Monday, 13 October 2014

Horror and Other Scary Stuff by Ann Evans

Wander around any supermarket at the moment and you'll be bumping into witch, ghost, skeleton and pumpkin costumes as Halloween approaches. And they seem to get better every year. Couldn't help but smile at a skeleton outfit I saw the other day that had a moving jaw and talked.

Now that my kids are all grown up, Halloween isn't something I usually bother with, although this time last year, Rob who I work with at his Tysall's Photography Studio, was asked if he could take some family shots at the customer's house. No problem... until we got there, and the guy met us at the door, all dressed up as Dracula, and soon informed us that actually he was a real vampire. We hoped he was joking!
After the photo-shoot we came away giggling like a couple of kids, and still looking over our shoulders as we headed to the car. Still, it provided a nice little scenario for a horror story should one be needed.

Although I love writing stories that send shivers up the readers' spines, I'm not so good at reading them myself, and couldn't finish reading a favourite author's novel – Barbara Erskine's House of Echos because it was too frightening! And can't bring myself to watch horror on TV at any price – not even with a big cushion to hide behind.

Oddly enough however, my latest book has a vampire theme. It's The Uninvited, published by Astraea Press as an ebook. And about a month ago Celeste – a time slip thriller came out as an ebook and paperback – and that has a particularly unpleasant ghost in it. And a short while before that came Nightmare – a horror story for Badger Learning!
Heck! I feel a bit hypocritical now.

I wonder who else writes on a theme that scares them to death?
Well for the sake of writing an almost topical blog, I've picked out a few terrifying books that sadly I don't think I'll ever be brave enough to read or watch. How many of them are your cup of tea?

The Silence of the Lambs seems to be on TV from time to time, and I race through the programme listings in case I accidentally hit play and I have to see any of it.
I know - I'm such a wimp.

It's the same with Stephen King's IT. That clown is just the most terrifying character. Can't watch the film, and can't read the book - yet I love many of       Stephen King's books.


Nooo! Can't watch this, although I've interviewed and been to lunch with the man behind the leather mask, Gunnar Hansen, and he's really nice. He's also an author of non fiction books. One being Islands At The Edge of Time.

I'm reliably informed that people will recognise this image from the horror films Saw.  But not for all the tea in China would you get me watching it. 

So, am I on my own in being a wimp in not being able to cope with books and films which are too terrifying, even though I write thrillers and horror stories? Perhaps its the fact that if you haven't written it yourself you haven't got the control over what happens.

Happy spooky Halloween to everyone when it comes.

Please visit my website:

New books: Nightmare (Badger Learning) a Teen Read III book.

A sinister vampire theme to this YA book.

A time slip thriller set in Coventry.


madwippitt said...

Horror .... Definitely not for the squeamish, or at least not these days. I can - and have - faced treating quite grueseome horse and dog injuries, but all that yukky stuff dreamed up by special effects in films is just too gross out for my delicate sensibilities. Books too: is there really any need for graphic detail of what innards do when they stop being innards and start being outtards?
Ghost stories, now, that's different kettle of fish: more subtle and doesn't rely on the squirm factor. Although old-days black and white horror films were OK - maybe because black and white photography didn't lend itself to technicolour gore-fests. I remember being terrified by Boris Karloff's Mummy ... Same applies to stories: I reckon it can be too easy for writers to rely on the ick factor instead of building up atmosphere and chill ...

Nick Green said...

I think your imagination may have turned The Silence Of The Lambs into something it's not. (I'm assuming you've never actually watched it?). I'm not sure it qualifies as a 'scary movie' in the way that the others are... Some of it's a bit icky, but ultimately it's just a cop thriller about catching a serial killer. Lynda La Plante's Trial and Retribution dramas (the best ones) have been WAY scarier than Lambs.

Hopkins is good and creepy of course... but you end up rather liking him. His escape sequence is a piece of evil genius.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Or as they call it in Liverpool, Shurrup Ewes. Sorry, sorry, Monday morning, Liverpudlian husband.
Not mad about horror when it relies almost wholly on FX rather than a sort of creeping sense of evil. I suppose M R James's stories are more horror than ghost, but they are very good indeed.

Nick Green said...

True horror comes from within, and the best writers are those who can tease it out of you. Writers who can trick you into thinking something so unsettling that it never quite crawls back into its hole. The crucial thing is, YOU think it - the writer doesn't spell it out. The unsaid always has far more power than feeble words. Maybe the scariest horror story of all is NOTHING BUT BLANK PAGES.

Reb MacRath said...

Funny. I got my start in horror--but after a couple of conventions, where I got to see too many practioners dressed in black dusters like rock stars and drunk or stoned, I realized that none of them seemed to take horror itself seriously. It was cool, it was fun, it was 'easy'. I moved on. We'd do well, I think, to be less cool and playful when we sing for our suppers about horror.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

O Whistle and I'll Come To You is one of the best. For that very reason, Nick: the unsaid. Never quite got over the disturbed bedclothes in the OTHER bed and - living in a very old house as we do - the wind! The 'who is this that is coming' inscription is an additional twist of the knife.

JO said...

I don't do horror films or too much violence in books. But having worked in Child Protection for 30 years I've seen the worst that people can do to each other and cannot get my head around seeing it as any form of entertainment.

Lydia Bennet said...

I recommend Silence of the Lambs as an excellent crime thriller and the film is also excellent. I agree with many of your points, and feel that CGI has been the death of many a scary ghost film - attempts to show the ghosts are just pathetic as they scream cgi. as in books, it's the suggestion, the subtleties of moving curtains, sounds, a shadow passing the door...
I find the old Hammer Horrors either funny or heartbreakingly sad (King kong, Frankenstein, can't watch either without blubbing most of the way through for the poor monsters). i've enjoyed violent movies for quite some time but to my own surprise am becoming a bit more squeamish - I can't abide torture porn and never could, but violent action where people can dish it out as well as take it, I've enjoyed - Tarantino, etc.

Ann Evans said...

Thank you all for your comments. I think I'd better read Silence of the Lambs,Nick and Lydia, could be missing out on a good read! I've always been put off by all the screaming in the film.