Guest Post: Of Things Horror in Nature by Rian Torr
Of Things Horror in Nature
by Rian Torr
What drew you to this genre?
I am a fan of all genres--and ultimately would like to try my pen in many. I have studied my share of most forms.
What happened was, I had all these unfinished novels from different traditions--and when I gave myself the ultimatum to choose just one to finish first, I chose the horror book because it was going back to my deepest roots. The fantasy work I had going came a close second. Fictional auto-biography arrived a distant third.
But now that I have finished In French's Forest, I have come to realize that while it will take me months or years to refuel my jets of inspiration enough to get started on completing one of the other projects from a different genre--I can in the meantime much more quickly jump back into another horror work, without having to change gears too much. Mind you, I more accurately categorize IFF as a supernatural fantasy horror love novel--but the broader tones are definitely mostly to do with fear.
So the decision was made for me: write a line of horror books. Other pen names and genres could come at their own pace.
I should further clarify that the kind of horror I am most interested in is the type that walks that tight-rope away from the literal. While I will use the tools of the genre to punctuate twists in the narrative--I am not so much interested in shocking the reader's senses--as in shocking the reader's psyche through a revelation of what the underlying web of the tale spins into focus.
In French's Forest, for instance, has a major fold in the plot that was so overwrought that the first reader to give feedback never even clued in to the true undercurrent--to the truth about what was really happening in the story all along. I made a casual comment about this to him--to which he simply shook his head, in disbelief, almost insisting that I had it all wrong, that there was no second layer to it at all. I knew then, beyond my best expectations, that I had done my job and left enough dots unconnected so as to not give it all away too soon. Interestingly, a few breaths later, he began to scratch his chin and remarked that he would have to read the book all over again, in light of now knowing an entirely new angle to its most central plot.
That is what I am looking for in an ideal realm. I am not so interested in the blood and gore unless it is there to underscore some kind of psychological knot in the unfolding drama.
You could also make the argument that IFF is as much a love story as a horror, but I am going to leave that to the readers to discover on their own as part of the book's enjoyment. It was certainly a part of the enjoyment of the writing process. I am not sure I could ever write a horror book that did not have a major thread of romance in it.
Further to all of this, I don't even usually find horror very frightening. Sure it's easy to engage, surprise, shock--but in the purest sense of horror, to shake the soul--that is hard. Find a way to hold a mirror up to the reader's mind and have them see in it the very monster they are learning about--that is about as close as I can come to a formula for it in words. If you are just showing them the monster--then maybe you'll freak them out the first time--but when they get desensitized, your gore grows gratuitous--and they go away unchanged.
Describe your writing process ...
Best bet is to follow me on riantorr.blogspot.com, where I am actively describing my processes toward completing the next horror novel.
Basically, when I'm really ready to write, I do anywhere from a word to a ream per day, until it is done. Some days I rewrite the same line so many times that I end up just going to sleep defeated. Other days I truly trounce a new trail--pull no punches and find a clearing onto new land. Fifty pages might pour forth in a pinch--or fifty words might take a month to perfect. But by the end of it, the process does get easier--and eventually the words grip me enough that I start having trouble letting them go at night. Then it becomes a desperate race to the finish just so I can get some sleep again.