUTHORS! EXPERIENCE A NEW DESTINATION AT EVERY STOP! PARTICIPATE IN EVERY SITE’S CONTEST AND BE ENTERED FOR CHANCES TO WIN MULTIPLE PRIZES! EVERY BLOG VISITED IS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO WIN!
5) PARTICIPATION AT ALL SITES IS RECOMMENDED, BUT NOT REQUIRED. THE MORE SITES YOU HOP, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING PRIZES.
6) DID I MENTION TO HAVE A SPOOKY FUN TIME?
***Authors have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this tour is subject to these rules***
My next WIP is a psychological thriller and it involves psychological twists and a cold-blooded killer. This killer curdles my blood. Already the killer haunts my dreams. But the worst thing about this character is that I am struggling to name him. He does have a moniker that he will be known by in the story but he does need a name.
Let me tell you a little bit about him. He is a psychopath. He is exceptionally cruel and sadistic. He is also a perfectionist who never leaves any trace of himself at the crime scene. He is fastidiously clean, almost surgically I would say. He preys on people that he feels are “fallen”. He is incredibly alluring and seductive. He is hard to say “no” to. By the time his victims realise he is the final person they will see, it is too late and they are taken by surprise. This man could be anyone. He might be your friend, your brother, your father, your lover, your husband or your colleague. He stalks you like a silent lioness. Do you know his name?
So…this is where you blog-hoppers come in. I need you to put your creative hats on and spin me a first name and surname for my sadistic killer.
The best name will win three ebooks by three phenomenal authors. (I will be announcing the names of the authors and their books closer to Halloween but believe me you will want these ebooks.)
The best name will also become the name of my sadistic killer.
You need to be subscribed to this blog to enter (so join up if you are not already) as well as leave your best answer (along with your email address for winner notification) in the comments on any of this week’s posts on this blog. You also need to have visited and commented on at least 5 of the CoffinHop bloggers.
The winner will be announced on this blog on 5th November.
Have you ever tried watching a horror or thriller without the sound on? I guarantee you that you will not have a problem turning off the lights and going to bed. It is the creaks and the strange sounds, the eery music and whistling wind that truly send the shivers down our spines even before the villain has come onto the scene ready to kill. The core element for horror and thriller is the theme music and the background noises.
How do we convey this horror element and scare factor into writing? How do we create shivers down spines with ink on a white page?
We must write out a theme music. How do we do this? We write using all of our senses. We bring all of the character’s senses into the story. We bring in a deep POV (Point of View) where by writing from the character in the scene, we effectively put the reader into the scene. Their heart beats as quick as the characters. All of a sudden they are not sitting there reading a harmless book…they have been transported into a situation of being hunted and not knowing what was hunting them. Our characters senses and emotions are the writer’s theme music for the story.
Here is an excerpt of one of my own stories to demonstrate. Tell me if your heart beats quickened.
Did your heart skip a beat? Were you there with the character? Now I didn’t tell you who the character is or where exactly they may be. I just wanted you to feel this character’s fear and desperation, her mind stretching for an escape but knowing it is too late.
Now character’s emotions and senses are not the only way you can set your story’s theme music. What happens if you want to set the scene when the horror has already passed? What happens if your key character in the scene cannot move, feel or even speak? What tools does the writer have then? You have the setting. This is when you use your setting. This is the time when you put a hard focus on the body lying broken. The horror will edge across your spine like a crescendo of violins.
Here is an excerpt of another of my stories to demonstrate…
“She lay on the ground, a confusion of twisted limbs and red sand.
The sun was slowly starting to break over the ocean’s rim. Already the seagulls were flying overhead, their harsh cries echoing in the noise of dawn. The girl lay very still and quiet, limp like a rag doll. Slowly she cracked open her eyes, seeing only red sand. Closing her eyes again, she moved her tongue around her mouth feeling for broken teeth. The sand beneath her cheek grated painfully into her bruises. Her left hand, held in a fist, was bent over her back. Carefully she uncurled her fingers. A whimper escaped as sharp pains shot up her shoulder and into her neck. Trying not to move her arm, she lifted her hand slightly off the cool sand. With a sharp gasp, she dropped her head back onto the ground. The sun started to punish her bare legs with its rays. She opened her eyes again and watched as a tear fell from the tip of her nose into the sand.Suddenly tired, her eyes blurred. The light faded and she fell into a black hole.
That was how they found her: a confusion of twisted limbs and red sand.
This scene unlike the first does not have the action element but the theme music is still loud and clear. Something horrific has happened and the heart of a reader is tugged.
How do you compose the theme music of your story? How do you make ink on a page send shivers up the reader’s spine? How do you crawl into the head space and imagination and pull out horror in your reader? What are your best tools? Look at your own writing and listen to it instead of reading it. You will hear the music. You will hear the creaks in the floor. You will hear the soft tread of the killer.
Now I will leave you with the creepiest theme music I know. As you listen, remember how important the music of a scene – both visual and written – can be to converting the true horror. Here is Angelo Badalamenti’s “Dark Water” Suite. Enjoy the chills…
This week I am writing about things that scare me and why scary things are so irresistible. So today’s guest blogger was the perfect choice to slot in this week’s theme of all things scary. If you have read any of this author’s work, you will be surprised to find out that she is actually terrified of the dark and all the creatures that it hides. This author’s tales give me the heebie jeebies but still I come back begging for more. So what scares Patti Larsen? Let’s find out.
Writing Horror When You’re Scared of the Dark
You’re laughing at the title, aren’t you? Fair enough. I didn’t set out to write thrillers, let alone horror. But my muse, the voices, whatever term you wish to give authorly inspiration, has led me down a dark path the last little while. Yes, I’m still writing my YA paranormal fun stuff with lots of adventure and sarcasm. And my middle grade work is all action adventure, just how I like it.
But there are story lines crawling forth from the black, creeping out of my closet, sliding free from under the bed… and I’m honestly having trouble sleeping.
We have a nightlight in the hall outside my bedroom door. I kid you not. My husband thinks it’s so I won’t trip on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. He has no idea I use it to keep an eye out for whatever my over-active imagination seems to be stirring free.
Don’t believe me? Think I’m just writing this to give you a bit of a chill? Um, no. I wish. And while I’d never classify myself as a coward, I hate the dark.
I finally let it out in my work, thinking writing about it would ease the fear somewhat. Like popping a blister or pulling a band aid free. Figured the first truly horrifying work that came to me was my psyche’s way of dealing with some here-to forgotten trauma. That penning fearful prose would ease the anxiety I get when I switch out the light and dive for the safety of the covers.
Wrong. It’s made it worse, in some ways. Now I’m writing about voodoo dolls and bones buried in cursed ground that rise to torment the living, dark creatures that hunt and kill for sport when they aren’t feeding on fresh livers and still-hot blood. A boy with horrid powers of control over others who devolves so deeply he forces an entire town to build a throne in his honor out of the bones of their dead.
I’m hoping this is a phase. That my compulsion to write this stuff will eventually dry and up go away in favor of butterflies and sparkly unicorns. Trouble is, every time I think that might be the case, the butterflies grow fangs and claws and attack the unicorns. They end up gutted, blood pooled beneath them, staining their polished white coats the deepest crimson, while their entrails curl in greasy ropes around their shining and delicate hooves. Can you hear it? The final beating of their precious hearts?
Ba-dum. Ba-dum. Ba. Dum.
That’s it. I’m sleeping with the lights on for the rest of my life.
About the Author: Patti Larsen is a middle grade, young adult and adult author with a passion for the paranormal who writes a great deal of horror for someone who is afraid of the dark. (SEE! It’s true! It’s right in my bio.) She lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband Scott and four enormous cats.