Guest Blog: Pushing Buttons – Notes On Fear by Fiona Dodwell
Having been passionate about horror in both film and literature all of my life, I have exposed myself to some grim subjects. Death, hauntings, demons, violence, spirits, possession and oppression. Subjects that are not always easy to tackle, but certainly fascinating enough to draw me in, grab my attention and inspire me in my writing. I can’t really say why I am drawn into these shadowy worlds of mystery and spirituality, but it’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
I enjoy exploring fear, I love getting under the skin of people. It’s what I enjoy doing when I write – pushing readers into those darker realms. Often people are surprised when I tell them that I write horror, and readers have expressed how gripped they were by my first novel – The Banishing.
I surprise people, they say, because I don’t look like a horror writer. I am often told I am too girly, too soft, too feminine, to really dig into such subjects. I come as a surprise to some people, when they meet me. That’s fine – it’s part of being a writer, especially horror, when people expect you to be draped in black and growing horns!
That’s the readers response to me – even family and friends. My surprise, though, something that makes me react, is the way I see people respond to horror itself. There is something about the subject that seems to make certain people recoil, as if by writing something scary, or reading something scary, we are doing something immoral, or inappropriate.
I have come across many things which have shocked me – and at times, upset me. “What’s wrong with you? Your interest in horror is unhealthy.” “There must be something wrong with you, some deep-rooted issue, for you to get entertained by horror.” I have truly heard it all. One individual questioned my mental health, because I she found out I wrote a story about demonic possession. This type of negative reaction is one I am fast becoming used to – but nonetheless, it can hard to remain untouched by certain judgements.
I often wonder what it is that can be so bad about the horror genre, to some people. What is it that makes them so uncomfortable? True, that in a world already full of violence and devastation, we can hardly blame some people for wanting to watch something light and happy. But to me, horror runs far deeper than that. Horror, to me, is a “safe place” where we can endure the eeriness, the quiet thrill, the craft of being pulled into unknown realms where everything is uncertain and unsafe, while still knowing we are at home, secure and able to switch off the TV or flip shut the book if things become too much. It is escapism, in a way, much like any other genre. Nothing like the horrors of real life, where we can’t stop the wars, famines and terrorism from growing and happening. No amount of shutting off the TV will stop those types of fears from carrying on, unfortunately.
I have often compared being a fan of horror to those who queue at theme parks to get onto the dark, looming roller-coasters. How many of us wait in line to be thrown into darkness, to descend into the air, feeling – if only momentarily – that anything could happen, that we are at the mercy of the unknown? Again, it is the experience of the safe, thrilling fear. Something I enjoy from writing and reading horror.
Writing can, for certain readers, hold a moral responsibility – and one thing I will say is that whenever I write something dark, disturbing or frightening, it always has a place, a context. It will serve the story. The only thing I avoid – and dislike in horror – is needless, gratuitous violence. Blood and gore for the sake of shock is not my thing. That is where my own boundary lies.
If you enjoy horror, or want to see a little slice of my own dark imagination, The Banishing and Obsessed are both available online now, in eBook and paperback formats. Thanks for reading!
The Banishing and Obsessed are both available as eBook and paperback formats, online at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository and www.damnationbooks.com
Synopsis: James Barker thinks he has it all, until one fateful morning he witnesses a gruesome suicide.
Haunted by the death, James seeks therapy for post-traumatic stress. Finding that the answers he seeks don’t lie in the therapist’s office, James embarks on a journey.
Who was this man, and why did he kill himself?
Now haunted by visions of the dead man in his home and in his nightmares, James begins to wonder if he is losing his mind. Surely the dead can’t return?
As his obsession spirals out of control, James uncovers the terrifying truth of the stranger who died at his own hands.
Soon he realizes that his life may be in danger – as well as the lives of those he loves.
YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=malbnCYxAUk
Damnation Books: http://www.damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615724864
Excerpt: He’d heard somewhere that drowning was a nice death that unconsciousness was quick to come, that it was like floating to oblivion. The idea sounded almost inviting.
James recoiled, jerked his body away from the edge of the pier, scared of how easy it was to end it all. What the hell am I doing?
“Go on, then. Do it.” The voice was behind him, close, he could almost feel the warmth of someone’s breath against his neck. Suddenly he felt himself being shoved by invisible hands against the railing behind him.
James spun around, gasped. No one was near him, no one beside him, but he watched as a dark figure strolled casually away from the pier. He walked with big strides, a confident looking man. Except he is not a man, James thought, fighting the compulsion to turn back to the sea and jump into its cold clutches. It’s a demon. And I won’t let him win.
Fiona Dodwell lives in the UK with her husband. She works part-time for a care charity, and enjoys writing horror. Her love of all things dark began when she was a child, and found a battered copy of Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery in the house. Since then, her passion has grown. Fiona enjoys writing short stories, novellas and novels, and her first two published novels – The Banishing and Obsessed – are both now available in eBook and paperback formats. Her third novel – The Shift – has been contracted for release in 2013 with publisher Double Dragon Publishing. You can find out more about the author at her website: www.fionasfiction.wordpress.com