Horror! I like reading it, I like watching it. I like reading writing about horror books, and about horror films. I even like reading writing written about books about horror. So I thought I may as well add to all the writings myself, the result of which is this blog here, Fear of Fiction. Welcome!
I still don't know why I like horror quite as much as I do, but I remember how the fandom started... At about the age of eight I was told the classic "humans can lick too" story (hand-licking-madman-under-the-bed / dog's-head-in-the-shower variation.) It played on my mind for weeks, became something of a horror benchmark, and gave me a taste for the scary stuff.
As an eleven-year-old in the early '90s, obtaining decent horror movies was not an easy task, and so my friends and I would put a great deal of time and effort into getting hold of some of the better films (or, to give them their proper description, "The Scariest Thing You Will EVER SEE, EVER!") The options were generally: a) bribe older sibling into going to Blockbusters; b) rent something shoddy from amoral local newagents; c) learn how to program the VCR and hope Channel 4 might screen something half-decent. The net result was that we didn't get to see many, but then for myself even overhearing a friend at school talking about the film IT was enough to scare the bejesus out of me, so perhaps it was just as well.
The fact is, I was (maybe still am) a massive horror coward. I lasted all of thirty seconds into the Phantom Phantasia ride at Thorpe Park before becoming thoroughly terrified. At the Chamber of Horrors on a family trip to Madame Tussaud's I took one look at the dank stone steps before freaking out and having to walk round the rest of it with my eyes shut, clutching my mother's hand. (I did, however, spend the Tube ride home utterly transfixed by the pictures of said chamber in the guide book - ah, the paradoxical nature of the horrific spectacle!)
The thing that used to scare me most, however, was a book. My mum would sometimes walk me home from school, and on the way was an antiques shop. The shop was on two floors and still had the layout of a Victorian terraced house, so that all the kitchen antiques would be in one room, all the clothes in another and so on. The result when you entered the shop was the slightly unsettling feeling of visiting the house of a person who just happened to own twenty of everything. I can't remember how exactly how I ended up with it, but after one of these antique shop visits I became the proud owner of Dangerous Ghosts by Elliott O'Donnell. This book had everything. It had grotesque faces that appeared on everyday objects, ghostly trains, beheaded queens, omens of death and eerie creatures. More importantly, it had yellowed pages, a worn hardback cover and a genuine old-paper smell. It scared the hell out of me for a long, long time, but I couldn't stop reading it. It seemed to me like some artefact I'd stumbled upon that told a horrible truth, and it fascinated and appalled me equally. The way I felt about Dangerous Ghosts is the basis for the way I feel about all horror fiction, and the reason why I'm still so enamoured of the genre today.
I'll be using this blog to write about the horror I love (and some that I loathe), horror theory I've been reading about and whatever other horror-related items that spring into my brain. I'd welcome any comments, and I thank you for reading!