One last guest post we have to get in, but I wanted to include a piece by my friend and fellow NBP author Zillah Anderson!
Horror in the Everyday
So often we think of horror involving the foreign or the supernatural. Vampires, zombies, werewolves, ghosts, demons, giant animals, monsters…even the killers we encounter a lot of times in horror are pumped up and so brutal, genius, or unnatural that it’s easy to be scared but hard to relate. While it’s obvious to see why those plot elements are used, I feel that sometimes people neglect to think of the other things that might provide not only tension, but some real chills. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman and tend to lean to the emotional side, but I love playing with relationships and friction in my stories. It’s intriguing to me to think of how a bond between two people is supposed to be, and then wondering what would happen if that reasoning was reversed or something put a wrench in the process. Kids all know adults know best, right? Well what about when they don’t? There are real-world instances of horrifying, terrifying moments when that turns out not to be the case. For something a little less on the edge, you’re supposed to be able to trust that those above you in a work or social situation are taking care of their end of the bargain. But what if you’re really a pawn in some other game? What if you’ve been hired simply so they have someone to pin their own misdeeds on? What if in their spare time they want to try to discover their inner predator nature, and you’re the perfect target?
Sometimes, I think people try to hard in the horror genre. Scary things are everywhere you look, right under the surface. Maybe the point of horror is to explore less real-world situations so that there’s something of a safety blanket, but are those manufactured situations really scary? Natural disasters are scary. Knowing that you can do everything in your power and still have your whole life ripped out from under you, to the point that you might not be able to rebuild it…that’s petrifying. Real-world incidents are scary, wondering if no matter how well you live your life, an institution or government or whatever suddenly decides to change the rules. War, disease, death…these are the very foundations of being helpless, yet they get overlooked for the bogeymen that hang out at summer camps, in dreams, and under beds.
Even the little things, little objects, can induce irrational fear. Sure, it’s obvious why knives would be scary, but clowns – what’s scary about those? How about balloons? They freak a lot of people out. And there’s the ever-popular creepy doll, a personal favorite of mine. Even if these things don’t come to life, understanding why they freak people out intrigues me. There are millions of landmines around us every day that writers don’t make use of. Maybe that’s pushing the envelope too much…maybe we don’t want to think about all the real ways we’re teetering on the edge of our own paranoia at any given moment.
I don’t know if I’m more thoughtful, or if it’s because of my gender that I favor considering these things over the RAWR! stuff. The testosterone-laden elements of horror almost seem too easy at times. Everyone expects that. Everyone expects there to be a guy with a hook when your car breaks down. Everyone knows about priests combating demonic possession, about super stalkers targeting families and not resting until they wipe out everyone who’s ever offended them. But what about things like dating? Beyond the usual horrifying results of my dating life, as a woman, there’s a hell of a lot that could go wrong. You don’t know who’s at the other end of the message box or dinner table. You have to decide whether to trust a person to pick you up, that they won’t drive you off to the middle of nowhere, and even if they do keep it to a public place, you have to wonder at some point if they could try to spike your drink, or if you’re going home with them to some sort of dungeon where you’ll meet all the other ex-girlfriends that are hanging out in their freezers. There’s all sorts of possibilities that go from 1 to 10 on the oh hell no scale.
And then there’s parents and kids – what if you just don’t click? I don’t mean in a bad or abusive sort of way. It has to be a parental fear that your child might not take after you, or might become something that you don’t know how to deal with. Or as a kid, what if you just don’t know if you can trust your parent to not do something ridiculous? What if something happens that makes you carry a grudge for years, only to make you question yourself when you get the chance to turn the tables?
See? Horror happens every day of our lives. Men may be well-known for it, but it takes a woman to really consider all the freaky possibilities of what it means to get through life.
Kaylee has one night to re-connect with her ailing father, but they don’t have much to talk about. Inspired, she decides to read him a story that eerily mirrors their relationship. She wants to bury the hatchet so badly, but all she can remember are the pranks Zachary pulled and in an attempt to make parenthood interesting. But long ago Kaylee learned his Achilles heel, the one silly object that could undo him and change the balance in their relationship. Should she use it? Will she? Find out what happens when love and forgiveness become twisted by anger, retaliation, and disconnect.
Never one to run from uncomfortable and unusual subject matter, Zillah Anderson is an author of the speculative, the dark, and the sexy – and sometimes all three at once. She is the author of The Inheritance and the young adult titleKnocking Down Heaven’s Door with No Boundaries Press, the erotic shortPower Chord with Rebel Ink Press, and has also had her work included in the Wicked East Press Anthology Halloween Frights vol. III. She resides in the Midwest, loves all things crafty and nerdy, and writes while she bides her time for her true purpose: total world domination.