Guest Post: Eliza Victoria on Why We Read Horror

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 18 - 2013

Various commitments have me unable to post on Rocket Kapre as often as I like, so I’ll be reaching out to other Filipino writers/creators to do posts for the blog. First up is Usok and Alternative Alamat contributor (and friend) Eliza Victoria, who happens to have a new book out: Unseen Moon. Enjoy! – Paolo

I posted an announcement about my new collection of dark fiction, Unseen Moon, the same month two pressure cooker bombs exploded during the Boston Marathon. The following month, three women escaped from a house on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, freeing themselves from a decade of sex slavery and confinement. In the face of real-life tragedy, who needs horror stories? I continue to write them, and I continue to read them, even as I sit paranoid in commuter buses and lock (and double-lock) my apartment door at night. Even my own poetry deals with crime and death.

In a recent interview with Neon Literary Magazine, I said that I am very interested in exploring the capacity of humans to be both kind and terrible. How kind? How terrible? According to reports, the alleged Cleveland kidnapper allegedly (don’t you just love/hate that word?) caused one of the captives to have miscarriages by punching her in the gut. In 2012, a 23-year-old woman in Delhi was raped by six men inside a bus, and died from her injuries days later. Can you imagine the kind of injury that woman’s body endured in order to cause her death? In 1974, five people in Utah were forced by armed robbers to drink Drano, a corrosive drain cleaner. It peeled away the flesh around their mouths.

And I haven’t even mentioned the Khmer Rouge massacres, the lynch mobs, the rape of our women during wartime, what happened in Maguindanao. And on and on.

That’s how terrible we are.

But why are we like this? Why do we commit these terrible deeds? Looking for the answer, some end up with clinical studies, and I end up with horror fiction.

Horror is a fact of life,” says Joyce Carol Oates, “and as a writer I’m fascinated by all facets of life. As H.P. Lovecraft has said, ‘The oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.’ Horror or gothic literature is the most imaginative of all literatures, bearing an obvious relationship to the surreal logic of dreams.”

I enjoyed writing the stories in Unseen Moon. Dark fiction is challenging to write, and as a writer, you need constant challenges in order to improve your craft.

As a reader, I turn to dark fiction because it excites me, it intrigues me. In good horror tales, something always happens, and something always changes. And these tales share with you the kind of horror you can face head-on, unlike the horrors of the real world. You can finish a tale and be stunned and shaken, but still have enough cheer to sit down with your loved ones for dinner.

Robert McCammon, one of the founders of the Horror Writers Assocation, said, “Horror fiction upsets apple carts, burns old buildings, and stampedes the horses; it questions and yearns for answers, and it takes nothing for granted. It’s not safe, and it probably rots your teeth, too. Horror fiction can be a guide through a nightmare world, entered freely and by the reader’s own will. And since horror can be many, many things and go in many, many directions, that guided nightmare ride can shock, educate, illuminate, threaten, shriek, and whisper before it lets the readers loose.”

It “questions and yearns for answers”, but above all, it is a “guided nightmare ride”.

A horror story may be unsettling and shocking, but I know someone wrote it for me, and I know that someone will guide me, until the end.

Let me guide you, too.

Eliza Victoria‘s fiction and poetry have appeared in several online and print publications in the Philippines and elsewhere. Her work has won prizes in the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards.

 

Unseen Moon, a collection of five stories, is her latest book. For more information, visit http://elizavictoria.com.

One Response to “Guest Post: Eliza Victoria on Why We Read Horror”

  1. [...] have a guest post up on Rocket Kapre, manned by fellow writer Paolo [...]

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Rocket Kapre is an imprint of Eight Ray Sun Publishing Inc. (a new Philippine-based publisher), dedicated to bringing the very best of Philippine Speculative Fiction in English to a worldwide audience by means of digital distribution. More info can be found at our About section at the top of the page.

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