Guest Post by Robert Holt – On The Nature Of Horror

guestpost

Today we have a special feature. I’ve never done a guest blog post before, but Robert Holt kindly offered to share his views on the horror genre and give us a tantalizing glimpse at one of the new books he has coming out soon. As anyone who’s read my books can attest, I use elements of horror, but Mr. Holt is a genuine horror author.

Without further ado, let’s hear from the man himself.

Hello, I’m Robert Holt. Eric was kind enough to invite me to discuss horror. I am a horror author with several novels under my belt and dozens of short stories published in anthologies and on the web.

What does horror mean?

Horror is more than a genre. Horror, like romance, is a state of being. A good horror story, whether it be ghosts, zombies, are carnivorous sea slugs, will leave the recipient in a feeling of discomfort and unease. Horror has received negative publicity ever since it was founded. It has been called immature, disgusting, and void of art, but that is simply politics. Horror can be immature, as that is what it truly is, a maturing experience. Like baby lions pouncing upon each other to prepare for hunting, children tell stories of the hook handed maniac and the glassy eyed ghost to prepare for a life where threats lie around every corner, and identifying them is crucial to survival. Horror teaches us when to be afraid. This differs from terror. Terror is a driven fear that haunts every aspect of life. Some books can bring a state of terror, but more often than not, they will be non-fiction books such as Mein Kampf.

Disgusting? Sure horror can be disgusting. It doesn’t have to be. Just as a romance novel can depict graphic sexual imagery or a simple peck on the cheek, horror can have intestines hanging from the ceiling fan or a little girl afraid of her breakfast grapefruit. In fact, both are in examples of my work. In a scene in a yet to be published novel of mine, a werewolf disembowels his victim and tosses the entrails around in glee. In my published collection of children stories, a girl is haunted throughout her day by the ghost of her breakfast grapefruit. It sounds silly, but the story was probably the scariest in the book and one that my daughter won’t let me tell her before bedtime.

Now the void of art claim is one that really fires me up. The same people that will say that horror is void of art will joyfully watch Jurassic Park, Sixth Sense, or Silence of the Lambs and claim they are good science fiction, drama, or suspense thriller, but they are all horror movies. All three films set out to unnerve you, scare you, and drag you through the fear to the other side where you emerge a little apprehensive of the future. The horror is the driving force of these films. Just as romance is always James Bond’s driving force and nobody calls 007 movies romance, many films with horror in the driver’s seat are never called horror. In fact, most movies that find mainstream commercial success through horror are often called something other than horror to differentiate itself from the schlock horror that smothers the genre. Terminator and Alien were both sold as science fiction despite them being classic style monster movies with very little science fiction tropes in them. Horror is an art form, and perhaps the greatest of all arts. Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, Melville’s Confidence Man, and Austen’s Northanger Abbey should be viewed as testimonials to the craft and art of horror.

What is scary to me?

Everything. That is not to say that I’m a panophobic. I get around alright, better than most, I dare say, but I see the underlying threat in all things. It’s my job. A piece of paper may look harmless, but imagine having your eyelid pried open and receiving a paper cut across your cornea. Yep, these are the things that cross through my mind every day. Sometimes I even fear the weak nucleic force within the atoms of my own body. If one atom were to spring a leak, I and everyone within a thirty mile radius of me would be vaporized in a wave of radiation. Don’t think about it too much or rationality will kill the horror.

What do you think is the state of the horror genre right now?

The genre is suffering from the bad press it gets, but with King still near the top selling authors, The Walking Dead still holding onto fans, and new generations being lured to the genre with great horror for the youth like Harry Potter and Serafina, I feel secure that what I do will keep finding an audience.

What trends do you see coming down the pipe and what’s completely played out?

I think we are is for a revival of bizarro style horror in a big way. Whenever the conservative party is in control, things get weird. We will see a revival of the unexplainable horrors that I grew up loving, like Hellraiser and Phantasm. These were stories that you tried to wrap your head around but couldn’t, and that made them all that much scarier. I think it will come back in a big way.

As for what is played out, I think vampires and zombies are about tapped, with that said, I have two books coming down the pipe and one is a vampire book and the other is a zombie book. And that’s the thing. I thought I would never write a book about either of those, but when a good story came into my head, I had to run with it. My zombie book should be out very soon, and the fun part is that there are no zombies in the story. The book is about Americans and how we would react in a scenario where Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia have all fallen to the zombie apocalypse. There are no zombies in America. Let me repeat that since it is the title of the book: There Are No Zombies in America. T.A.N.Z.I.A. Thank you for indulging in that self-promotion. But yeah, I think nothing has been fully explored and the worlds created by the monsters that have been played out can still offer fun avenues to explore.

Thank you for allowing me into your day to discuss my craft.
Robert Holt
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7 thoughts on “Guest Post by Robert Holt – On The Nature Of Horror

  1. Fascinating perspective.. two of my books are ‘horror’ in the wide sense but of course they were never written to be just that. I wrote the original Darkly Wood as a love story but horror is perhaps the easiest way to catalogue them for the purpose of marketing. Great post, thanks for sharing

    1. He makes an excellent point about horror being a driving force in a lot of mainstream stories. From a writing point of view, scaring the bejeezus out of characters or having truly horrific things happening in the background, is an excellent mechanism for spurring the action.

  2. I’m a big baby when it comes to horror. Just can’t stomach it, but I think that says a lot about how much skill it takes to write horror. Being able to make a reader jump or gasp in fright or even throw her book across the room in terror without any visual special effects or jump scare noises is no easy task so I never understood the idea that horror writers are somehow lesser writers. If anything, I think authors of other genres, including myself, could probably stand to improve their own craft by studying more of the horror genre.

    This was a great read, thanks for this!

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to pull off a straight-up horror story. I’ve come close a couple times, but things like making a reader truly scared still seems to elude me. I do like using elements of horror because they make for excellent tension-builders, but it’s really not my genre.

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