The Importance of Horror by Joy Yehle

When I was a little kid, my Grandma used to call me “Spooky” because I loved to hear the same ghost stories over and over. Not much has changed, I still love spooky tales. It’s fun to be scared, to feel the tingle that only an excellent story can give and the feelings of satisfaction and relief when it’s over. However, I believe that the horror genre gives us so much more than a thrill.

The beautiful thing about horror is that it provides an opportunity to examine what scares us. To get a good long look at the thing that you can usually only see in your peripheral vision, the thing that lives in the closet, the thing that comes solely in nightmares. You get to look it in the eye (or eyes) if only for a moment and stare it down through the screen or pages in a book. When the film is over, or the book closed you can say you survived this encounter with the thing, a little braver for the next time you have to face it.

Perhaps, if I’ve done my job as a horror writer, you might see your non-supernatural fears in this same light. My characters may have your same issue, or you are able to see the symbolism of the thing to represent your particular brand of fear. Unemployment. Depression. Abandonment. Discrimination. Loss. Cancer. Death. Choose your poison, and I will gladly pour a healthy serving. I don’t want to just scare you, as fun as that is, I want you to consider your fear and inspire you to begin to develop an antidote.

Besides freaking you out and providing you an opportunity to face your fears, my biggest goal as a horror writer is to open your mind. I want all of my readers to consider that maybe the world is more than what we see with our eyes and feel with our hands. Those glowing eyes under the bed might have a logical explanation, but “what if” they don’t? Perhaps everything is explainable in the light of quantum physics and string theory, and time slips, but “what if” it’s not? Bigger yet, “what if” it is? How do all the “what if’s” affect the way you live in the here and now? Or “what if” in the hereafter?

That’s how I create these stories, constantly asking “what if” and pairing it with the thing. Sometimes my characters prevail, but many times they pee their pants and cry in the corner, just like us. The important thing is to keep asking “what if” and facing the thing as best we can, and I hope my horror stories inspire you to do just that.

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