What is Horror Fiction?
March 9, 2015
An interesting 2009 article from the Horror Writer’s Association:
That’s a difficult question. In recent years the very term has become misleading. If you tell people you write horror fiction, the image that immediately pops into their minds is one of Freddy Krueger or maybe Michael Myers, while you were hoping for Shelley’s Frankenstein or Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The popularity of the modern horror film, with its endless scenes of blood and gore, has eclipsed the reality of horror fiction. When you add to that a comprehension of how horror evolved as both a marketing category and a publishing niche during the late eighties — horror’s boom time — it’s easy to understand why answering the question of what today’s horror fiction actually is has become so difficult.
But let’s give it a try, shall we?
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary gives the primary definition of horror as “a painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay.” It stands to reason then that “horror fiction” is fiction that elicits those emotions in the reader.
It’s a funny fact of today’s market that those writers whose works define the quintessential essence of horror are not considered horror writers. Millions of people read Stephen King, but the average King reader doesn’t read other horror writers. Dean Koontz’s books are filled with the strange and fantastic, yet he vehemently argues against being labeled a horror writer, despite being the first president of this very organization. John Saul thinks of himself as a writer of thrillers; Clive Barker a master of the fantastic. HWA founder Robert McCammon stopped publishing altogether to avoid being trapped in a box not of his own choosing when the publishing world demanded more horror instead of the historical novel he had so desperately wanted to produce.
Read the full article @ Horror.org.