By Nick Rowan
“What do we need horror for anyway?”
The title was asked by a smart young person of my acquaintance who, at 11, has never been really afraid of anything. He has had sadness, a couple of deaths in the family, but not fear.
He has never sat on the exam table and heard the words, “The test is abnormal. You’re pre-cancerous.”
He has never fought for air as he was held under the surface of a lake, an air mattress on top of him.
He has never had a child vanish for days.
He hasn’t hidden in the woods, with people he loves, and watched armed men hunt them with rifles.
He hasn’t watched laws against people like him or those he loves spread across the country faster than those pre-cancerous cells spread through my body.
He hasn’t worked three jobs, knowing he’s not even making the mortgage payment, let alone utilities or food.
And I hope he never has to.
That, in a nutshell, is why we need horror. Neil Gaiman famously said, “Fairy tales are important not because they tell children there are dragons, but because they tell children the dragons can be beaten.”
Horror serves the same purpose. There are rules to it, as to every genre. And the monsters in the book or movie abide by those rules: vampires are allergic to sunlight, silver, crosses and garlic, werewolves change on the full moon, the psycho-killer is never killed by falling out the window. This is unlike the real world where the monsters just change the rules to suit them, and weaponize the machinery of the state against those who don’t like it.
Political? Sure. But these days, most of my fears ARE political. We’re on the eve of Pride Month and I’m considering buying the 16 oz. party-sized pepper spray. I’m definitely taking anti-tear gas measures with me. Although, how much trouble I can find sitting in the shade and reading tarot cards…
Right now, it feels as if we are living in a very large haunted house called the United States, and the flies are swarming in weird ways on the walls. Maybe we should run before the walls start bleeding?
Rules and tropes. We know how a movie or story will go, usually. Sometimes there is a twist. Sometimes the author or director doesn’t give us a true ending, just a freeze frame scene. But usually. The house will be cleansed and either collapse or settle down. The vampire will be staked. The werewolf will be shot with silver. The zombie apocalypse will end and humans will get back to business of civilization.
The monsters are real.
They can be fought.
It will get bloody and awful.
But it will end. And hopefully well.
But I can’t explain all that to an 11-year-old who has never been really afraid, for himself or for someone else.
On the other hand, I can offer you some of my dreams and nightmares, 15 to be precise.
Contes Cruels is French for “cruel stories,” and some of these are. Whether it’s a broken-hearted man fighting his memories, a clairvoyant trucker, a lover’s pledge, a haunted house actor protecting friends in a crisis or a promise made to a small child, these tales take you inside the darkness in everyone. The small pinpricks of light in the darkness are optional.
I am also running a promotion on my Patreon through Sunday, June 11. You can get a chance to win my entire backlist, as well as all the perks. There are free ways to enter as well: leave a review if you’ve read a book; or sign up for my mailing list (about once a month).
As for current projects:
- Memphis Pride, June 3. I’m in booth 506.
- Polestari yard sale, June 23-25, Bartlett, Tenn.
- Mephit Fur Meet: Aug. 31-Sept 4, Southaven, Miss.
- Sippin in September: Sept. 30, Farmington/French Village, Mo.
- Pagan Pride: Oct. 7, Nashville, Tenn.
- Festival of Souls: Oct. 12-15, Memphis, Tenn.
- Arkansas Scottish Festival, Oct. 27-29, Batesville, Ark.
I have nothing forthcoming. I’m working on several things, including a long-overdue short story. We are planning on finishing the next book in the Eight Thrones series this summer.
Where to find me: Linktree
NICK ROWAN is a bus driver who lives quietly in the mid-south. He writes and crafts to support his yarn habit, You can follow him on Facebook (NickRowan) or Patreon (NickRowan) or Twitter (@NickRowan16) or Tumblr (nicholasrowan) or blogger (NicholasRowanSp) or Etsy (thecarpenterswyfe). Nick has been writing professionally since 2004 as Angelia Sparrow.