When anyone asked what my favorite genre is, I find it easier to say what I don’t like: Romance, heavy historical fiction, westerns, and horror. That’s been my go-to response for years. I like romance IN my books, but as someone who is heavily unromanced and has a low(very low) tolerance for sappiness and general. . . displays of affection, I suppose, I’ve never had any desire to pick up a romance book. I do like historical fiction at times but I have to be in the mood, and I don’t like things that are weighed down too heavily with historical details. Westerns are. . . I’m not even gonna touch that one. And horror books are scary and gory and creepy and why would I want to read them?
Here’s the thing though: It has come to my attention that I may be wrong about some of the genres I don’t like. A specific one. The horror one, to be precise.I know, I know! I was so confident about my dislike of horror. But somehow. . . my mind has changed.
Well, I realized while revising the draft of my NaNoWriMo project that it could be considered historical horror(I was thinking of it more as historical paranormal). It has wraiths in it(even though they’re called something else!). Children are dying. At the very least, it has horror elements. So why would I write a genre I didn’t like to read? You could say the horror elements took me by surprise(which is true). But more than that, I had just been waving everything off with an “I don’t like horror”, when in fact, I’ve come to realize that I do.
I really enjoyed books like The Waking Dark, Another Little Piece, and (Don’t You) Forget About Me. Horror. My favorite currently airing TV shows are Supernatural & Sleepy Hollow. Horror. And all along, in my head, I kept telling myself that this book was the exception, not the rule, but I think I’ve had so many exceptions recently I need to admit it to myself.
Here’s the thing: For so long, I decided I didn’t like horror because I don’t like GORE. I don’t like seeing or reading about torture, or dismemberment, or body parts in jars. I don’t like serial killer horror(most of the time)–or anything with just lots of killing and killing. I like psychological horror, and supernatural horror. That’s the kind of horror I can stand, and the kind of horror that intrigues me. And I’ve found there’s plenty of horror without loads of gore(or at least, a gore level I can tolerate. I had to skip some scenes in Another Little Piece).
I’ve enjoyed the horror books that explore humanity. . . while sometimes not appearing to explore humanity at all, but the supernatural. I remember in high school I had to read an essay Stephen King wrote on why we read horror. At the time, I was firmly in my horror-disagreement stance, and didn’t like it at all. Now, though? I have to say I’d probably agree.
Let’s talk: Have you ever re-examined your views of a genre? How do you feel about horror? Have you ever felt, as I used to, that horror really meant gore?