Why I Write Action Horror

(Cross Posted from www.strugglingwordguy.com)

Occasionally, I’m reluctant to tell people that I write horror. My problem is that -for a lot of people- ‘Horror’ means movies like Hostel or Saw, gleefully gory scholckfests in which the characters exist for no other reason than to murdered (or worse) horribly. The term ‘torture porn’ is wholly appropriate for this sort of work.

Picture above, what I don’t write.
I know good people who like that sort of thing so I won’t speak ill of the (sub)genre. And to be fair; I’ve been known to enjoy stories with violence, gore and despicable acts happening to both the innocent and guilty alike. So why split hairs?
For me, I’m interested in efficacy. I’m interested in characters who fight. Whether they live or die is immaterial; I’m interested in the struggle. And I think this struggle is often in its purest form in Action Horror. 

Pictured above, the kind of book I try to write.

My most important goal in everything I write is to tell a compelling story populated by Characters the reader cares about. If there’s a secondary goal, it’s this: to remind readers that -no matter how f***ed up the situation they are never powerless. Things don’t always work out for my Characters but that’s not the point. The struggle is the point. The pushing past fear is the point.
I use horror tropes and a fixation on fear because I believe that one of the greatest challenges in modern life is mastering our fear.

What is Action Horror?

(Cross Posted at www.strugglingwordguy.com)

I write Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.  But what I find myself writing most is Action Horror and it’s probably the genre closest to my heart.  I love a story where someone shoots a fucking vampire in the face.  Speaking of which…

action horror definition

Some of my favorite examples: Aliens, World War Z, and innumerable chronicles about creature hunters.  Sadly, Van Helsing has to be included in this list… but don’t hold that against the genre.

they can't all be winners

Think every zombie movie ever made.  Think space marines vs xenolife.  Think the Thing’s R.J. MacReady testing the blood of his coworkers.

If I wanted to be literary, I would claim to be carrying on a three thousand year old tradition.  That is to say, I want to retell Beowulf over and over again because goddamn do I love that story.  If I want to be crass I say I like stories where people kill cool looking monsters in endless varieties of awesomely violent ways.  I’m sometimes afraid to admit that I write ‘horror’ because the strongest association in people’s head nowadays is torture porn (a la Saw, Hostel and innumerable others incarnations).

Exact definitions are difficult because you could conceive of all horror stories as ‘action’ (running, screaming for help, or even begging for help are all ‘actions’).  I just look at what I like to write as one part of a continuum.  On one end is torture porn (which focuses on victimization and -well- torture) and on the other end there’s action horror (where the emphasis is on plans, the skills and abilities of human beings faced with an impossible situation).  And it’s the latter that generally interests me.

I adore considering the best laid plans of men battling nightmares.  It doesn’t matter if they’re soldiers, obsessives or ordinary people who ‘peaked behind the veil.’  They might not live through the night, but they’re not going to go down without a fight.

(Comment!  Commenting is awesome.  If you like great stories you can read my fiction CHEMO: Town of Golden by clicking here or listen by clicking here and skipping to the 22 minute mark.)