Horror: Didn't know I Liked it
So to start, I saw a post recently by Brian Asman, author of MAN, F*^K THIS HOUSE, where he stated he was pleading with websites to hire people who like horror to write about horror.
I thought that was interesting because I recently realized I really like the horror genre, but for years I told people I hated it.
Years and years and years ago, I read Chris Cleave's Little Bee. I got to the iconic scene where Little Bee, A Nigerian immigrant who faced terrible violence in her youth, tells the English family who adopted her,
“Horror in your country is something you take a dose of to remind yourself that you are not suffering from it. For me and the girls from my village, horror is a disease and we are sick with it.”
And I was like, I'm not from a war torn village and this STRONGLY resonates with me. Why on Earth would I want to read about men doing horrible things to women?
Because that was what I figured all horror was. Sexual violence sandwiched between creative regular violence, or reverse that, depending on the author. Why, as a woman particularly, spend my free time steeped in such media?
Then a friend of mine, a woman, a woman with adult children who works in a school, told me she was getting into horror, and I was like, what now? What menopausal aged woman who works with kids all day wants to read about all the f'ed up things people dream of doing to them?
And she told me to read Grady Hendrix's My Best Friend's Exorcism. So I did, and I was thought, wait, the girls are the main characters? They aren't being locked in basements? I mean there is a character who gets locked in a cabin, but the other girl does it for a heroic reason.
So, then I read Stephen Graham Jone's The Only Good Indians, and I cried. I cried at the ending it was so, so, so beautiful. And while there is always a good bit of gore in a SGJ novel, the ending, to this day, is my favorite of any book I've ever read.
So then, I was like, wait, these are horror books? Books with female protagonists battling elkhead women, gaslighting, and being a teenager?
And then I thought of all the other books I love so much:
Mexican Gothic, Ghost Bride, Blackwater... THESE ARE ALL HORROR?
They are, and they are helmed by women protagonists battling sexism, cultural norms, ghosts, sentient mold, the patriarchy, and more.
And I realized, horror is a genre that includes stuff I literally hate, but it's a big umbrella, not a spearpoint.
So, if you too think horror is just about sexual violence and men waiting to stab you from behind your landscaping while you're just trying to get into your house after a long day of work, I'm here to tell you, it's so, so, so, so much more than that.
In my world, the best horror makes you a little unsettled, but it keeps the door open for the world to be just a bit more magical than it might be now.
In my next post, I'll line out some horror books you just might like, even if you think you don't like horror.