001: What Horror Isn’t

The Bone Pile: Horror Reviews and Introspectives by K. Edwin Fritz

Hi there folks, and welcome to The Bone Pile, a brand new blog all about Horror, exclusive to Fiction Vortex!

So this is weird… I had a whole introduction all written & ready to go. I mentioned my goals for this blog plus a bit of my personal experience & passion for Horror; I even tossed in a suggestion about the value I believe this awesome genre provides to our world…

…and then two days ago something happened that made me scrap all that. Here’s what happened:

I was hanging out at the mall, getting some writing done, when some kid came up to me & asked if I’d like to fill out his “survey about world consciousness”. I happily obliged, added my answers to his dozen questions directly into his composition notebook, then went back to writing. Five minutes later, the kid nabbed a thirty-something couple and halfway through their answers I overheard this:

Stephen King-1

Is This Really the Face of a Demented Madman?

“Ok, next question… ‘Who is the one person, living or dead, you’d most like to meet/ have dinner with/ talk to?’ Huh. Somebody wrote ‘Stephen King’. Who’d want to meet him? He’s demented.”

Yes, I had been the one who had written ‘Stephen King’.

No, I didn’t confront them on it.

But I wish I had.

So here’s the thing about Horror: Most people either love it or hate it.

And that’s fine.

But what’s not fine, in my humble opinion, is when people eagerly share just how much they hate it but never have valid reasons for doing so.

It boggles my mind they could use such a strong word for something they know almost nothing about.

So this first Bone Pile post is my attempt to dispel some of the nasty rumors surrounding this breathtaking form of storytelling.


HORROR IS NOT THE RAMBLINGS OF HIDDEN PSYCHOPATHS

Me & Greg

Me + A Former Student Who Came By To Say Hi Several Years After Being In My Class

Yes, I read and write Horror. That doesn’t make me evil.

I’m actually a pretty nice guy. Kind of a big, squishy teddy bear, to be honest. I buy my wife roses. I feed stray dogs. I even help friends load & unload their moving trucks.

I don’t claim to be perfect, but I’m nowhere near the immoral villain some people seem to think I secretly must be inside.

Sometimes when I meet someone & tell them I’m an author, the follow conversation will ensue:

THEM: “What kind of things do you write?”

ME: “Well, Horror mostly, but I also wri—”

THEM: “Oh!” [And they visibly stiffen.] “That’s… um… I don’t like that stuff.”

ME: [sigh… nod… blink]

Face of Disgust

Face of Disgust

Some make faces of disgust. (How’s that for immoral?)

I’ve even seen a few take a literal step backwards.

Really? Like I’m on the verge of stabbing them with every passing second and only hold back by sheer will power.

Calm down, people. I’m just a regular guy who enjoys scary stories.

Think of it like this: Horror writers are the Haunted Houses of the amusement park world. It may be not everyone’s favorite ride, but behind all the sound effects and smoke, everyone knows it’s just another way to have a good time. And for some people it’s the best ride of all.

So what causes such strong reactions?

One word: Ignorance.

More often than not, Horror-Haters haven’t actually read any Horror themselves and assume every page is dripping with descriptions of overt violence and demons thirsting for blood.

It’s not, and such people are sadly ignorant as to what Horror actually entails… something I hope to rectify over the course of this blog.


HORROR IS NOT A CRY FOR HELP FROM A FORMERLY-ABUSED CHILD

Another common misbelief is that Horror lovers must have had a cruel childhood.

This is ridiculous.

As Stephen King puts it so succinctly: Whenever someone asks him what kind of an upbringing he had, what they’re really asking is “What happened in your childhood that messed you up so much?”

Nice Guy Stephen King

Stephen King… A Nice Guy

King himself will be the first to tell you he had a great childhood. I did, too. By all accounts we were both surrounded with all the appropriate love, discipline, & fine family memories you’d hope to give your own children. Yet this sentiment that we must be damaged somehow persists.

Again, you ask, “Why?”

My answer: Because it’s easier to assume the only way these ideas could come to us must come from personal experience.

News Flash, people: Authors are creative people. That’s the short & long of where we get our ideas, no matter what genre of choice we may have.


HORROR IS NOT ALWAYS SUPERNATURAL

Supernatural Monster

Supernatural Monsters… the Standard, or the Exception?

While it’s true most Horror does involve vampires, werewolves, ghouls, and many other undead or unreal monsters, newcomers to the genre should be prepared to see plenty of Realistic Fiction as well.

In fact, the human monsters that often appear in Horror stories are arguably more frightening than the made-up ones.

To understand why, however, we’ll need to discuss What Horror IS

…which I’m saving for next week.

FINAL THOUGHT

If there’s one take-away from this, it’s that Horror readers & authors are probably just as Book Hugnice and sane as any regular guy or girl.

So don’t be afraid to give us a high-five, a hug, or even (gasp!) check out our favorite stories.

You might just find that you’ve been missing out on some pretty cool stories and people.

Ever had a similar experience? Tell me about it.

Think I’m exaggerating a bit? That’s cool too.  

Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

-K. Edwin Fritz

“Don’t judge me by the book in my hands. Judge me by what I’ve learned by reading it.”

K. Edwin Fritz

K. Edwin Fritz

Official Horror Blogger of the Fiction Vortex

Keith Edwin Fritz entered this world on Halloween. The year, 1974, was the same as when Stephen Edwin King published his first novel. Keith prefers to think neither the date nor their middle names were a coincidence.
Today Keith teaches 7th Grade Language Arts and writes to his heart’s content during his "spare time". The best of these moments are nearly always by moonlight. The worst of them are also by moonlight.
Keith lives with his wife, Corina, in Lawrenceville, NJ.

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2 replies
  1. Emily Kelly
    Emily Kelly says:

    I completely agree with this! Preach! Absolutely! A large quantity of my friends are concerned for my well-being because of my undying (no pun intended) love for horror! Thank you for sharing your opinion and perspective with me and I hope to see more columns like this! You rock.

    Reply
    • K Edwin Fritz
      K Edwin Fritz says:

      Thanks, Emily. I’m glad you liked it, though I’m sorry some of your friends & family feel the same way as mine. Truly, we have a long way to go to educate the rest of the world about what Horror really is (and isn’t). 😉

      Reply

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