By Alyanna Poe
Watching Scare Tactics as a kid always terrified me, but even with my parents’ warning, I kept watching. The television series Goosebumps would give me nightmares, but I always found myself glued to the screen when it came on. As a child, I was drawn to the more magical and scary books, like Inside a House That is Haunted and later on series like The Magic Treehouse and The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod. There was something about the stories that drew me to them. When I was thirteen, I discovered Stephen King’s The Stand. I fell in love with the horror genre and never looked back.
Having lived in a haunted house from ages two to twelve, I learned a thing or two about the spiritual world that not many kids knew about. At ten I was smudging my house and performing spells to protect my home along with my mother. I had an altar where I would perform my spells, and I learned the ways of a budding witch. I knew how karma worked, and that the rule of three should be taken into consideration when acting on our feelings. Looking back on my childhood, I think many things shoved me into the world of horror, but I believe one thing really got me into the realm of terror which I now reside in.
The emotion behind terror is exhilarating. That feeling of being scared is horrible in the moment, but afterwards you can generally have a good laugh. I mean this in the “my friends pranked me” or “I watched a horror movie” scared. I like watching horror movies and watching my friends scream at a scene that evokes no emotion in me. I love popping out from behind a corner making my friends scream, while they do the same in return and I stay stone-faced. Certain people just don’t show emotion or fear, and that in and of itself is pretty terrifying to normies. I have been exposed to a lot, so the logical side of my brain makes connections that keep me from being scared of movies and pranks. Real life scared, like car accidents and the like, are much deeper and more personal. Everyone experiences and deals with those more personal feelings differently. I choose to exploit my own.
Having social anxiety, I know what fear feels like. I was on a medication for Grave’s Disease (great name, awful disease) that causes anxiety while I was learning to drive. Now I have this primal fear of driving that I have to push past. Pushing past our fears is an amazing feeling. I get home from a long drive and I think, “Wow, I did this.” I am filled with adrenaline and ready for more at that point. I imagine it’s the feeling of surviving a skydive. Adrenaline junkies seek out thrilling activities, such as horror junkies.
We want a thrill. We want that rush of emotion that keeps us coming back for more gore and more terror. Somehow, each and every one of us has been affected somehow and we crave horror. Whether it was the haunted house you grew up in or watching scary movies as a kid, you’re part of a horror family.
I have nightmares that are so real it’s like a memory when I wake up. I wake up crying or even in the same position as the dream ended (curled and protecting my head). I may not be affected while watching a horror movie, but what goes on inside my head terrifies me. I use these emotions in my writing. Wording and setting up a scene correctly are so important in all genres but especially of horror. I hear about other people having nightmares about spiders and snakes and I think, “Wow, you’re lucky.” My nightmares are full of kidnappings and warped memories of past traumas. I write these down and keep them in a journal for later reference. When I reread them, I feel the emotion I felt while having the dream. These emotions are very important. Just as a romance or erotica author may feel lust or blush while writing, I feel fear while writing certain scenes. Good authors learn to cut themselves open and bleed on the pages they write. If you feel no emotion in your writing, what are you writing for?
Many people don’t like gore and horror. They say it’s too nasty or gives them nightmares, but it’s my favorite thing to write. In EATEN, my first published novel, I pushed myself to think of the most creative ways to inflict death upon my characters. I created the worst kind of zombies I could think of. And you know why? Because it terrifies people.
When you read, you’re not after words, you’re after emotion. I want my readers to feel emotion, whether it be happiness, sorrow, or fear, there is emotion behind my words.
In the sequel to EATEN, which I’m currently in the editing stages of, I went for a more psychological horror route, exploring the mind and the range of emotions we feel. In my early days of reading horror, certain things terrified me and stuck with me. If I can horrify a reader and spark something within them with my words, then my job here is done. I think my best choice in life was to become a horror author. Right now I may only have a few fans, but the horror community is exactly that, a community, and there’s no place I’d rather share my creativity then with those that love a good fright.