Category Archives: horror

Genres of Literature – Grotesque


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The Grotesque is often linked with satire and tragicomedy, in which the author conveys grief and pain to the audience. The term was first used to denote a literary genre with Montaigne’s Essays. Many of the earliest written texts described grotesque happenings and monstrous creatures within mythology, which was of course a rich source of monsters. Examples, such as the one-eyed Cyclops from Hesiod’s Theogony or Polyphemus in Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where we find grotesque transformations and hybrid creatures of myth. 

This genre was a departure from the classical models of order, reason, harmony, balance and form, opening up an entry into grotesque worlds. British literature abounds with native grotesquerie, from the strange worlds of Spenser’s allegory in The Faerie Queene, to the tragi-comic modes of 16th-century drama. 

Occasionally, literary works of mixed genre are termed grotesque, such as “low” or non-literary genres such as pantomime and farce. Gothic writings often have grotesque components such as character, style and location while other describe the environment as grotesque. Examples being urban (Charles Dickens), or American south literature,  termed as “Southern Gothic”. Other grotesque uses have been social and cultural formations, such as the carnival(-esque) in François Rabelais and Mikhail Bakhtin. Or in satirical writings of the 18th century, such as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

Thereby fictional characters are considered grotesque if they induce both empathy and disgust by way of physically deformity or mental deficiency, but also if the character has cringe-worthy social traits. In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the figure of Caliban inspired more nuanced reactions than simple scorn and disgust. Also, in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the character of Gollum may be considered to have both disgusting and empathetic qualities, which fit him into the grotesque template.

One of the most celebrated grotesques in literature is Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and of course Dr. Frankenstein’s monster can also be considered a grotesque, although he is presented more sympathetically as the outsider who is the victim of society’s alienation as they describe him as  ‘the creature.’

There are also examples of grotesque literature during the nineteenth-century, however the grotesque body was displaced by the notion of congenital deformity or medical anomaly.  And more in terms of deformity and disability, especially after the First World War, 1914-18. The growth of prosthetic’s created themes of half-mechanical men and became an important theme in dadaist work.

You may be surprise to know that Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is deemed grotesque literature due to the many fantastic grotesque figures she meets. However, Carroll managed to make the figures seem less frightful and fit for children’s literature.

Were any of these surprising to you?

Have you written grotesque fiction?

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Author Interview Timothy Friend


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Timothy Friend

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Most days writing leaves me energized. Some days I procrastinate, and on those days it’s exhausting.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

In the early stages of a project any distraction has the potential to be writing Kryptonite. When I get deeper into the story and the pages have started to add up distractions have less impact.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I’ve never given any serious thought to using a pseudonym.

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I have friends who are photographers, filmmakers, and musicians, but no writers. The closest thing would be a couple of professors who have had a strong influence on me.

gunmen

  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

So far all of my work has been stand-alone. I like the idea of doing a series, and plan to revisit the characters from my western novella “Gunmen” soon.

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money I ever spent as a writer was purchasing a copy of Stephen King’s “On Writing.” I highly recommend it.

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

When I was in the fifth grade my class read the Ray Bradbury story “All Summer in a Day,” and it put me in a deep funk. That was the first time I thought about words on a page having any sort of lasting power. Later in the year we read “Flowers for Algernon,” which further strengthened that notion. Looking back now, it seems the fifth grade was one seriously depressing year.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

“The Girl Next Door” by Jack Ketchum.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

A giant tortoise. They’re slow and steady, and they live a long time.

Rocket Rider

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I currently have two unpublished books. One is a horror novel, the other is a crime novel.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

Literary success, to me, is continuing to be published. Financial reward is always nice, but honestly, if money were the primary goal I would take up a different occupation.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I don’t like to hold up the writing to do research, as that tends to kill off my enthusiasm. If I am writing about a different time period, or an unusual location, I’ll do some light reading on the subject before I begin writing. After that I limit my research to specific questions that arise as I’m working on the story. By the end of the process I find I’ve done a good deal of research in total, which leaves me prepared to fix my mistakes in the rewrite.

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

I try to write three hours a day, six days a week- 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

Names have to be just right for me be able to move forward. They can come from anywhere. I’ve found character names on road signs, cleaning products and old comic books. Sometimes they come quickly, sometimes they are a struggle. But when I find the right one I can feel it.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

Any scene where I have to kill a character I’ve grown to like is difficult to write. I wrote a death scene for a dog that was especially rough.

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I began writing horror, and most of my stories involved criminals. I quickly discovered I was more interested in the criminals than the horror, and so I shifted my focus to crime fiction. I find when I write in other genres I still tend to focus on criminals.

  1. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since the second grade. That was the year children’s author Scott Corbett (The Lemonade Trick) came to my second grade class to speak. Up until then I had no real idea that making up stories was an actual job that people had. Once I found that out I knew no other job would do. I’ve been writing ever since.

  1. What inspires you?

Good writing inspires me. Especially by writers who have a better facility with language than I do.

  1. How do you find or make time to write?

I’m fortunate enough to have a schedule that allows me the time to write.

  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

At the moment I’m looking for a home for my crime novel “The Pretenders.” It was set to be released last year, but unfortunately the publisher closed shop before that happened.

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

Future projects include the previously mentioned “Gunmen” sequel.

  1. You can find out more about my work here: http://www.timothyfriend.net/

Short stories included in:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bio:

Timothy Friend is a writer and independent filmmaker whose fiction has been published in Crossed-Genres, Thuglit, and Needle: A Magazine of Noir. He is the writer and director of the feature film, “Bonnie and Clyde vs. Dracula,” distributed by Indican Pictures. He holds an MFA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Writing Prompt Wednesday


Your prompt today is to use these words in a short story or poem – octopus, surrender, bright

Have fun! My story is below.

octopus

Tentacle Encounter

With a deep breath, I plunged into the bright blue ocean. The water felt cool against my skin, refreshing after the heat of the Caribbean sun. Goggles and snorkel tightly strapped to my head, I gazed at the beautiful corral and brightly coloured fish swimming in all directions away from me. Careful to swim slowly and keep the top of my snorkel above the water, I rounded an outcrop of rock to find a steep drop ahead. The pale seawater around me descended into a dark hole dropping into unknown depths. What lay within those dark waters? I had promised to keep to the shallows but the temptation was too much. Just a quick look would be all right, surely?

I surfaced to look toward the beach and locate my parents. They were lying on beach loungers, enjoying cocktails under the palm trees. Too busy to notice their son swimming beyond the corral reef, identified as his limit. Breathing in and out several times, I filled my lungs to bursting, having no idea how long I would have to swim downwards. Using strong strokes I descended quickly into the gloom. Shimmering lines of light highlighted more brightly adored fish and corral at first then it became darker and colder.

My lungs were beginning to complain when I saw a long tentacle grab a small fish. An octopus! Wow, now I did have to keep going. What if I could catch it? As I turned, an undulating mass rose from the rock ahead of me. It was changing colour from deep brown to pinkish beige as it swam upwards. Following closely, I anticipated its direction and quickly held three of its tentacles, swimming to the surface in a rush as my head was becoming dizzy. Gasping for air while holding my captive tightly, I did not have enough breath to call out to my Dad.

A tentacle wrapped around my arm while another found my throat and began to squeeze. That’s not good. I slid a hand between a couple of suckers and my neck and pushed with all my strength. For a small animal it sure was strong. I needed to grab all the tentacles then it would surely surrender. I only wanted to show Dad then I would let it go.

A couple of tentacles wrapped around my right thigh making treading water difficult. I just needed to get to the shallows then I could walk and shout to my Mum and Dad. A mouthful of water made me cough and swallow more. Spots burst in front of my eyes. I was sinking. Kicking as furiously as I could with my left leg I surfaced for a moment and gasped for air. I had to get this thing off me or I would be the one surrendering.

“All right, lad?”

It was a strangers voice behind me. I turned my head as far as I could to plead for help. The tentacle around my throat was too tight for me to speak now.

“Let’s get him off you, shall we?”

A slight nod from me was enough for the man to pull at the octopus and release my neck from its grip. Next he wrestled the tentacles around my leg and then I was free. The last I saw of that octopus was its tentacles flying through the air before plunging into the depths.

“Thank you so much. Thought I would drown.”

“Have to be careful out here, young man. Keep to the shallows and you should be all right.”

I held out my hand to the stranger. He smiled and gave it a firm shake.

“Lesson learned?”

“You bet. Thanks again.”

I didn’t relay my story to my parents until a few days later when we were on the flight home. I knew they would have forbidden me to go in the ocean otherwise. Although, I did heed the stranger’s advice and kept to the shallows for the rest of our stay.

I would love to read your story/poem – why not share in the comments?

 

Genres of Literature – Crime Fiction


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Crime fiction fictionalizes a multiple of crimes from murder to kidnapping to extortion. The narratives relay how the criminal gets caught, and the repercussions of the crime as well as their detection, the criminals, and their motives. It is usually distinguished from mainstream fiction such as historical fiction or science fiction, however, the boundaries are indistinct. Crime fiction has multiple sub-genres which include detective fiction or whodunits. courtroom dramas, hard-boiled fiction and legal thrillers.  Most crime fiction deals with the crime’s investigation rather than the court room. Suspense and mystery are key elements nearly ubiquitous to the genre. 

Crime Fiction was recognized as a distinct literary genre in the 19th century with specialists writers and a devoted readership. Earlier novels typically did not have the modern systematic attempts at detection: with no detective or indeed police trying to solve the case but rather more mystery in context. Such as a ghost story, a horror story, or a revenge story. The ‘locked room; mystery was a precursor to the detective stories. The most famous of course is Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, whose mental deductions and astute observations led him to the culprits. Two other notable authors in this ‘new’ genre were Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers.  

 

  • Detective fiction
  • Cozy Mystery
  • Whodunit
  • Historical whodunit
  • Locked room whodunit
  • Locked room mystery
  • Police procedural
  • Forensic
  • Legal thriller
  • Spy novel
  • Caper story
  • Psychological thriller
  • Parody or spoof

Each one commonly has a lot of suspense, hidden clues, a charismatic detective and an elusive criminal. The genre continues to develop with character analysis, covering specific themes, LGBT crimes and police investigation themes.

Have you written crime fiction? 

Which sub-genre do you write?

Why not share a link?

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday


Your prompt is to describe a ‘horror’…

This is my response.

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Aaron swung his legs onto the cold hardwood floor and cradled his head in his hands. Sleep had come; surprisingly; shortly before dawn – a short respite from his inner turmoil. The previous hours had seen him suffering intense horror and fright. What should he do now? Would anyone believe his story or even understand Shelley’s actions? Even Aaron was having difficulty comprehending why she would do such a thing.

With a deep breath Aaron slowly stood up and pulled on jeans and a T-shirt. He would have to face the carnage now, his first instinct, last night, had been to run but where could he have run to? No matter where he went they would hunt him down. He had huddled into the corner of the room shaking with fear and shock – his mind exploding with repeated images of their argument and Shelley’s vicious words cutting him as surely as any knife. Her unreasonable behavior had escalated the more he tried to pacify her and reassure her of his love. Her ear piercing screaming had been accompanied with any object within arm’s reach being thrown at him as Shelley emphasized her cruel words. Shards of glass and china showered down the walls and littered the floor – several had found their target and Aaron could now see cuts and bruises up the length of his arms. As he grabbed the bedroom door handle he struggled to keep his hand from shaking – afraid to face the scene of their fight.

You can’t stay in here for the rest of your life Aaron – get going. He walked through the doorway and down the hallway into the large living room. The absolute destruction of the room was similar to what a tornado could do. Picture frames, vases, lamps, chairs – all were broken or shattered and strewn like discarded toys. Aaron headed for the front door stepping carefully to avoid sharp shards of glass embedding into his bare feet. Once at the door he put on a pair of trainers and turned to face the devastation, but his body refused to continue turning toward the far corner. Images flashed across his vision of Shelley’s angry contorted face as spit flew out of her mouth along with her venomous words. Aaron stumbled as the flashback drained his head of blood. Don’t pass out in the midst of this mess, get control for God’s sake.

Aaron up-righted a chair and sat down taking deep breathes in an effort to keep calm. A ray of sunlight pierced through the drapes and threw glints of light around him, revealing the extent of the damage. It truly did look like a tornado had blown through, there didn’t seem to be anything left unscathed. Aaron’s ears buzzed with the absolute silence so startling after last night’s turmoil. You need to look now. He turned to face the far corner, all his muscles tensing in anticipation to see her body – the gun still in her hand.

Why not share your response in the comments..?