Articles, Blog

The Monsters You Never Recognise

Dark Monsters - Frenchy25 via Flickr

Picture yourself in a dark alley. There, in the shadows, the glint of bloody jaws. Something moves, its disfigured limbs crawling too fast to be natural. What is that?  You freeze, back up. Then, nothing. Did you imagine it? You listen, you watch, until you see something in the corner of your eye and—!

What makes monster stories so appealing? And why are we so inapt to recognise those very monsters in real life?  

Articles, Blog

Reading: Experience By Proxy

reading experience by proxy

From the instant a toddler recognizes its first letter, we bombard the poor child – and its parents – with the importance of reading. Yet for every child that takes to reading readily and early, there is one that can’t sit still during a bedtime story and rather plays with toys instead of staring at squiggly symbols in a row.

Once these kids grow an appetite to venture into the world of comics, they are told to put down that ‘trash’ and read ‘proper books’. To drive that point home, their school system will force them for years to read classic literature far beyond their interest and comprehension.

Which is a terrible shame. Not on those youngsters, but for them. Because if their repulsion of reading persists, they miss out on far more than a handful of books.

Articles, Blog, Chris's writing desk

Where Has The Horror Gone?

In the age of mass media, horror enthusiasts needn’t go to a bookstore or cinema to get their fix. And for once, it’s not the Internet that is to blame.

horror

A Dying Fire

Every day and every night, the syndicate news channels spew one horror story after another. There is enough drama to satisfy our every craving for fear and terror. And should the world fail to be on fire, the news writers add drama to whatever is happening with a few choice words: calling a collision a “car accident” doesn’t turn any heads, but “disaster” still gets a response.

It’s no secret that we are desensitising at an alarming rate. Hundreds get killed in a natural cataclysm, yet we shrug and check our Facebook status. News outlets desperately try to fan the flames of this dying fire by using ever more superlatives, but fact remains that the number of people who give f*** all about anything is dwindling faster than ever before.

You can only fan a flame so many times before it starves.

Horrific Methods

Unfortunately, the horror side of the entertainment industry feeds off that same dying fire. The audience isn’t scared – or even mildly uneasy – unless they care. Unless they empathise with at least one of the characters and their situation. The artists’ job is to make them care. Feed the fire, as it were.

But that has become an uphill battle in all media.

Articles, Blog

The Pain Game

Not quite the blogpost I had planned for today, but clear thinking is impossible when you’re repeatedly curled up in foetal position for days on end. However, that little setback did put me in the perfect position to study the mind’s response to pain. Especially excruciating pain…

pain game - excruciating pain and how it affects the mind
Photo: Vincent Bozzo

A bout of enteritis brougth on some terrible and very painful cramps. They were only cramps, I kept telling myself. But even “only cramps” proved sufficient to hotwire my brain.

In short, my body threw a Happy Potter-style Cruciatus Curse on itself. This is what it did.

Articles, Blog

Hacking Your Fear of Failure

fear of failure - hands - AK Rockefeller

Fear is the essence of horror. So as a writer of horror fiction, naturally I’m an expert fear manager, right?

On paper, yes. In reality, I’m always more or less terrified of one thing in particular. And so are you, whether you realise it or not.

The Commonest Fear

Extreme fear is high profile. The list of phobias is endless. But the most common everyday fear is as insidious as is it crippling. Everyone suffers from it. “Not me!” you say? Think again. Think of…

…failure. Nobody wants to be a failure. No one wants people laughing at them. You may not call it fear, but your shoulders tense. You feel queasy and your palms become sweaty. All at the mere thought of failing to…