During the month of October, I took part in the Two questions with… Halloween Edition blog tour! This week, we’re doing a recap of all those spooky shenanigans. So, if you missed a week, take a look at these harrowing delights… otherwise known as my answers.
Q: How do you define Horror?
A quick internet search will bring up definitions like, “painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay”, “aversion or repugnance”, and “an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting”.
I confess, I’ve never been a horror fan. Mostly because I define horror as something that’s often excessively filled with lots of gore—think the Saw movies. I know it’s a huge industry, probably one of the biggest even, but I’ve never understood the willingness to read/watch something purposely designed to repulse you. I’m assuming it has something to do with an adrenaline rush, but sadly, it’s not my thing. Also, I have a highly active imagination, so I tend to be more fearful of what my own brain will conjure up post-horror movie. And I daren’t ever try to read a horror book because I’d likely never sleep again—thank you, imagination.
That said, I love dark and twisty things, and I have enjoyed a few horror movies over the years, but they’re generally more of a psychological horror which I’d probably class as more of a thriller… which leads to question number 2…
Q: Is there any difference between Horror and Thriller? If so, what is it?
I truly believe there is a major difference between Horror and Thriller. I dislike Horror, but I LOVE Thriller!
Again, a quick internet search provides definitions like, “a high degree of intrigue, adventure, or suspense”, “an exciting and frightening story”, and “surprise, anticipation and anxiety”.
So, while Horror is designed to repulse, Thrillers are meant to, well, thrill. They’re exciting and make you think. They take you on a suspenseful journey through twists and turns, and if done well, they’ll surprise you with something at the end. Sure, there are overlaps, but I think in general there can be a clear distinction between the two genres.
Q: Monsters: Do you prefer: External – something that we have to overcome, something that isn’t “Us.” (Giant Sharks, alien invasion, Rabid Trees, etc) or Internal – Something that shows us that “We” could be the monsters (Carrie, Psycho, Vampires, etc)?
I LOVE internal monsters! This is definitely my catnip.
I’m a sucker for fantastical creatures, but that’s not at all limited to evil monsters. Give me an intricate villain (or even a hero harbouring a dark side), a mere mortal or a creature of sorts, that’s a monster on the inside, and I’m thrilled.
It presents a whole host of questions. How did they get to be so evil? Were they always evil or did something happen—nature VS nurture? Do they have redeemable qualities, something that keeps them from stepping over that sadistic line, or are they already way beyond that?
I’ve been known to explore this theme, and will probably continue to explore it in future. I’m fascinated by the endless possibilities…
Q: Which Horror Trope would you love to see die, and never return from the grave?
Evil dolls—particularly those meant for kids—that come to life!
Seriously. When I was about eight, my older cousin had her thirteenth birthday party, and since our families were (and still are) really close, I joined the fun even though I was much younger. Bad idea. Why, you ask?
Turned out that a viewing of Chucky was on the menu. I’m not going to delve too deep into those memories, but I’ve never quite recovered. Largely because I’d been given a porcelain doll by my dear grandmother… which I genuinely loathed and despised—good thing she’ll never see this. When I got home after the party, I asked my mom to remove said porcelain doll from my room. FAR from my room.
I’ve never been able to look at a doll the same way again. In fact, I still get the creeps when my niece plays with her dolls. So, this is a trope I would truly love to see die and never, EVER, return. Please, and thank you!
Q: What is your favorite part of the Season?
So, I’m actually South African, and we don’t really celebrate Halloween here. At least not to the extent of countries like America. Each year seems to bring more emphasis on the creepy holiday, but that’s only been in the last few years anyway.
We don’t trick or treat.
We don’t carve pumpkins to make Jack-o-lanterns.
The commercial world does like to grab onto the Halloween theme. TV networks run Horror movie marathons. Shops do a scary-inspired sale. And you’ll find a good deal of Halloween-themed chocolate. But mostly—at least in the last handful of years—people have Halloween parties, enjoying the excuse to dress-up. Again, it’s on a much smaller scale, but it’s growing steadily.
If we did go all-out on the celebrations, I think my favourite part would be the costumes and party decor. I’m kind of known for going overboard with themed parties, so Halloween is the perfect excuse to go wild and have fun. A couple years ago, I threw my sister a Rocky Horror Picture Show themed 30th birthday party. Actually, we called it her “Thirty Horror Birthday Show”. Fake blood and spider webs everywhere. Crazy outfits I shall not even mention. A corset cake I made from scratch. It was a blast. And could very easily double up as a Halloween party.
Q: Favorite October Food?
Since October means springtime with a hint of summer in South Africa, this is totally different from the American version of pumpkin-spiced lattes that I see mentioned on Twitter.
I don’t think I have a particular food that I crave in October. I AM a coffeeholic all year round, but that doesn’t change come October. With the warmer weather, I’ll probably go for ice cream more often since that’s my other weakness! Also, new fruits start to show themselves—like nectarines and papaya (or paw paw as we call it here). Finally, I’m a huge fan of citrus, so October means saying goodbye to those last few stragglers still hanging around. Time to get your fill before they all disappear until next winter.
That’s not a very exciting list, is it? Coffee, ice cream, and fruit. I’m a simple creature.
Q: What was the first book (who was the first Author) to frighten you in a story?
So, I’ve never read a really scary book. I know, gasp!
However, the first author I read that had the most creep-tastic creatures was Kelly Creagh with her YA novel Nevermore—inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. I think it’s classed as a YA fantasy/paranormal with hints of horror and romance. I loved the Goth elements and the subtle creep factor that grows and develops as the tale unfolds.
The crowning glory—for me—are the Nocs. They are humanoid type creatures, with feathers for hair, sharp fang-like teeth… and best of all, they’re made from something akin to porcelain. When they get injured, as they do, they shatter, leaving gaping, jagged holes in their torsos or faces. Or their hands and legs smash off, and they have to replace them with former Noc parts.
They are amazingly disturbing and perfectly fitted for Creagh’s eerie, Goth atmosphere.
Q: How do you handle frightening elements in your writing?
I don’t have many frightening elements in my writing. It’s usually more of an internal terror—tragic pasts that leave characters damaged. For example, in one of my romantic suspenses, my FMC witnesses the brutal murder of her mother as a child. This obviously has a ripple effect and causes a lot of issues for her later in life and sets off the main plot. In my current romantic suspense WIP, I’m giving both my MCs very tragic background / childhoods that will come back to haunt them in the present timeline.
Sensing a theme? I like working in past traumas that filter through over the years. It creates layers of damage that can really develop as the MC ages. I use these as a way to build suspense, though. Not exactly frightening, but its close enough.
Q: What is your go-to scary/Halloween movie?
So, as I said in week one of our tour, I’m not a Horror fan, however, there are some scary movies I enjoy.
One I’d probably class as more Thriller than Horror is The Others. I remember when it came out years ago, my sister thought it was the creepiest thing. For me, this movie falls into psychological thriller rather than a gore-fest horror, which is probably why I like it. On a lighter note, I enjoy the quirkier Halloween movies. I love A nightmare before Christmas. As a kid, Hocus Pocus both thrilled and terrified me in equal measures, and who doesn’t love Practical Magic?
But, for me, the ultimate Halloween movie is the 1994 cult favourite, The Crow. My CP bestie and today’s tour host, Janet and I have discussed our mutual love of this movie. It’s obviously not scary, but it does center around Devil’s Night, the night before Halloween, so I’m claiming this as my top pick!
Q: Funny (Now) scary anecdote to share?
I’ve had back luck with the (few) scary movies I’ve watched over the years. First, at age eight, there was Chucky—hard pass. Then, at age eleven, my best friend was a boy obsessed with snakes, so of course for his birthday he wanted to go see Anaconda. My other best friend and I spent the entire movie clutching each other in our seats, and burying our faces in each other’s hair. Again, hard pass.
As if I hadn’t yet learnt my lesson, a later best friend talked me into going to watch House of Wax when it released back in 2005. As a teen girl, I was swayed by the promise of cute boys, so the two of us went to see it alone one night.
Somehow, the theatre was mostly empty, so we sat near the middle, pretty close to the back. The movie was about halfway through, right in the midst of scary wax-covered humans with their skin peeling off (yeah, no thanks)…
This strange croaky breathing came from behind our seats. It rasped in and out, growing deeper.
I turned to my friend with a WTF expression.
Her eyes were huge, just as freaked as I was…
We turned—slowly—to glance over our shoulders… and found an old woman sitting in the row behind us… fast asleep, and on the verge of snoring.
She continued for the rest of the movie, which added to the low-budget scary vibes because she always seemed to time those croaking snores at just the right, scariest moments. BF and I laughed so hard when we left the theatre, but at the time it was the freakiest thing EVER!
Look for more harrowing fun at:
Pat Esden’s Mythmaker Blog
R J Theodore’s website
Ken Schrader’s It’s All In My Head
K Bird Lincoln’s What I Should Have Said
Janet Walden-West’s Blog