* Note from Jess: The Horror Writers Association has a great page that seeks to define horror fiction. In this post, author Michael Robertson Jr. — who writes horror and suspense novels — shares his thoughts on what the genre means to him.
MY TAKE ON HORROR
Guest Post by Michael Robertson Jr.
Image from eBooks @ Adelaide
Let’s examine some things I’ve written about. Ready? Here goes: Grief-driven Serial Killer alter egos, snow monsters, lost identity, dueling spirits deep in the mountains, alien-possessed children, phones that ring to the past and expose gruesome murders, playing poker for your life, carnival games that’ll make you lose your lunch—these are just a few.
Now, think hard. What do all these things have in common? Anybody?
Hint: Nothing at all.
That’s just it: I don’t have regular central themes, I don’t have a formulaic approach to my new projects.
My catalog is a mosaic of ideas, a splattering of genre-crossing plots that all have been derived from one simple thought: What if?
That’s where nearly every story I’ve started (and not always finished) begins. I see something, hear something, read something, and then think to myself “What if X happened instead?” or “What’s the most unexpected thing that could happen now?”—and if the resulting idea would be a worst-case scenario for most anybody, something that might make somebody’s skin crawl or make them pray it never happens to them, I start to build on it, see If I can get a full story out of it.
This can be as simple as an argument between spouses resulting in death, or as random as bringing your kid home from day care and an hour later he eats the cat.
What if you went to the dentist and when the hygienist accidentally nicks you with the sharp thing she bends over and sucks the blood out of your mouth with her own two lips?
I just thought of that. Hmm, might have something there…
Face it. What-If’s are the root of all of YOUR fears. Think about it. What if you lose your job? What if your burglar alarm goes off in the middle of the night? What if there’s a strange person hanging out by your car in the parking lot when you get off work late? What if you fail that big test? What if the plane crashes? What if the doctor calls to discuss your test results? What if your credit card gets declined?
See? All what-if’s.
Now, I write fiction, so yes, my what-if’s are a little far-fetched, a little (okay, often times a lot) exaggerated and ridiculous. I thrive off the uncertain and unpredictable, but the opening question is still there, the basis for the horrific events I write down.
What if I never get another story idea? That scares the hell out of me.
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MICHAEL ROBERTSON JR.’s books have been downloaded over 80,000 times on Amazon.com. Rough Draft, a horror novel and newest release, has been in the Top 100 horror rankings. He lives in Virginia where he’s currently working on a new novel and trying to keep himself from thinking his next idea is a better one.