Welcome to Fall Into Horror with Mocha Memoirs Press!
Mocha Memoirs Press is celebrating the new Fall season by showcasing their love of horror and the authors who write it. Please welcome SELAH JANEL as she shares her thoughts on fall and horror.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a strange, deep love of the unusual and the frightening. I loved decorating for Halloween because it meant digging out the witches and mummies for the windows, unboxing all the ceramic haunted houses and hanging bats and other nick nacks that take over a house that time of year. I invented a long-running series of adventures for all of these weird characters, and every October before I was ten or eleven was a constant soap opera every time I looked at our sideboards or mantle.
I was also an outrageous scaredy-cat and was unable to look at even the commercials for horror films on television without having a panic attack and having to hide my eyes and plug my ears. Plus, it was the 1980s, so every sitcom had a freaky deaky Halloween episode and you were told at school every day of all the four thousand ways you could be abducted, kidnapped, poisoned, drugged, beat up, or razor-bladed by candy. Then there was that time I was nearly locked in an ancient burial site during a family vacation, but that’s another post, entirely.
That part of me was a strange dichotomy my parents could never quite figure out. Things terrified me, but I kept sneaking off to be near them. They’d find me reading the box backs of movies I’d never be allowed to watch, I may have run an underground library for RL Stine and urban legend titles out of my locker in middle school even though the stories freaked me out something fierce for a while. One parent readily sheltered me because they knew they’d just have to deal with the nightmares later, and the other told me family stories passed down from German relatives, and believe me, no one does a scary story like older Germans.
In my adult years it was working in haunted houses and then designing for them that fully plummeted me into a love of horror films, because I realized I had options and tons of subgenres to explore. I’d slowly wandered into literary horror in college through Anne Rice and Ray Bradbury, slowly wading towards the likes of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Shirley Jackson, and Nancy Collins.
I’m the type of person that’s always going to be contemplating the what if’s – both the wonderful and the terrifying. There’s a possibility in the horror genre that entices me…that bit about waiting for the other shoe to drop and finding out what kind of shoe it is, even if I probably don’t want to really know. That tension is electric, and there’s some outrageously high drama in ghost stories and urban legends that we don’t get anywhere else. It reveals things about us as people, and the fact that these archetypes are constantly being reinvented and recycled says something about the genre, proves that it isn’t just schlock, but something that hits us at a primal level.
I love Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree and try to read it every fall. It feels like autumn in a book to me. It’s a near-flawless history of Halloween (some of the history is admittedly a little off), but emotionally it’s perfect. There’s an underlying current of why people love Halloween, but it could also be used to express why people are attracted to the horror genre. Way back when, we had to fear predators coming to get us, we weren’t guaranteed that we’d see another day, we felt at the mercy of the cosmos because we weren’t sure that the sun would rise again. It’s that thin line between today and tomorrow, safety and danger, life and death, that makes the horror genre what it is, and is probably why I could be freaked out and drawn in by it as a kid.
As a writer, I love playing with that line, whether it’s real-world anchored horror or otherworldly creatures, or a mixture of the two. Part of the reason I’m so drawn to Lovecraft-type themes and vampires is I like the thought of shaking up how we perceive the universe and the people in it. The fact that my characters are going about their lives and then some little thing happens that changes everything in a sentence or two is an incredibly powerful concept to me. I personally love characters that you wouldn’t expect to show up in stories like that: maybe they’re in historical settings, maybe they’re frustrated teens, who knows? At the end of the day, everyone is affected by those same what if’s, so it’s interesting to see how various people would react.
In some ways maybe that helps me fight for the control I didn’t feel as a kid when I watched trailers for Nightmare on Elm Street or The Blob on TV. Maybe it’s a way of immersing myself into the October magic that doesn’t quite feel the same now that I’m not a kid. Either way, I love the genre, and I’m proud to be part of the tradition.
Plus, it just gives the relatives one more thing to be confused about.
Selah Janel is the author of three e-book titles for Mocha Memoir Press, as well as other stuff. You can read about her pioneer vampires in Mooner and her world-ending invisible friends in The Grotesquerie. Follow her ramblings on her blog or answer the question of the day on her page on Facebook!
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ABOUT MOCHA MEMOIRS PRESS:
Mocha Memoirs Press, LLC is a genre-oriented publishing company. Their vision is to provide an outlet for outstanding speculative and romance stories that often fall beneath the radar of traditional publishing houses. They seek to provide quality stories that invigorate the reader’s literary palette like a good, strong coffee. Like great coffee houses, they offer a variety of flavors. They publish stories in the following genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, and romance, including the sub-genres of steampunk, cyberpunk, diesel punk, alternate history, weird westerns, and mash-ups.