Horror is a genre of fiction, of which, the defining trait is to provoke a response; either emotional, psychological or physical, within readers that causes them to react with fear, dread, disgust, or is frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting and even startles it’s readers with the text.
Horror: Ancient Greece and Rome
This genre has ancient origins with roots in folklore and religious traditions, which focused on death, the afterlife, evil, the demonic and also a ‘thing’ embodied in the person. This manifested as stories of witchcraft, vampires, werewolves, and ghosts.
Horror: Medieval Era
Much of horror fiction derived itself from the cruelest faces in world history, particularly those who lived in the fifteenth-century. “Dracula” can be traced to the Prince of Wallachia Vlad III, whose alleged war crimes were published in German pamphlets in the late Fifteenth Century and resulted in stories of horrifying detail.
Gothic horror: 18th century
Slowly the horror genre became traditional Gothic literature. 18th century Gothic horror drew on sources of seminal and controversial elements of the supernatural instead of pure realism.
Horror: 19th century
After the Gothic tradition blossomed the genre became the horror literature we now know in the 19th century. Influential works and characters still continue to resonate, such as Brother’s Grimm and Hansel & Gretel (1812) and of course Frankenstein (1818) and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. (1820)
Cheap periodicals became prolific at the turn of the century, leading to a boom in horror writing. Horror writers of the time included H.P. Lovecraft pioneering cosmic horror and M.R. James redefining the ghost story. Also the serial murderer became a recurring theme.
Contemporary horror fiction
As most of you know Stephen King is my hero and it is the best-known contemporary horror writer. His stories have delighted and frightened many of us for decades, from Carrie to Sleeping Beauties and all those tales in-between.
I have to admit as a prolific reader of Mr. King, I am wary of ever writing a horror story because I don’t think I can measure up to his expertise.
Do you write horror? What theme do you favor?
What horror writers/books have you read and ‘enjoyed’?
Today’s interview is rather special as it is a joint interview with William L. Bozarth and Laura D. Jame, who worked together on a children’s story book – a perfect modus operandi..!
W = William L. Bozarth
L = Laura D. James
a) What do you enjoy most about writing?
L: I enjoy losing myself in writing and the “high” that it gives me. It’s amazing for me when I work on something and pretty much submerge myself in it then come back out later to the world around me feeling like I’ve been somewhere else.
W. Things that previously existed only in my imagination come to life. These squirrels have been living in my head for the better part of the last two years, so it’s nice to see them scurrying through these pages.
b) What age did you start writing stories/poems?
L. 5 years old, pretty much as soon as I learned how to read.
W. I started writing poetry for girlfriends when I was 11 or 12, but didn’t really take writing seriously until I was a junior in High School, so perhaps 16 or 17 years old. That’s when I started my first band, and I was the vocalist/lyricist. ‘Spooky Skwerl Stories’ is my second or third attempt at writing an actual story that isn’t in verse or screenplay form.
c) Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
L. I played around with fantasy/sci-fi when I was very young and have tried suspense/crime and literary (or just non-genre… mainstream?) here and there but I’ve always been enamored with the horror genre. The squirrel books were pretty much Will’s idea and I think this will be a lot of fun though I’m sure I have a lot to learn about writing spooky things for children.
W. I’ve always been a horror guy, so everything I’ve done could be categorized from personal horror to fictional horror.
d) What genre are you currently reading?
L. I haven’t been able to concentrate long enough to finish reading a book in a long time, I guess from being so obsessed with working on my own novel, and it bothers me since reading was always how I would relax. It’s pretty much always horror, though. I’ve got a few novels and anthologies that I pick up when I try to make myself read.
W. I wish I could say that I’m reading something, but I’m not.
e) Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
L. Mainly pleasure, sometimes research
W. I don’t read much, really. I used to read a lot when I was in elementary school, but the fun was kinda sucked out of it when they forced us to read gigantic novels in middle school. A twelve-year-older shouldn’t read ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’. It takes a bit for me to actually sit down and read something nowadays. The last book I read was Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’, and the ending disappointed me. Before that, it was Stephen King’s ‘Under the Dome’… and the ending disappointed me. Why take a month or more to read a large book, learn about all of these characters, cry for the loss of the characters, then have it all be explained by *spoiler removed* forces. So, I guess my answer is “research”. Since I don’t really get any pleasure out of it.
f) Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
L. My father: he’s encouraged my love of reading and writing since I was very young. He paid a lot of money for me to go to a college in another state to major in creative writing. That didn’t really work out but he’s never made me feel guilty about it and he’s believed in my ability/potential as a writer even when I haven’t. He never demanded I try to do something practical or get “a real job” and has always been 100% supportive of me writing because it’s what makes me happy. Will is a close second because he’s the brains behind all the adventures, endeavors and chaos we’ve been through. He’s got a plan for pretty much everything and more dedication and energy than I could sum up on my own. I also have to mention Julie Castillo, a writing instructor whose class I took a year ago and will be taking again at the community college in my town. She was the only writing teacher I’ve ever had who was totally supportive of what students wanted to write instead of what they “should” write (aka literary stuff) and she was just so wonderful and dedicated to everyone’s individual works. I kept up with her through e-mail after class and she helped me with a lot of questions and gave me lots of advice.
W. My parents have always been very supportive. I’ve never had any instances of Laura being unsupportive, thankfully.
g) Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
L. Probably a girl named Brigid who was a supporting character in the novel I just finished. She’s a timid young aspiring writer who goes through some crazy stuff with her friends. She’s a main character in the follow-up novel I’m planning and things just get crazier and scarier.
W. The combination of the squirrels in ‘Spooky Skwerl Stories’ since they’re characterizations of some of my personality traits.
h) Where is your favorite writing space?
L. My room, listening to some goth/doom metal
W. On a bus or train with my headphones on.
i) Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants writer?
L. I usually planned my short stories. When one of the stories turned into a novel I planned that thing out but it wound up going in a completely different direction and I’m glad. I’m planning other novels I want to write but they’re probably going to deviate from the plan, too, and it should be fun.
W. I have a beginning, middle, and end planned. It’s the getting from A to B to C that isn’t planned.
j) What inspires your ideas/stories?
L. Anything, really: anecdotes, places, snippets of things I hear on TV. Sometimes I’ll read/hear random details in stories that aren’t supposed to mean much of anything and they’ll just blossom into back-stories and plots in my mind.
W. Random thoughts.
k) Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
W. Facebook groups “Horror Writers” and “Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators”.
l) Do you have a book published? If so, what is it called & where can readers purchase it?
L. Not traditionally published yet but I’ll have to keep you posted. I’m waiting to hear back from the publisher I submitted my novel to and if they don’t take it I’ve got a few others I’m interested in. If I don’t get published, we will go the same route as ‘Spooky Skwerl Stories’.
W. Both of my books are available on Amazon. Just search for “William L. Bozarth”, and they’ll pop up.
m) If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
L. I would say Richard Matheson but he is no longer with us, so I’ll go with Peter Straub because I don’t think any other author has mystified, enthralled and terrified me quite like he has with the way he writes.
W. I’ve already met them, so I’m ahead of the game. :). Stephen King, R.L. Stine, and Lois Lowry.
n) Where can readers find you and your blog?
L. I don’t have a blog but you can find me through the Spooky Skwerl Stories facebook
L. I’ve got one or two novels planned as a follow-up for the one I think I might be planning an unrelated haunted house novel. Will and I have more ideas for Spooky Skwerl Stories than we know what to do with but we’ll figure something out.
Today’s word is Loath – definition: unwilling to do something : reluctant. As you will soon realize Yasir is loathed to be restricted to one genre.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
Gregorian the demon & Fagnor the banshee, side characters have an air of mystery about them. These two aid the protagonist, kind of, in his quest for revenge. Their qualities are as random as their presence, having wild-cards in a tale gives a story the kick others don’t have.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
Do I ever? I am definitely a dabbler, I have an imagination threshold when it comes to genres. I’m not a horror aficionado like Stephen King, I find that my words become somewhat stagnated. I have been warned by an author friend of mine that writing in multiple genres is dangerous. It may be my naivety or ignorance but I fail to see his logic. So to keep things refreshing for the reader I have already started dabbling, but I’m not going to tell you much more. Always leave them wanting more…
What do you enjoy most about writing?
How anomalous occurrences become the crux of the story, I fall into the category of writers that say the story writes itself. The side lines, the back stories and the random excursions are what give stories that texture readers crave. My own mind keeps me guessing so as I’m typing I am discovering. As the story unravels and characters reveal themselves I find myself immersed in the lunacy of creation.
Have you got a favorite place to write?
I wish I did, it’s a family home so we all share one computer. If I had the money I’d buy a nice house that has a nice study, a quiet room that has all the hallmarks of a writers retreat. I would surround myself, in this room, with vestiges of inspiration and creativity. One day my friends, one day…
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
A bit of both, I found planning gives the story structure and the “seat of the pants” strategy gives it flavor. Inspiration normally comes at night so I am always arms length from pen & paper. I write the idea down in my despicable handwriting and then when I get a moment I add it to the manuscript. I’m still growing as a writer but I am finding a rhythm to writing.
What inspires your stories?
Oh! Everything and anything. Films, books, music, theatre, dancing, a bird on a perch having a very large poop (apologies, I don’t mean to offend) it’s totally random. I could listen to a poem on the radio and it moves me to tears. Then again I could see a toddler hand a flower to his parent and I can feel every much joy as the parent. Inspiration by its very nature is from spirit so I suppose it’s in the spirit of the moment.
What are you currently reading?
OK, don’t hate me for saying this because I have been criticized in the past for saying what I’m about to say. I don’t like reading fiction, even though that’s pretty much what I write. I don’t mind poetry, I can read poetry but even short stories bore me. Now I know in some regions of the literary world I have just committed blasphemy. If I were to read anything then I only read self-development books. Currently I am not reading anything but I do want to get my hands on some NLP and mind programming books.
Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?
I do have some odd habits, but I don’t care to mention them. Childhood stories, if I told you it would sound quite generic. I got in trouble at schools, teachers annoyed me and I them, over the years I matured and discovered that life can be an adventure and I have the best family and friends in the world. See, generic.
Do you have any pets?
I have one zebra-finch, a miniature pooping machine (same apology as before)
I belong to New Writers UK, it’s a writing group that is run by authors for authors. It’s for writers in general but predominantly to help new writers, such as myself, to find their feet. They have exclusive events and resources that I am privy to being a member.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I started writing poetry at age 8
I started writing short stories at age 16
I tried writing a stage play at age 24
I am still dabbling in all of the above at age 25
Do you have a book published? If so what is it called & where can readers purchase it?
I do, it’s called Memoirs of the Damned and it is a horror story it can be found here:-
If you could meet one favorite author who would it be and why?
Maybe Dale Carnegie for his wisdom but I’m not too fussed with him. More than Mr. Carnegie I would like to meet Edgar Allen Poe to see if he was as crazy as everyone says. Also I would like to hear him read “The Raven”, James Earl Jones and Christopher Walken both have hypnotic voices but I believe that the true insanity of that poem should be experienced 1st hand from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Don’t worry I don’t have a morbid fascination with Poe, unlike the creator of The Following with Kevin Bacon – urgh –
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
Japan. I would like to live in a dojo in the country side. I would wear a kimono all day, be protected by a legion of Samurai in the morning and a squadron of Ninjas at night. A man can dream…
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
I have phases, what my favorite movie is at the moment might not be the case in a few months time. It’s a tie with Payback, Get Shorty and The Usual Suspects at the moment.
1 Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I don’t so much create characters as meet them . They’re a synthesis of my drug-addicted friends, beautifully demented girls, ex-boyfriends, other writers and experiences I’ve had. They come out of evaporated snow. Memory tapes. I don’t have much of a favorite character as they are all really the same person, some twisting amalgamation of me.
If I had to be an adult and actually pick a favorite character, it would be Jolene the swamp monster, inspired by Queen Adreena’s cover of the Dolly Parton song, also named Jolene. She has her own short story (also called Jolene, don’t tell anyone) that never saw the light of day, but is also in my novel The Crooked God Machine. She’s my favorite because she used to haunt me while I was taking a bath. She’d sing songs to me, so I took her from the song and put her into writing.
2. Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I’m a horror writer, despite everyone’s objection the contrary. From an Amazon review for A Gentle Hell: “Christian’s horror comes in more like an after thought, as something that is just part of these characters’ lives now and they just have to adapt to it.” If I was to be honest with myself I’d have to say I was more of a dark speculative fiction writer, as I write a lot of literary and science fiction, but always with a dark edge. Interestingly enough, I was talking to my girlfriend about this while I was hunched over on the bed trying not to drool on myself. I said, “maybe I should stop calling myself a horror writer.” But she said: “I think it suits you. There’s something about the imagery you like. You don’t call yourself a literary writer, or a sci-fi writer. You’re a horror writer. And I think you should own that.” So, horror writer it is.
3.Have you got a favorite place to write?
No, but in my head I imagine it’s in the back of a dirty house in a closet with cigarette-burned walls and drunks screaming. I’ve moved about twelve times in the last year, so I haven’t had time to create a nest and a work space that is really my own. I often find myself going to one of the nearby coffee shops to write, or getting to work early to write.
4.What inspires your stories?
This is the question that always inspires writers to act like assholes. What inspires my stories? Probably that my mother beat me.
5.Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
No. I have yet to find a writing group that hasn’t been particularly disappointing to me. I don’t feel as if I belong because it’s mostly been hobbyists and people who are scarily cheerful. Does that sound pretentious? Maybe it’s pretentious. I’m sorry. If it was pretentious.
6.What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I can’t remember exactly. I think I was six years old, sometimes around the first time I started going to kindergarten. My parents bought me a typewriter because only real writers wrote on a typewriter. I was a dark fuck even then.
7.Do you have a book published? If so what is it called & where can readers purchase it?
Yes, I have two. One is a dystopian horror novel called the Crooked God Machine, and it can be found on Amazon and Smashwords. The other is a collection published by Dark Continents called A Gentle Hell, exclusively on amazon here. Both are blasphemous, sexy and dark. Would recommend for the suicide or angry child in your life.
8.If you could meet one favorite author who would it be and why?
Philip K. Dick, as he is the messiah of our people and soon everything will be explained. But no, seriously, A Scanner Darkly is one of my favorite books. It’s absolutely perfect.
9.Where can readers find you and your blogs?
You can find me at autumnchristian.net, follow me on twitter at @autumnxtian follow my Facebook fan page here or subscribe to my newsletter here
10.Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
My girlfriend. We talked to each other through stories. I wove her into the fabric of my universe. When I am being a sad asshole she is my healer, pulls me up out of the dark and wraps me in blankets when the chill overtakes me.
Thanks to Autumn for a eclectic view to the writing art. Enjoy.