Should Horror by Censored?
Monday, 30 November -0001
Posted On 2015-01-16 12:43:27 |  Last Update 2015-01-16 12:43:27 |  Read 3847 times | 0 Comments

Find out what horror-author Lou Morgan think of censoring YA Horror fiction.

Everyone keeps secrets from their parents.  Mine, when I was about thirteen, was horror books. I would smuggle contraband Stephen Kings and Point Horrors and vampire anthologies home from friends’ houses and read them late at night, because my mother wouldn’t let them in the house.  Not knowingly, anyway. If I tried to count my friends who read horror at the same age (whether they were allowed to or not) I would quickly run out of fingers. We all did it, reading these “unsuitable” books.  We still do - but now there’s no-one trying to tell us that a book is “too scary” or “too dark”.

In recent interview, Neil Gaiman talked about the importance of darkness in stories, saying it was “like an inoculation”, [] something manageable. Patrick Ness has spoken about the darkness that can reach into any young adult’s life, and how refusing to engage with that is little better than leaving them to face it alone. [] In 2011, Maureen Johnson said something similar, and started the #YAsaves hashtag on Twitter. It is still in use today - an eternity later in the world of social media.

When it comes to the darkness, horror rules.  Where other books might edge into the shadows, horror lives there.  That’s the point of it, isn’t it?  To scare us.  To go out of its way to frighten us into sleeping with the lights on.  And that’s why we read it, right?  Well, yes… and no.  We read it for the scares, but we also read it because horror is about limits.  What we can take and what we can’t.  And that’s exactly what, as young adults, our lives are about.  What we can do, what we can’t; pushing the limits of who we were to figure out who we’re becoming.  If a book is too scary, too much, too far over our limit, we can put it down.  Books that scare us give us control - even if it’s only over whether we turn the next page.

To tell a young adult reader that they can’t cope with something is to take that power away.  It’s to tell them that they can’t know their own limits, at a time when they need to test them for themselves.  Books are about every reader’s individual imagination: censor that, or chip away at their faith in it,  and what message are we sending?

-Lou Morgan

Lou Morgan is the author of Sleepless, which together with Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell will launch Red Eye, a brand new horror series from Stripes Publishing in January 2015.

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