I’m often asked why I write the dark things I do – a question usually followed with comments like “you don’t look like you’d write that kind of thing” or my all-time (un)favorite “you should do romances instead – I like romances”.
Oddly enough these comments have all come from women, usually during various signings, and far more frequently than the men who smile as though they’d like to pat me on the head for “being spooky”.
Stranger still, perhaps, is the fact neither reaction much bothers me. Every piece I write centers around the reality the most truly frightening monsters are those wearing the sweetest faces. By the time you’ve dismissed a thing as harmless you’ve already let it in and that’s when the horror begins.
For me it isn’t about grime and gore or how many screens I can pry it out of you – it’s about causing the sudden realization that a thought, feeling, or idea has managed to creep underneath your skin and now the dark is as ever present as the light.
We can’t have one without the other, you know, and – let’s be real – the daytime is every bit as treacherous as the night no matter how hard you try to convince yourself otherwise. You need to know fear to value relief just as you must feel sorrow to recognize joy or appreciate all you stand to lose.
Just bear in mind it is not necessarily the house that becomes haunted – it’s you – and once it takes root you’re going to carry that ghost along with you for a lifetime. Because sometimes when you stare into the abyss, the abyss falls in love with you – and if that’s not romantic I don’t know what it is.
On a more serious note it does occasionally rub me the wrong way when I hear folks dismiss horror as if we’re a bunch of goofballs punching out cutesy silly monster stories because we are unable to produce anything finer (and, yes, I’ve encountered this bias even more than girls ought to write romance because they’re girls).
What I love most about this genre is that you actually can – gasp! – write high-quality scares using intelligent words sewn together all fancy-like and address serious issues. Or you can take readers for a nice simple ride with lots of fun, thrills, and chills that leave everyone feeling good in the end. Horror is a broad term with endless possibilities and all are accepted within the community as being worthy of the cause.
The horror genre is to me what Halloween is as a holiday – everyone is free to participate as much or as little as they like and can go as dark or lighthearted as they please without condemnation. So many things in this life and beyond can be downright terrifying if placed in the right – or is it wrong? – hands. That’s what makes the dark side so damn beautiful.
About JD Phillips
JD Phillips is a writer of dark fiction as well as the creator/owner of BonesnStitches. She is both self-published and published through presses such as WTF Books and Angelic Knight Press. She spends her free time playing with her furry kids, killing people on the Playstation, and communing with spirits.