Halloween Haunts: Thank You, Horror
by Tom Leveen
The thing is, the non-readers of horror don’t get it. They don’t get our attraction to the darkness, to the monstrous. They don’t get that we, more than they, are attuned to the human condition. To mortality and disease and the unfairness of monsters in our midst.
They don’t get that that’s why we write it, why we read it. It’s our inoculation. It’s our telescope and microscope, making the distant loom large and the subtle come to life so that we can study it and, perhaps, sublimate it.
We are healthier and stronger for it. We’ve seen it all in those pages. And like the old bookseller in The NeverEnding Story, if asked if we’ve ever been Captain Nemo or Tarzan, we can say, “Yes.”
We can also say, “Our books are safe.”
Despite the horrors within them, they hold our hands and guide us. And have you noticed just how often the good guys win in these stories? Not all, but many. Horror frequently gives us hope unlike any other genre.
For that, I am grateful.
I’m grateful to you, writer, who takes the time to craft such eldritch terrors for us. I’m grateful to you, reader, for entrusting me with your time to join in whatever cavern or abattoir I’ve invented for you to get lost in.
And thank you, Horror Writers Association, for bringing together so many of a like mind, so that I am never alone, never without a story, and never without hope.
This is a sacred responsibility we have taken upon ourselves. Who are we to assume it? We are the kids of Derry, we are the researchers in Antarctica, we are the teens on Elm. We have spent our lives not recoiling from horror, but seeking it out like it’s some sage; to sit at its feet and learn its secrets.
We know its secrets. We know the comfort that it gives, no matter how ironic that may seem to others.
It is October. The world in imperiled. Now is the time for us to keep at it; to write those stories: the gory and macabre, the sinister and the silly. They all have meaning for someone out there, and what a privilege it is to share with them.
So this month, let’s give them real heroes. As we continue our work even when it is the hardest (I’m in the middle of a fifty-page Chapter One at the moment, so, I’ve got my work cut out for me), let’s remember the importance horror has had in our lives and let’s give our readers our best. They need us. They need stories. They need gripping main characters facing unspeakable odds to root for.
Let’s give them that. It helps. If nothing else, it will help me. Because I’m scared. Not of boogies and frights and china dolls that blink at you and whisper. But of the real world, of what awaits. What is behind that door we’re facing, after all? We don’t know, and that’s what dread is all about.
You help me be brave. You help me get pleasantly lost. Never, ever underestimate that gift.
May you be happy, may you be well, may you be safe, and may you peaceful and at ease.
TOM LEVEEN is an award-winning author and Bram Stoker Award finalist for the novel Hellworld, with nine novels at Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, and more. He has also written for the comic book SPAWN. Please enjoy his novel HEARTLESS for free at bit.ly/2TomNovels, and learn more at linktr.ee/tomleveen.