87 days to go before release. Reviews are popping up here and there, and my naturally sociophobic (not –pathic. Definitely not. Too lazy.) nature is being strongly challenged by the need for PR events.
Saying that, at my first ever such, an evening to celebrate Horror authors at Tor UK, I did stay until the death and drink, um, thoroughly. There were people more drunk than me, but I’m doubtful as to how much solace you can ever take from that.I'll have to make sure I don’t talk while photos get taken if I can help it, and improve those expressions I somehow contrive to pull. Blue Steel is not a good look.
To my surprise, I even found myself enjoying chatting to the good folk there, but I’m finding everyone else knows a hell of a lot about books. Eight years of day-job, young family, and that writing-a-novel stuff left me with very little spare time and groaning shelves laden with still-unread novels.
I’ll catch up. A little.There’s another event this coming Thursday, Fantasy in the Court. Lots more authors, but mainly outdoors. Brrr. I’ll dress warm, and avoid pouting while cameras are aimed at me.
Anyway, to round off, here's the little bit on horror the people at Tor UK asked me to do for that Horror evening.
One thing people underestimate about horror is its breadth. From the deep unease of M. R. James to the Grand Guignol of Clive Barker, horror can be brutal or genteel, Satanic or technological; anywhere from a whisper to a scream. All tastes are catered for. You don’t think you like horror? You just haven’t found the right mix.
Horror is at the heart of being human. When people gathered around a fire forty thousand years ago, I can guarantee their storytellers didn’t explore the fine points of language, or the angst of middle age. They spoke of the creatures that came from the dark; they spoke of pain and fear. But here’s something else I guarantee: they did it with humour, with thrills, with shocks. With a pinch of romance and a dash of the supernatural.
Even now, our existence is only a wrong-turn away from genuine horrors that, fascinated as we are, we can’t bear to discuss. Horror is our way of peering close at the rotting corpse we’ll all become, and then closing the book, finding ourselves a little more grateful than before.
In the end, though, the appeal of good horror is a simple one: it guarantees an eventful read. And at its best, it provides moments that will forever lurk in your thoughts. The strange thing is how much fun it can be to write horror. A dark kind of fun: a sense of mischief and a hope that, just maybe, you can capture such a moment.
A moment that seizes your heart and makes you know – just for a time – that something is very, very wrong.