Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Manichean Struggle

M - Manichean

(The fight between the powers of good and the powers of evil e.g. God and the Devil)

 The world of horror writing is tied up firmly with the world of suspense writing. And, for me, every tale of horror should ultimately be about the struggle between the forces of good and evil. This struggle can be outside ourselves, as in the fight between the Devil and God (or whatever your beliefs deem him/her to be), or inside ourselves as in the fight between the good and bad in all of us.
In my opinion, this Manichean tussle is the essence of all supernatural thrillers and not the gore and senseless bloodlust you see with many ‘horror’ tales.
Some of the best horror writers in the modern era have used fear and suspense so skilfully that readers go to bed with one eye on the curtains! And yet they use no actual violence. Because ultimately fear (emotion), is in the mind of the reader. 
Horror writing, I believe, is more than mindless violence based on screams and monsters. It is the human experience woven into fear of the unknown and fetched up from the darkest corners of our minds. The world of horror writing for me is essentially the world of the everyday but with twists (maybe paranormal?) thrown in that seamlessly take the reader on a journey of ‘what if’s’ and hopefully scare the pants off them because somewhere in the deep primal subconscious we wonder ‘could it be possible?’ 
First of all horror writers must aspire to produce good fiction with all the requirements that entails, i.e. conflict, suspense, good characters, rising tension, meaningful settings, and proper resolution. Then the curtain can go up and the terror can start…

My latest book 'The Witcheye Gene' deals with the theme of good versus evil, in that the main character is fighting a very evil man who's only intention is to cause death and destruction to her family. He aligns himself with what he deems to be the devil, so he can ultimately gain more power for himself.
So what do you think? Do you prefer blood and guts or more subtle tales of terror?


  1. I get more creeped out by the things you don't see, rather than the graphic blood and guts. I love the title of your book!

  2. I agree with you. While blood and gore may make me shudder it doesn't frighten me as such. It is the suspense and anticipation in a well written book that makes me want to sleep with the light on.

  3. Subtle all the way! Two of the most terrifying things I've seen/read were 'The Others' and 'The Turn of the Screw'.

  4. Too much blood reminds me I'm reading a book. It's the creepy stuff that chills the marrow.

  5. I'm usually in favour of more subtle things - blood and guts is nasty but soon forgotten (in a book) whereas something in the mind is harder to get rid of, and hence more chilling.

  6. More subtle for me! I don't like the blood factor. I love how you told about horror being an emotional thing. I totally agree!

  7. Thanks everyone for your comments - much appreciated.