By Lisa McCourt Hollar
This was originally printed by Rebecca Treadway on her blog, RL. Treadways inc.
When people ask me what I do for a living and I answer that I am an author, this generally perks their interest… until they ask what I write. When I respond horror, I usually get a variety of looks. I have been told I don’t look like a horror writer and I wonder what a horror author is supposed to look like. I imagine they expect someone that looks like Charles Manson, or whatever the female version of Manson would be. They aren’t expecting a middle aged, frumpy looking housewife. But read the news… housewives are insane and there is a certain psychosis that goes with horror writing, especially if you have kids.
Screams of “Mom, make him stop,” or “I need you to do this,” echo around me when I write, followed by the occasional crash and hurried drives to the emergency room. Okay, maybe I exaggerate… MAYBE… but trying to write when you are potty training a toddler, cooking, cleaning… when I get to it and dealing with a clueless husband is not always easy. It also gives me some insight into the psychosis of a horror writer.
I think some people, not all, but some think that horror writers are crazy. I write about cannibals, zombies and vampires… not all in one story, but that might actually be fun. I also have a very bent sense of humor that at times has insulted people. I wrote a story once about a woman that found out her father-in-law was dying of pancreatic cancer. It started off as you would expect, shock… how did this happen. The trying to come to terms with what you have just been told and then laughter. She… and her husband were whooping it up. “It’s about time; I thought he would never die!” I got a hate review. According to the reader, I was immoral and should never write this kind of junk again. Cancer is a horrible thing and you should never wish it on anyone.
Apparently that includes made up people. The thing is I live in the real world and I have been surrounded the last several years by cancer that has affected my family. I know how devastating cancer can be. My grandfather died of pancreatic cancer… before I ever wrote said story. I loved him and I never would wish something so horrible on anyone, but the world is an insane place to live. Bad things happen and for me, writing about it, even mocking the horror that surrounds me, is therapeutic. I don’t need a counselor, I just need a pen and paper and a lot of sleepless nights.
You read in the paper all the time about murders, rape, and child molestation…neighbors shooting each other over things like the color that they painted their house. That’s crazy. My kids start arguing with each other, my husband says something that makes me mad, (happens quite often when he’s out of smokes,) my neighbor wakes me up in the middle of the night fighting with his wife, I feel a little crazy too, maybe even feel like murdering someone. Most often that’s what I do, I kill, violently, sometimes it is a blood bath, but always on paper. The world is my inspiration. People do things to each other that are way scarier than what you read in fiction.
My daughter once asked me why I kill off kids in my stories, (not all of them, but I have noticed that there is a fair amount of infacide in some of them,) and I said, “Because I can’t kill them in real life.” Are horror writers psychotic? Probably… just a little bit. Bit compared to the rest of the world we may be the sanest people out there.