Confession. This is the first horror story I have ever written.
Yet as I developed the characters and plot behind Dark and Scary Parts and All, I quickly realized that had more than enough inspiration to draw from…
As a kid, I was never the one spinning tales over roasting s’mores by a campfire -- I was the girl hiding behind her pillow watching Halloween. But I was still watching. At the same time, I was learning that there were different ways to be scared and that I preferred the more psychological ones to the pure id of a straight up slasher flick. Not that gore didn’t get the job done, just that for me there was something even more chilling and satisfying about the first kind. Hitchcock’s Psycho, Stephen King’s The Shining and Carrie…movies and books where the knife twist began in the audience’s mind long before it made contact with any flesh onscreen.
Which brings me to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, i.e., my gateway drug to all horror. It was the very first monster tale that I fell in love with, probably because I asked myself the same question that every kid does after the first read: what is a monster? Is it the creature himself, or the Doctor who created him?
And then there’s The Omen. Damien was the very first creepy kid I’d ever seen in a movie and I found it fascinating to watch his parents decide what to do when they realize that kid is the heir to all evil. (Now there are tons of these movies -- the long haired ghost girl in The Ring, The Children of the Corn, head spinning Regan in The Exorcist -- but Damien made the mold for innocence lost.)
As I reflect on these wonderfully horrific tales, I’ve come to realize that most of the stories that make my skin crawl – and the ones that I draw inspiration from – are the ones aren’t just horror stories. They’re love stories, too. Dark, twisty ones that don’t necessarily end with happily ever after, but there is love there all the same. For example, Frankenstein’s’ creature doesn’t want to take over the world, he wants to run away with a girl. And The Omen is about familial love. Because while Damien’s parents love him, but they have to save the world from him. Interesting, right?
So when I finally put pen to paper and wrote my own scary tale, I applied all that I had learned. Namely, the horror stories that really make my skin crawl are the ones that make you fall in love just a little…before they make you scream.