With me here today is Steve Feasey, who’s book Wereling, the first in a new young adult series called Wereling a.k.a. Changeling in the U.K., was released on April 27, 2010. It will be followed up in February 2011 with Dark Moon. You can also read an excerpt of Wereling here.
Three lucky commentators have a chance to win a copy of Wereling. As always, details are listed at the end of the post.
by Steve Feasey
All writing is about invoking an emotion in your reader. In horror, those emotions are apprehension, anxiety, tension and fear. If you can’t invoke these, you’re not really making it as a horror writer. That’s not to say that you only want to stir up these feelings in your reader; you need to drag them, kicking and screaming, through a whole raft of other feelings, but at some point or another, you need to invoke The Fear.
How do you do this? Through your characters.
I don’t plot. I don’t seem to have a brain that is correctly wired to do such a thing, and I tend to fly my bird ‘on instruments only’. I usually know where I’m going: I’ll have an idea of how the book will end, but I don’t really know how it’s going to get there. And neither do my characters. As I start to write a book, I don’t really consider how my protagonist might make it to the ending. I do try to think of as many obstacles as I can to stop them from achieving their goal, but I try not to allow myself to think about how they might overcome these problems. It’s not my journey, it’s theirs, and I like to wait until they’re deep in the mire before offering to help them to extricate themselves from it. And it’s in this way that I hope I can invoke those emotions that make horror fiction work.
Your reader needs to believe in your character. They need to be able to put themselves in the same situation as your protagonist, and imagine what they would do in the same circumstances. If a writer uses his characters as a means to achieve an end – to fit a predetermined plot – the result is all too often banal and clichéd. If I, the writer, don’t know what is going to happen next, hopefully the reader will not be able to second guess, and the tension can be ratcheted up to such a degree that The Fear creeps in and takes a hold.
Good horror is like a well designed roller-coaster ride. You stand at the bottom of the ride, waiting in the queue, and you can see the twists and turns that the designer has had built into the ride. You tell yourself that you know exactly what is coming, but what the hell, you’re going to ride it anyway. After a long wait, you finally get into the car. You pull down the heavy bars that will keep you secured in your seat. Remember, you’ve seen the loops and turns and drops from the outside: you know what’s coming. But your heart starts beating a little faster anyway. The ride starts, and the cars jolt forward suddenly, exiting the loading station to begin the climb. You lean out over the edge a little, and try to look nonchalant to the people still in the queue below. And all the time the loud clank, clank, clank sound of the car being dragged up the incline fills your ears. You reach the top, there’s a moment’s pause, you start to tip forward, gravity takes hold of the car, and you’re off – hurtling downwards at incredible speed, twisting, turning, looping, climbing for a moment, then dropping, twisting and turning suddenly again. The Fear consumes you – you scream and shout and roar.
Good horror gives the reader a glimpse of what’s coming. It builds the tension to a point where there has to be a release, and then it hurtles the reader around, spinning and turning and surprising until the ride stops. Good horror makes you want to ride the ride and let The Fear in.
Steve Feasey lives with his family in Hertfordshire, UK, where he sometimes hears a strange and unidentifiable howling just after midnight. Wereling is his first venture into teen fiction.
Three lucky commentators will have a chance to win a copy of Wereling.
To enter, leave a comment below answering the following question:
What makes horror good for you and do you have a favorite horror book ?
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6. Giveaway ends Wednesday, August 4th at 11:59 PM EST.
7. The winner will be picked with the help of Random.org.
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