Thursday, October 27, 2016


by Chuck Wendig

I write horror novels, mostly.

I just don’t call them horror. They’re urban fantasy. They’re supernatural suspense. They’re near-future sci-fi thrillers. But definitely, totally, super-not-horror. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, a finger thrust up before my rubbery latex clown mask where I shush you long, low and slow, shhhhhhhhhh. Don’t worry! Not horror at all.

*squeaks clown nose to comfort you, honk-honk*

Except, psst: they’re totally horror. I don’t even necessarily mean they’re horror as a genre. Horror as a genre is a bullseye on the back of a galloping horse — sure, there are certain tropes and conventions that mark something as horror, but these usually mark it more as a subgenre of horror rather than an overarching convention. Horror, to me, is as much a mood as it is a convergence of tropes or ideas. That mood goes beyond merely invoking fright. It’s about traipsing into the dark, about shining a flickering flashlight beam on some nastiness, and probing fear and discomfort up and down the spectrum. From big stuff (surveillance state, religion, apocalypse) to little stuff (hey guess what there’s a guy in your closet covered in someone else’s skin and he has a camping hatchet covered in blood and hair). I love it. I grew up reading it. I write it. Zer0es is a wet-wired hacker thriller where the surveillance state is so intrusive it might literally be drilled into the back of your skull. Invasive is a fun thrillery Jurassic Park romp ha ha ha oh and did I mention it contains ants who will cut off your skin with their mandibles in order to farm your flesh snippets for delicious fungus? Miriam Black can literally see how you’re going to die, and people get eaten by flocks of birds and there are folks with no eyes and a guy gets chopped up in a garbage disposal. Doesn’t matter that nobody wants to call them horror — the Miriam Black books are horror novels from snoot-to-chute. Exuent will be apocalyptic in its scope, and though I’m sure it’ll be labeled a thriller, it is intentionally meant to be scary, creepy, unsettling in the same way you find The Stand or Swan Song. In other words: It’s horror.

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