Wednesday, April 07, 2010

New monsters...or another tired old look in the mirror?

I caught a nice article in the Guardian about the Campaign for Real Fear short story competition. I don't know much about Maura McHugh, but I read a few of Christopher Fowler's books when I was younger, with "Disturbia" probably my favourite.

I like what they're getting at though. Where are the new monsters? Damn right, there're only so many vamps, woofs and brain-munchers you can take before you want to decapitate the lot of them and shove silver-tipped stakes through their skulls just to make sure they stay dead for a good decade or so.

I'm interested to see what comes out of this. My worry is I've heard arguments like this in horror before and all that comes out of it is a slew of "there's nothing more monstrous than us humans" stories. To be fair, there isn't. When it comes to sheer gut-wrenching nastiness, real life puts a shiv in the guts of horror fiction every time. However, just like vamps, there's only so many humans being shitty to other humans stories you can read before it starts getting tedious. Like tuning into Doctor Who only to find out you've got Eastenders (a dreadful, dreary, miserable British soap) instead.

Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies are popular for a reason. They might not possess the same shock value as stories grounded more in reality, but they do offer escapism. Personally, I think the challenge is to continue to shock an increasingly genre-savvy audience, without boring them with the same grim, mundane everyday existence they're trying to escape in the first place.

I'm biased though. I like my monsters. The weirder the better. Hopefully they'll turf up something as exotic, terrifying and downright strange as China Mieville's slake moths and insane multi-dimensional spiders.

I might give the competition a try. That 500 word limit is a real bitch though. At least it'll keep horror-head occupied, which might leave erotica-head free to write some stories where the main character gets to have sex and not get their soul ripped out, all their fluids drained or any of the other bizarre and unusual deaths I seem to subject my characters to :D

And rather predictably, the first idea I had - A "there's nothing more monstrous than us humans" story.


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