In case you’ve been hypnotized by all the hearts and flowers, February is also Women in Horror Month, which is totally a better holiday and we should totally have our own candy aisle in the store during this time of year. Anywho, I’ve done different slants on WiHM the last few years, and this year I thought I’d give way to some awesome authors who haven’t had the chance to get on my blog and give their pov on the horror genre. Off and on, I’ll probably slide in here and there with some posts of my own, as well as reblogs of some points of discussion I’ve touched on in previous years – you know, to still prove that I use this site or something.
Today’s guest is the awesome Emerian Rich, so please make her feel at home!
My Path to Horror: Maleficent, Haunted Widows, and Anne Rice.
by Emerian Rich
I’m a relatively new horror addict compared to other addicts my age. I’ve only been opened to the genre for about twenty years, so those my age excited by the memory of Freddy or Jason, just don’t understand why I’m not as tuned-in.
Well you see, I’m a minister daughter. So, things spooky or scary, were labeled evil, and therefore forbidden.
That doesn’t mean I wasn’t called to the dark side from an early age. I always loved Halloween. Dressing up as someone else for a day? Who wouldn’t like that? Despite several of these holidays spent in religious costumes (I know, right? Who dresses as Mary and Joseph for Halloween?) I loved pretending. Pretending leads to stories in your head, and stories in your head are one thing that no one can control.
I remember my first glimpse of dark beauty coming from Disney films. Yes, don’t hate me, but shots of the Disney villain Maleficent sent me into giddy fits. I wasn’t allowed to watch Sleeping Beauty, because it had a witch in it, but somehow I gleaned bits and pieces from media and shopping to hold me over.
My next connection to horror was in books. Although I wouldn’t discover the horror section of the bookstore for many years, my early literary taste in romance did not let me down. The maiden locked in a dungeon by an evil queen, the widow left in the lighthouse on the rocky stormy cliff to deal with the grief of her most beloved husband, the heiress who lays claim to her haunted mansion, these tropes quickly became my favorite. Before the creation of “paranormal romance” with its tight leather skirts and stilettos, these books were full of the dark beauty, the “pretty horror” that I have come to love.
Horror truly enveloped me in college. I book-swapped with a friend right before Spring Break. She lent me Feast of all Saints by Anne Rice. While not a horror book, it spoke to me in such a deep way. I had just realized I’d been abused as a child. Sure, I knew I was hit, but at nineteen I came to the sudden realization that what he’d done, the suffering I’d endured, was not natural. I was an insomniac and a week off school with no job at the time, was not the best time to be alone with the issues kicking around my brain. I just laid in bed, staring at the ceiling, THINKING. The horrors of my past wouldn’t be put down. Picking up Feast of all Saints, I didn’t expect much. I’d never heard of Anne Rice and I thought, “Well, at least it will get my mind off things.” I read the 640 page book in one day. As Marcel grappled with his father’s betrayal, I cried my eyes out, going through my own self-exploration.
It was early morning when I finished, and I dressed to go out. I gathered the limited amount of cash I had and set out for the nearest used book store. They weren’t open, but I waited outside for the employees to arrive. This wasn’t 2015, when you can just key up a Kindle read. This was early 90’s, when I didn’t have a computer and your average person didn’t know about the internet. I didn’t care about waiting. I craved more of Anne’s work. I needed it. It was the only way I felt I could survive the emotional stress I was going through at the time.
When I asked the book store employee if he’d ever heard of Anne Rice, he laughed at me. Now, I understand why. Every horror reader knows who Anne Rice is, but I was totally clueless. He led me to the book shelf and I poured over the selection. I stayed away from the vampire and witch novels—I didn’t think I liked those kinds of books—but I picked up several of her others. Cry to Heaven, another favorite, made me cry in public. I was addicted. Her work was like a sedative to my over-active, grieving mind.
A few days later I had to get more and gave in. The only ones I hadn’t tried were the “scary” ones. And so it began, my love affair with Lestat, Louis, and Claudia. I ate up everything she had available. I fell in love with her use of description and how she made me feel like I was there—in the room—with the characters. I even gave in to The Witching Hour at last, devouring it during finals, which wasn’t very good for my test scores. Anne opened the world of horror to me in a very strange, but all-consuming way. Suddenly I was a horror addict, who liked vampires and witches and mummies!
I didn’t mean to create this post about the greatest woman horror writer on Earth, but it has become that, hasn’t it? A sort of love letter to Anne, explaining how deep my love runs.
That being said, don’t think I’m the stalker type. I’m not going to by an RV, paint “Lestat Forever” on it and go around the country following Anne to her book signings (although how awesome would that be?). No, I don’t love Anne’s books because she’s a good writer or because she is kind to her fans, or because she’s written some of the best characters in horror fiction. I love them, and they will always be close to my heart, because they helped me survive a time in my life when I felt completely lost.
Now that I am grown (as a horror addict that is, I never want to really grow up), I find my love of horror started young. It’s always been a quiet whisper in the depths of my being, a curl of smoke emitting from my heart and travelling into my active imagination. So, sure… I may not know Freddy’s rhyme or Jason’s body count, but I am a horror addict nonetheless. I was born with the need to embrace the dark stirrings in the woods and investigate the web-covered houses. And no one (least of all myself) can stop the stories in my head.
Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire series, Night’s Knights and horror hostess for the internationally acclaimed podcast, HorrorAddicts.net. To find out more about her books, go to: emzbox.com