The Underground Author Series
The Horror Author: Part 2
conducted by Dustin LaValley

What draws us to the heart-pounding, adrenaline rush of all horrors? That which scares us ever increasingly fascinates human kind, be it a movie, story, or electronic medium. We are drawn to that breath-snatching shock like a mosquito is drawn towards the light of the death-zap. Except unlike the insect, we can come back for more. And we do, over and over again. It's there, the scare, but we continue to walk through the haunted maze voluntarily. Are we simply immune to the function of the amygdala in out limbic systems? No, probably not. We just like to be scared.

I have collected three basic answers from the creators of horror in the written form. These authors discuss with us how they were introduced to horror, how it has affected them, and where they believe it will bring them.

  • How were you introduced to the world of horror?
  • How has the horror field affected your life?
  • Where do you see the horror field in your life in the years to come?

Kevin Donihe

Kevin Donihe's novel, Shall We Gather at the Garden?, was released in 2001 by Eraserhead Press. Another, co-written with Carlton Mellick III, will be released soon. Venues for his fiction and poetry include The Mammoth Book of Legal Thrillers, Flesh and Blood, Chiaroscuro, The Café Irreal, Poe’s Progeny, Sick: An Anthology of Illness, and others. He also edits Bare Bone for Raw Dog Screaming Press.

1) I'm not sure. I may have introduced myself, if that's at all possible. One of my earliest 'stories' concerned itself with blood-drinking skeletons in a churchyard. It was written, I believe, when I was six. I also remember Ray Milland tearing out his eyes on TV in The Man with the X-Ray Eyes. I might have been four then. That surely had some effect . . .

2) Most of my short stories are horror-based, though I've yet to write a horror based novel that's publishable. (The last time I wrote a horror-based novel was over ten years ago.) Most of my teenage years were spent writing little horror stories, some okay, some not-so-okay. Spending countless hours writing about zombies and whatnot instead of going to the mall surely had some effect, too . . .

3) I'd love to do a horror novel in the coming years. I already have an idea -- an idea that I like – though I must, first and foremost, take care of Eraserhead Press-based obligations. Still, I can't see myself abandoning horror, even if I tried.

Brutal Dreamer

Brutal Dreamer has been published over 120 times in both electronic and print. You can visit her official website at http://www.brutaldreamer.org

1) In my family HORROR was not allowed. I came from a very religious family and this topic was taboo. That is not to say that I was never introduced to horror, however. In Junior High my literature instructor introduced me to the horror of gouged out eyeballs and cementing people in the walls author, Edgar Allan Poe. After this creepy encounter with the dark side... I realized what I’ve been missing out on.

I went to the library and lollygagged around the “horror” section when something captured my attention. I picked up a book; something that would not take TOO long to read (because "horror" was not welcome in our home) and I didn’t have a huge amount of free time at school to read for fun. I met a fascinating scare queen, Carrie. Through her, I learned about powers that my mind had never known was even possible (rather it be fiction or non-fiction). That day I was introduced to my favorite author: Stephen King. Since my first encounter with the horror kings: Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King they've remained my soul-mates in horror ever sense.

2) As a child I was always a dreamer, a storyteller... and growing up didn’t change that -I just broadened my devotion of dreams into another genre, nightmares called: HORROR. My childhood, gave me the ammo to write horror. Instead of being content reading it or watching it --I wanted to be part of the action, I needed to create horrors. I was woven with in the genre and jovially riddled with this new passion; it became part of who I am and a large part of my lifestyle. There are always drawbacks, I suppose.... since I chose this lifestyle of being a horror writer and have horror as part of my life- I have been disowned by my parents and portions of my extended family. I make no apologies for my choices and my lifestyle --I love HORROR at all costs! It's been my secret love affair since I would sneak around to indulge myself in new horrors.

Hopefully, it will continue to make positive strides of becoming a more professional field that people will take as serious as the geeks (I speak for myself when I say that) take Science Fiction and Fantasy and even those hopeless romantics that live for the pink fluffy bunny schmuck called Romance. Horror is slowly becoming a household pass time and theaters are welcoming a wide variety (what once was taboo) of the genre to the silver screen. I believe horror will be as easily accepted as the other genres and people won’t fear it more than they are suppose to. But only a few years ago, people shuddered and covered their ears when they heard that I am a horror writer (and not in a good way). … slowly they’ve come around and become much more susceptible to the sphere it encompasses and I don’t feel like the freak in the neighborhood. As years continue to pass and we keep placing the undead in the world of the fearful --horror will be unleashed and no one will be able to contain it, nor stop it. HORROR is a totally different type of animal and it’s one that evolves and doesn’t tend to slow down... but envelops its victims of fear while they secretly tend to beg for more once they have tasted it. We have some new age horror author’s out there and these creators of horror will awaken a dark side that we have yet to behold. I'm hoping to be one of those that help awaken this world.

John Edward Lawson

John Edward Lawson is an author, editor, and publisher living just outside Washington, DC. He was born in 1974 and enjoys traveling. His poetry collections include The Horrible (2005) and The Scars Are Complimentary (2002); fiction includes the novel Last Burn in Hell (2005) and seven chapbooks. While serving as editor-in-chief of Raw Dog Screaming Press and The Dream People webzine, John has also been editor of the anthologies Tempting Disaster, Sick, and Of Flesh and Hunger. Spy on him at http://www.johnlawson.org.

1) Both of my parents sought escape in film, television, and literature. My mother always leaned toward the darker material, and they never had any scruples about taking me to what other parents would consider "inappropriate" films. I hid behind the seat at Jaws, I made my mother take me home early from American Werewolf in London, and I had nightmares for a year after The Howling. The truth of the matter is, though, that no matter how scared I was the grim circumstances in my own childhood kept me interested in the darker side of entertainment. It's what I identified with.

2) The dark side of art, in all its manifestations, has always provided a rock for me to lean on. "Yes," it tells me. "Things can really be this fucked up and miserable for people. It's not just you." It also passed along the subliminal message, "You can turn all those dark thoughts and memories into something positive!" So, that's the path I chose: one of committing to paper the observations that others are afraid to admit.

3) It's seems first we experience/comprehend physical horror, then emotional horror. Recently I've become able to organize the experience of intellectual horror into something I can vocalize. Which is great, because you can work that into just about any type of writing. Personally, I don't see any end to it, because horror is a sheer symptom of life itself--the atrocities we witness, the fear of loss, the suffering of a loved one, the soul-deadening job we barely confront on a daily basis. There is horror in everything, if we're looking properly, and I hope to expand my vision exponentially. And, with the current political/economic climate, we'll be seeing all permutations of horror gaining popularity in the commercial marketplace.

Mark McLaughlin

Mark McLaughlin's fiction, nonfiction and poetry have appeared in more than 600 publications, including Horror Garage, Black October, Black Gate, Gothic.Net, Galaxy, The Book Of Final Flesh, and two volumes each of The Best Of The Rest, The Best Of HorrorFind, and The Year's Best Horror Stories. Collections of his fiction include Once Upon A Slime, Hell Is Where The Heart Is, and Motivational Shrieker. Also, he is the co-author, with Rain Graves and David Niall Wilson, of the poetry collection The Gossamer Eye, which won a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry. Visit Mark on the web at http://www.geocities.com/mcmonstrous.

1) When I was little, I spent most of my free time at the library in the anthologies section. Many of the books there were old collections of ghost tales and horror stories, and I enjoyed those the most. At some point I thought it would be great to actually be one of the writers in such a book -- and lo and behold, I now have stories in literally dozens of anthologies. But it didn't happen overnight. It took a lot of writing, self-editing, patience and persistence.

2) It has definitely changed my life for the better. I've written several books of short stories and poetry collections, and once won a Stoker Award -- surely accepting that award was one of the happiest moments of my life. I've met a lot of great people, made a lot of wonderful friends, and look forward to challenges, achievements and adventures to come.

3) I've written a novel with a collaborator, and we are currently shopping that to publishers. I have another story collection coming out this year. Beyond that, I look forward to writing more stories, more books, and maybe getting into screenplays -- and whatever else the future has in store.

Nicholas Grabowsky

Nicholas Grabowsky has been hailed by fans of horror/fantasy throughout North and South America and Europe for popular novels such as the macabre aliens-among-us epic The Everborn, The Rag Man, Pray Serpent’s Prey, Halloween IV (and its special edition), and Sweet Dreams, Lady Moon, with a body of work extending to short stories, screenplays, poetry, songs and a wide variety of nonfiction. He was born in Southern California and spent his upbringing in and around the Anaheim and Los Angeles areas, where he studied acting and music. Aside from his writing career, he has been in the limelight as a radical gospel preacher and rock vocalist, teacher, lecturer and activist, and shares a role in helping further establish Michael Myers as an American horror icon.

Currently, Mr. Grabowsky is a resident of the Sacramento, California area, where he is at work on new novels and projects including The Downwardens and an Everborn sequel and comic books, and has developed the small publishing firm of Diverse Media.

For more on the writer and his works, visit http://www.downwarden.com, the official site of all things Grabowsky.

1) Rankin & Bass' "Mad Monster Party" when I was probably as young as 6, then in the sixth grade I read "The Rats" and "Lair" by James Herbert. I was probably born liking horror in some form. I thought I was a vampire in the first and second grades, flapping my jacket at recess pretending to fly and biting girls on the arms. The rest, as I grew older, was history.

2) Since it's always been of high interest in one way or another, it's naturally been a part of it. But more profoundly, I suppose, it's had an affect in the sense that I've been making a living off of it here and there for years. It's what I am, how I feed my family, what I do and what I like to do.

3) It'll always be a part of my life, but I see myself getting so involved that I actually leave my mark in a profound way, somehow.