Lashings of Gore
Monday, 30 November -0001
Posted On 2015-09-14 09:15:18 |  Last Update 2015-09-14 09:26:40 |  Read 2203 times | 0 Comments

How bloody do you like your [dead] meat? Horror’s a very personal genre – what terrifies one person will leave another completely cold...

How bloody do you like your [dead] meat? Horror’s a very personal genre – what terrifies one person will leave another completely cold; in the same way, everyone has their own levels of guts and gore that they can stomach before closing the book or turning off the TV. When I first sat down to write Dark Room, my first horror book for an older YA audience, I was glad of the opportunity to push the boundaries a little bit. I had a murderer, the devilish Angel Taker, straining to be let off the leash. I had the wealthy, secluded town of Saffron Hills, where secrets stayed secrets – the perfect hunting ground. And then I had a group of shallow, privileged and beautiful teens making for some tempting prey. I couldn’t go wrong.

Could I?

You can imagine my surprise when I sent the first draft of the manuscript to my editor over at Red Eye, and she politely replied that I’d written an engrossing mystery story and that was great, but would I mind awfully putting a bit more blood and gore and well, horror in it? Stung into action, I sharpened my blades and went back to work. How had I managed to miss the mark? As much as I love the horror genre, I guess I’ve never been a fan of viscera and gory entrails for its own sake. It’s atmosphere that makes the hairs on my neck stand up, the creeping dread of the bloody end that is sure to come.

But this was no time to lose my nerve, especially in front of a YA audience. So I went back to my death scenes and made them not only more gruesome but more poetically apt, ensuring that characters met their maker in appropriate ways – like a slightly more grown-up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which, like so much of Roald Dahl’s work, is an elegant and powerful tale of the macabre in its own right.) The slasher horror is a very visual sub-genre that posed some very particular challenges. Unlike filmmakers, I didn’t have use eerie music, screeching sound effects or disorientating jump cuts at my disposal. Instead I played around with the narrative point of view, switching the action from my heroine Darla so that different characters could find themselves in danger all by their lonesome. In the end this worked out in my favour, as it allowed me to flesh out some of the other inhabitants of Saffron Hills and provide them with a little more depth by shining light upon their secret hopes and fears.

With Dark Room’s publication, I feel I can now hold my head up high. At the very least I manage to placate my bloodthirsty editors, whom I now imagine working to a soundtrack of agonized screams in a dungeon filled with rusted manacles. I very much hope that readers will feel a creeping sense of unease as they turn the page, and that when the Angel Taker strikes they are suitably horrified.

Slay Cheese…!

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