The creation of Quiet Apocalypse

Quiet Apocalypse comes out on Friday. And, I’ve just got to say, this launch is nothing like any other launch I’ve ever done. That’s because Quiet Apocalypse is nothing like any book I’ve ever written before. So I thought it might be fun to take a look at the journey I went through writing this book. If you’re a writer, I hope you’ll learn something from the trip. If you’re just a fan, you might like a peek into the spaghetti bowl that is my brain. 

Quiet Apocalypse is probably the most indulgent book I’ve ever written. It’s a patchwork of things I wanted to write about all pulled together. 

It started with a short story about an apocalypse brought on when no one was able to have children anymore. I was raised Mormon, and one of the many wacky things they believe is that there’s a finite amount of souls in Heaven waiting to come to Earth. As a child, I interpreted that to mean that someday, people would just stop having babies. 

While I don’t believe this anymore, it’s always lurked around in the back of my brain. So I wanted to write about an apocalypse that came about because people just stopped being able to bear children. 

That short story didn’t pan out. It was rather dull, just a man sitting on a park bench thinking back over the horrors that had ensued since people stopped having kids. Eventually, I gave it up.

Sometime later, I realized I wanted to write something about witchcraft. Specifically, I wanted to write a story with a witch as the main character. I was about a year into my witchcraft journey at the time, and it was consuming much of my life. I also wanted to write a haunted house story. Something that had a similar vibe to The House Next Door or The House on Haunted Hill. Or Goosebumps, The Ghost Next Door.

So that’s where we got the start of Quiet Apocalypse. Sadie, a school nurse from a long line of witches, is given an ouija board by her aunt, and she accidentally lets a ghost loose in her apartment while she’s trying to cleanse it. 

Hilarity and horror were going to ensue.

But this wasn’t enough to fill a whole novella. It was barely a short story, and not a satisfying one. 

But of course, this is why we say no writing is ever wasted. I was muddling around, trying to think of something deeper to do with Sadie and her faithful dog, Sage. I loved her. I loved her quirky little apartment building, with the elderly landlord and his husband. I loved the found family feel the whole building had. 

I turned to my notebooks and found the fragments of my apocalypse story. It wasn’t workable on its own. But maybe I could still use that idea. The thought of a world going silent. A world without babies would then turn into a world without children. 

Then, we’d have a very quiet planet.

All of this blended to create the novella I’ve now brought into the world. And I think it turned out pretty well. See what you think on Friday.

Quiet Apocalypse is coming out on Friday the 13th! You can pre-order your copy now on Amazon or Smashwords

Why I don’t watch ghost hunting shows

I love a good ghost story. Especially a haunted house story. And they’re even better when they’re real. I love going on ghost tours, or just reading about an encounter that cannot be explained. A good local ghost story will get me up to 11 every time. 

What I don’t love is ghost hunting shows. And let me tell you why.

(As a quick aside, I do like Buzzfeed Unsolved. I love Ryan and Shane’s new company, Watcher. None of what I’m about to say applies to them.)

They’re performative

Yes, I understand that these are shows, meant for entertainment. I would expect any show like that to be performative because they are there to, duh, perform. But this is an issue I have with reality tv in general. It’s hard to believe that anything is real when we know the participants are fully aware that the camera is on them.

Too often I’ll see ‘professional ghost hunters’ lose their minds over some small supernatural occurrence. Things that I feel like they’ve seen hundreds of times. So why are they so amazed today? 

Because it plays better. 

There’s often a fair amount of infighting on these shows as well. The ghost hunters often have the sorts of relationships that make you wonder why in the hell they’re working together to start with. Often this has less to do with their bad partner choices and more to do with producers hyping up drama where none exists.

By the way, you can make good tv without that. Mythbusters was on for over a decade without that kind of drama. And, fun fact, Jamie and Adam did not get along. But they were God damned professionals who didn’t act like children. 

And a bad working relationship might not be all these shows are faking.

They probably fake things

Do I know this for sure? No, of course not. Do I want to get sued? Not at all, I have no money. So am I going to say for sure that all ghost hunting shows besides Buzzfeed Unsolved fake footage? No, that would be an unprofessional and ludicrous thing to say without proof. 

What I will say is that they often portray footage that seems suspect. Things that look very convincing, and make you wonder how they could ever fake it. But then you watch a video from Captain Dissolution, and you see how they very much could fake it. 

I will also say that catching actual evidence of ghosts on camera would be amazingly difficult and change how we see the world forever. So maybe if a ghost hunting show is claiming that they do this regularly, that claim should be taken with a grain of salt.

They’re exploitative

This is something I take issue with in all reality tv. Far too often, we see people in their worst moments on this kind of content. 

Especially in the shows that do ‘house calls’, we see people who are confused and scared. We might see them making fools of themselves. We might even just see them saying things and making decisions that they might not otherwise. 

And the producers of these sorts of shows have no problem shoving cameras in the faces of distraught people. It’s sick, honestly. If I were to watch a real person on a show, rather than an actor, I’d like to see the best of humanity.

Not the worst.

Quiet Apocalypse is available now for preorder on Amazon and Smashwords. Premiers Friday, May 13th.

The end of the world began with a winter storm.
Sadie’s quiet life is interrupted when a tree crushes the roof of her attic apartment. She’s forced to move to a smaller apartment in the building. Then, her aunt guilts her into clearing an ouija board of a particularly irritating spirit.
But it wasn’t just the roof that was broken by the tree. There was something trapped within the building, waiting. Waiting to wake and bring about the end of the world.
Not with screams, but with silence

Horror Subgenres Part Six

In case you missed them, here are links to parts one, two, three, four and five. 

And this is it! We’ve come to the last post about horror subgenres. Did I get them all? Probably not. But that’s alright. We covered a lot. And hey, if I missed a subgenre you love or one that you wanted to know more about, please let me know in the comments. No reason I can’t do a part seven if I find enough new subgenres.

Techno horror

At the introduction of every technological advancement, there is fear. There will always be some that believe every new way to communicate with each other is the thing that will bring about the fall of society. As though it would ever be just one thing.

While we might like to think that Techno horror is a new subgenre, it’s really not. Sure, there are lots of good stories about internet urban legends coming true. Plenty of ghosts in the machines, hunters stalking innocent prey in comment sections and message boards.

But before there was the internet, there was television, radio and telephones. And we don’t have to look far to see that each had its own set of horrors.

I still think a phone with no caller ID is pretty damn scary.

The Ring is a great example, with a vengeful spirit trapped on a videotape. But we can go much farther back, to the classic film Videodrone. We’re always scared of what we don’t understand, and we don’t understand technology. Even as we’ve grown so dependent on it. And so the Techno horror subgenre is alive and well, with later installments including movies like Pulse.

Urban Gothic

I’ve not been shy about loving city life. Even as I write this I’m sitting in front of a window that looks out over my tiny little city. I can see windows that lead to people’s homes and offices.

And yeah, so many people living and working right on top of each other will lead to some horror stories.

This subgenre is full of dark alleys and dangerous shadows. It’s a drug store at two in the morning, empty but open. It’s someone you see on the other side of the road, who’s gone after a truck goes past. It’s a fifth-story window being opened from the outside. It’s a scream from your neighbor’s apartment, followed by silence.

This is a subgenre that goes back to London. Real horrors like dirty living conditions and clashing politics lead to stories like Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. But we keep right on creating out of this gothic subgenre. Half the Purge movies would fall into this category, as well as the classic American Psycho.

Vampire literature

I don’t know how much I need to say about this one. I think we all know about vampires. The evil, the tortured, the sexy and brooding. Vampire lore has been with us for centuries, even before Stoker gave us the eternal Dracula. And it’s a subgenre that keeps updating along with the times. Capes are replaced with trench coats. What was once a monster lurking in the night becomes an influencer with millions of followers and a deal with Hot Topic.

As a teenager, I was in love with the entire vampire subgenre. As an adult, I’m rather over it. 

Weird Menace

This is another subgenre that is wrapped up in a specific timeframe. In this case, the 1930’s and 40’s. It’s a blend of horror and mystery, with a hero pitted against Satanic villains. This was largely a comic book subgenre, featuring graphic gore and sexual portrayals. Many of these comics lasted only one or two issues before there was enough public outcry to shut them down. One that did last a little while was called Strange Detective Stories. I hate that so many of these were shut down. While I don’t know that I’d call many of these old comics art, they might have evolved into some great works if left the hell alone.

What stories have we lost to the deadly boot of censorship? 

Werewolf fiction

Finally, we come to werewolf fiction. Another well-known subgenre, but a bit more nuanced. Because while werewolves specifically aren’t universal, legends of people turning into monsters under a full moon pretty much are.

I wonder why that is. Why does almost every culture across the world have stories of people turning into animal-like creatures? The styles might change, the animals they resemble differ. But these tales abide.

I wonder why.

There are some great examples of werewolf fiction out there. Underworld was fun, of course, as was I Was A Teenage Werewolf. 

So that’s it. Don’t forget to give this post a like if you enjoyed it. And if I didn’t get to your favorite horror subgenre, let me know in the comments. 

Quiet Apocalypse launches next week, on Friday the 13th! You can preorder it now on Amazon and Smashwords. 

The end of the world began with a winter storm.
Sadie’s quiet life is interrupted when a tree crushes the roof of her attic apartment. She’s forced to move to a smaller apartment in the building. Then, her aunt guilts her into clearing an ouija board of a particularly irritating spirit.
But it wasn’t just the roof that was broken by the tree. There was something trapped within the building, waiting. Waiting to wake and bring about the end of the world.
Not with screams, but with silence.

Paper Beats World is a labor of love. If you loved this post, please consider buying me a cup of coffee on Ko-fi. 

Horror subgenres, Part Five

Just in case you missed them, here are links to parts one, two, three and four.

This horror subgenre post might be my favorite because we’re going to talk about one kind of subgenre that I love. The Gothics.

Southern Gothic

Southern gothic is all about the dark corners of the southern American states. Which gets me every time. Aside from New Orleans, I don’t see much to enjoy below the Mason/Dixon line. If you’re from that part of America and you don’t like that, stop voting for politicians who are trying to take away reproductive rights.

That felt like a snarky point, but it does have something to do with the subgenre. You see, Southern Gothic tends to deal heavily with the complex political spectrum of the south. There is racism and hatred. Burning crosses and battered women. It’s hard for someone like me, who only spent a year there as a child then got the hell out, to grasp the weight of it.

The Southern Gothic subgenre has a lot of discussions of racism. A lot of focus is on the oppressive heat and the strangling kudzu. It’s the nightmares of men defeated in a war, and a people stolen from their homeland and sold as slaves.

Some great examples of Southern Gothic are Lovecraft Country, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and this one episode of Monsterland

Southern Ontario Gothic

There’s a funny story about this subgenre. Author Timothy Findley was being interviewed about his book, The Last of The Crazy People. The interviewer said it had a very Southern Gothic feel. Findley responded, “Sure, it’s Southern Gothic. Southern Ontario Gothic.”

This sort of work is essentially horror with the aesthetic of Canada. This is what I love about gothic genres in general. It is something that can’t always be understood by outsiders, but it is deeply felt by those who have roots in a certain community. Because we are all outsiders to some, and we all have roots somewhere else. Gothic stories are all about those dark corners we know about in our communities.

Because everywhere has dark corners.

Splatter Film

This subgenre has a far different vibe than the others we’ve talked about today. A splatter film glorifies all the gore and blood your dark little heart could want. There are few holds barred in this sort of film. Guts and blood are so prevalent, this feels more like torture porn sometimes.

Other times it can be funny as hell, like in Evil Dead or Dawn of the Dead. 

Splatter films come in all sorts of flavors. A fun one from a few decades ago is splatterpunk from the ’80s. Back when everything was punk.

Suburban Gothic

This is the gothic subgenre I’m most familiar with. As someone who just moved out of the suburbs, which I hate, I know all about this one. 

The suburbs represent conformity. They’re a place many people dream of living, but only because they’ve never done it before. Everyone’s grass is always cut. Their trash is brought to the curb. Everyone’s car is clean. 

Too clean.

My favorite example of this subgenre is The House Next Door, which explores madness in many forms. Another example is Nightmare on Elm Street, where a mob of suburban parents went to extremes to protect their children. Then there’s Poltergeist, which explores the desire to afford to live in this sort of neighborhood, and what lengths someone might go to to achieve that.

Zombies

Ah, zombies. Another genre close to my heart, being from Pittsburgh and all. 

Zombies are pretty popular in pop culture. The fun thing is, that they can also fit into almost any of the other subgenres. You’ve got some zombie stories that are flat-out adventure tales, splatter films, gothic movies of every flavor.

What I love about the zombie subgenre is that it isn’t about the zombies. I mean, it’s a little about the zombies. But it’s more about how the living respond to this apocalypse. What do we do when there’s bad death threatening on all sides? When supplies are low. When we might be separated from people we love, unsure that they’re alright but with every reason to think they’re not. What do we do when the power goes out, the water goes out, the wifi goes out?

That’s the real terror of a zombie story. But it’s the real inspiration, too. Because the people who just look out for themselves, they’re the bad guys. They’re the ones who don’t make it. It’s the people who are looking out for their fellow man, who are risking their own lives to save others, that are the heroes. 

That’s one of the best things about horror in any genre. When faced with unimaginable odds, with the worst kinds of pain and horror, some heroes stand up and save others. Usually with nothing but the will to help and a double-barrel shotgun. Or a chainsaw arm. Whatever they have.

We’ve just got one more of these horror subgenre posts to go. Leave a like if you’ve enjoyed this, and I’ll see you next time. 

Quiet Apocalypse is available now for preorder! Check it out on Amazon or Smashwords. 

The end of the world began with a winter storm.
Sadie’s quiet life is interrupted when a tree crushes the roof of her attic apartment. She’s forced to move to a smaller apartment in the building. Then, her aunt guilts her into clearing an ouija board of a particularly irritating spirit.
But it wasn’t just the roof that was broken by the tree. There was something trapped within the building, waiting. Waiting to wake and bring about the end of the world.
Not with screams, but with silence.

Paper Beats World is a labor of love. If you found value in this post, please consider buying me a cup of coffee on Ko-fi. 

Horror Subgenres, Part Four

If you missed them, here are links to parts one, two, and three.

Welcome to part four of our series of horror subgenres. I’ve been loving the research I’m doing for these posts. My TBR pile keeps growing with every one. And, if you’re a writer like me, this can help a ton when marketing your horror stories. Knowing what you’re working with can certainly help you narrow down your markets.

So let’s get into the subgenres.

Monster literature

This is a pretty easy to define subgenre. A monster story is all about good against evil. Evil is usually in the form of a monster. Of course, it could just as easily be in the form of the absolute idiot who put together a human being out of spare parts and then took off and left it. Or the human who made a potion to turn himself into a different man so he could do all the dirty twisted shit he wanted to do and not get noticed. Or the human who thought all the creatures who couldn’t go out into the sun were going to kill him. 

What I’m saying is, even if this subgenre seems straightforward, it’s really not. These examples (Frankenstein, Jeckle and Hyde and I Am Legend) are much deeper than most people give them credit for. I’m not saying the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein wasn’t a delight. I’m just saying there’s more to the story than popular media would have us believe. 

Mumblegore

Most horror content is fake. We’re all fully aware of this. And if it’s not, it’s called a snuff film and that’s a sin against God and Man. 

The blood is fake, the lines are rehearsed. The acting is well paid. Even in my horror podcast, we use a ton of sound effects and other fakery.

Mumblegore focuses on a more natural approach. It focuses more on improv. The actors aren’t well known, the budget is a shoestring. It’s basically an amateur film, but on purpose. 

I haven’t had the chance to watch many of these films yet. But some examples from recent years are Save Yourself, Rent a Pal, and The Rental.

New Weird

This subgenre is an updated version of Weird Fiction. Starting in the ’90s and early 2000s, it’s a lot of pulp, lots of camp. There are always some sci-fi and speculative fiction elements, of course. And since this was the time I was starting to get into writing, and since I write speculative fiction, I’d say this is more my genre than any we’ve talked about so far.

Organ Transplant 

The first thing I thought about with this one is the old kidney heist urban legend. The one where a guy wakes up in a bathtub full of ice, about 160 grams lighter than when he passed out. 

And that’s the subgenre. We’re talking about people donating organs who didn’t plan to, or people getting extra bits grafted on that they didn’t need.

A classic example is the story Donovan’s Brain. But another good one is the storyline in the show Gotham. Fish Mooney is captured by a man who calls himself the Dollmaker. He’s taking bits off people to sell to others who need them. The rich eat the poor. Nothing new.

Penny Dreadful

Penny dreadfuls were the trashy entertainment of their day. That day being the 19th century in the UK. They were cheap paperback horrors full of gore and rather risque content. For the time, I mean. They sound like they were damn fun. 

Several were based on some true crime stories that were happening around that time. Most notably, the tales of Spring Heel Jack and Sweeney Todd. 

Psychological Horror

This is the stuff that gets to you. Most adults aren’t lying awake at night quaking because of a clown in the sewers. They’re thinking about whether they’re going to run out of food before payday. They’re thinking about what would happen if their kids didn’t come home after school. They’re thinking about that lump they felt, and whether they should make a doctor’s appointment.

The best horror makes us think of these sorts of things.

Psychological horror reminds us of our mortality and that of those we love. It makes us question the safety of our immortal souls. It relies not on monsters, but on the monstrosity, we all fear might lurk within us. There might very well be some supernatural elements. But that’s just a vessel to get us where we need to go. Smack in front of a mirror that shows us our darkest self, and the darkest corners of our world.

Some great examples of this are Saw, Butterfly Effect, and Split. The first two, I have no intention of ever watching again.

They scared me too much. 

That’s it for this time. I’ll be back soon with more horror subgenres.

Sleep tight.

Quiet Apocalypse is available for pre-order now! You can get it on Amazon or Smashwords

The end of the world began with a winter storm.

Sadie’s quiet life is interrupted when a tree crushes the roof of her attic apartment. She’s forced to move to a smaller apartment in the building. Then, her aunt guilts her into clearing an ouija board of a particularly irritating spirit. 

But it wasn’t just the roof that was broken by the tree. There was something trapped within the building, waiting. Waiting to wake and bring about the end of the world. 

Not with screams, but with silence. 

Paper Beats World is a labor of love. If you found something of value in this post, you can buy me a cup of coffee on Ko-fi. 

My Horror Heroes, Shirley Jackson

We’ve come to the last in my Horror Heroes series, but by far not the least. This author is a hero not only to me but to most of the other people on my hero list. 

Of course, we’re talking about the astounding Shirley Jackson. 

Shirley Jackson was an author when women weren’t supposed to be anything but homemakers. And she didn’t do this with anything that resembled support from her family. Her mother was a conservative woman who expected her daughter to be a conservative woman. As I’m sure you can imagine, there was some tension in her home growing up. As a woman raised in a backward, overly religious family, I can relate. 

Jackson’s married life wasn’t much better. Her husband was a professor, but she was soon making more money than him. Despite this, he controlled the finances in the house, dolling out only what he thought she should have of her own damned money. He also cheated on her all the time with his students. 

What’s worse is that he kept right on profiting from her long after she did. He sold a bunch of her writings after she passed, which seems like a huge betrayal. 

Really makes me appreciate my partner. 

But Jackson did what so many creatives do best. She took all the bad in her life and turned it into art. When some assholes in her backward town painted a swastika on her house, she was inspired to write The Lottery. 

Jackson wrote six novels, and over 200 short stories. Her children said she was always working. Either writing or thinking about writing. But she never once made them feel like anything less than the most important thing in her life. 

Jackson wrote some of the scariest novels of all time. The Haunting of Hill House is still considered one of the best ghost stories ever. And she might be the reason I love haunted house stories so much.

She was funny as hell, too. Here’s a great quote from her in regards to people’s response to The Lottery. 

“The number of people who expected Mrs. Hutchinson to win a Bendix washing machine at the end would amaze you.’ 

There’s no shrinking in this woman. There is no demure smile. She had no problem at all telling you exactly what she thought. 

Jackson also wrote extensively about her own life and raising her children. She wrote about her family with wit, sarcasm, and so much love. For her, there was no such thing as work-life balance. Her life was her work, her work was her life.

Jackson was an inspiration. I’ve been inspired by her my whole life. And I hope that you are too.

In short, here are the things I’ve learned from Shirley Jackson. And what you can learn from her too.

-Creating doesn’t have to take a back seat to caring for your family.

-Don’t take shit from anyone. 

-Don’t be afraid to succeed, beyond your spouse.

-Don’t let your mental illness hold you back from what you want to achieve. 

-Don’t let your gender define what you do.

-Most importantly, don’t be too worried about what other people think about your work. Not everyone is going to get it. 

In case you missed them, here are the other posts in the series. We talked about Stephen King, Wes Craven, George Romero, and R.L Stine.

Quiet Apocalypse is available now for preorder on Smashwords and Amazon.

The end of the world began with a winter storm.

Sadie’s quiet life is interrupted when a tree crushes the roof of her attic apartment. She’s forced to move to a smaller apartment in the building. Then, her aunt guilts her into clearing an ouija board of a particularly irritating spirit. 

But it wasn’t just the roof that was broken by the tree. There was something trapped within the building, waiting. Waiting to wake and bring about the end of the world. 

Not with screams, but with silence. 

Paper Beats World is a labor of love. If you found value in this post, you can buy me a cup of coffee on Ko-fi. 

Horror Subgenres, Part Three

Just in case you missed them, here are links to part one and part two.

Horror of demonic

Some of these subgenres are pretty self-explanatory. Like this one. This subgenre is based on the theory that the world is a dark, dangerous, and scary place. And that it is that way because of demonic beings who want to destroy our very souls. 

Most possession stories would fall squarely into this category, like The Exorcist or The Exorcism of Emily Rose. And of course, Rosemary’s Baby. 

Horror of personality

When I first read about this subgenre, I thought it sounded a lot like a cult of personality. And I wasn’t that surprised to find out I was right.

Horror of personality revolves around one person. They usually don’t have any sort of supernatural abilities or magic. Unless being a psycho is a superpower now.

This is the subgenre in which our serial killers fit. Our crazy cult leaders. So one real fun example of this subgenre is American Horror Story Cult. You can read all about what I thought of that series on Haunted MTL.

Japanese Horror

Japanese storytelling differs from American in many ways. Their horror tends to be more psychological than ours. You’ll find a lot of ghost stories. And, of course, some of the scariest damn urban legends I have ever heard. The amount of screaming, long-haired vengeful spirits these people have is amazing. 

Of course, the most well-known film to come from Japan is Kwaidan. You might know it better from the name of its American adaptation, The Ring.

Jiangshi fiction

I didn’t know this was a thing until I started doing research for this series. And I’m so glad I found out about it! 

This subgenre revolves around reanimated corpses, controlled by Taoist priests. 

That’s right, this is about zombies. Specifically, Chinese zombies. And that is so cool.

I haven’t yet gotten a chance to watch any of these films, but I want to. Some great examples of this subgenre are Spraying water and Demonic Corpses. 

Lovecraftian Horror

See, I told you we’d get to this. 

Lovecraftian horror is about the least cheerful thing you can imagine. It’s based on cosmic dread. A dark, terrifying, Elder God horror that we mere mortals cannot hope to escape from. 

The distinguishing feature of Lovecraftian horror is that there is no escaping the horrific end for the main character. It’s not a situation where you can outsmart the bad death. You didn’t do anything to incite the bad death. It simply came for you, like a force of nature, and took you. And no matter how clever you might be, how good of a person you might be, you’re not getting away.

Surprisingly, Lovecraft Country isn’t actually a Lovecraftian story. If you don’t remember, this book was so good it made it onto my top ten list for 2021.

Some good examples of Lovecraftian horror are 2019’s The Lighthouse. And the absolutely horrific movie, The Mist. 

Macabre 

Macabre is not a form of storytelling, at least not in literal words on the page sort of way. It’s art about death.

It is no surprise that macabre art has been with mankind as long as we’ve been on this earth. Death has always been a mystery, coming with emotions that are too great to contain. And so, it comes out in art. 

You can find examples of Macabre art almost anywhere. But my personal favorite is the collection of bone chandeliers you can find. Not one, but several people in the history of the world thought, “You know what this room needs? Some human bones dangling from the ceiling to hold candles.”

You know what, this is pretty cool. When I die, someone please make me into a chandelier. Read by my light.

That’s it for this installment. I’ll be back soon with part four.

Don’t forget, you can preorder my latest book, Quiet Apocalypse now on Amazon and Smashwords.

The end of the world began with a winter storm.

Sadie’s quiet life is interrupted when a tree crushes the roof of her attic apartment. She’s forced to move to a smaller apartment in the building. Then, her aunt guilts her into clearing an ouija board of a particularly irritating spirit. 

But it wasn’t just the roof that was broken by the tree. There was something trapped within the building, waiting. Waiting to wake and bring about the end of the world. 

Not with screams, but with silence. 

Paper Beats World is a labor of love. If you found something of value in this post, please consider buying me a cup of coffee on Ko-fi.

Horror subgenres, Part Two

Welcome to our series of horror subgenres, part two. We’re taking a look at some of the many flavors that encompass our beloved genre of horror.

If you missed it, here’s part one

Ghost story

Ghost stories are my favorite. I mean, my absolute top-tier favorite. It’s not a hard subgenre to define. Any story that involves a ghost is, duh, a ghost story. 

These come in all sorts of varieties. Haunted house stories, haunted woods. Haunted highways, hospitals, insane asylums. Haunted objects like lockets and music boxes. Even haunted cars. Literally, anything can be haunted. 

Do I even need to give examples of this one? Well, there’s mine, of course, Quiet Apocalypse. House on Haunted Hill, American Horror Story Murder House. Some of the best are urban legends, like the vanishing hitchhiker. 

Then there are the real ghost stories that everyone seems to have. Most people haven’t seen a cryptid or run into a serial killer. But everyone’s got a ghost story.

Giallo

This is an Italian subgenre, named for the color that the covers generally came in. Which is, if you don’t speak Italian, yellow.

A lot of horror from America was translated and put on these yellow covers, including Agatha Christie novels.

These stories tended to be a blend of horror and thriller with a little bit of romance. The cornerstone of this subgenre is that the killer would never be revealed until the last act. 

Some examples of this subgenre are Eye in the Labyrinth and The Girl Who Knew Too Much.

Gothic bluebooks

Okay, this is a little funny and a little sad. And it’s got nothing to do with the comic ‘bluebooks’. Also called shilling shockers or sixpenny shockers, these were full-on plagiarized stories. A sleazy writer would condense a popular novel, telling the whole story in their own less talented words. Then they would sell the result for a fraction of the price. 

As much as I would love to say this is a product of a bygone time, we see the descendants of these works today. Go into any dollar store and you’ll find crates of DVDs that look similar to but aren’t popular films. We used to call them grandma bait because we figured the only people who bought them were grandmothers looking for gifts for their grandkids who didn’t get popular culture.

Grotesquerie 

I thought at first this subgenre was going to be about the goriest of the gory. But that’s not the case. 

This is a term used to describe a blend of sci-fi and horror. It’s dark stuff, that’s got one tentacle in the world of reality while the other seven are waving in the wild. 

Some authors who did well in this subgenre are Ambrose Bierce, Katherine Anne Porter, and H.P Lovecraft.

Dark Fantasy

This is a subgenre that I’ve gone over a lot, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it here. Dark fantasy is anything that takes the fantasy genre and the horror genre and blends them. As I discussed here, this is easily done. Because of course, if there are good and friendly fantasy creatures, then there are horrifying ones as well.

Honestly, how does anyone read old stories about the fai and think they’re our friends?

Witcher is a great example of a recent dark fantasy that was a lot of fun. 

Supernatural fiction

Finally, this is kind of a blanket subgenre that most of the others could easily fit into. It is any horror story that contains a supernatural element. Ghosts, vampires, demons, werewolves. Any cryptid you could imagine.

This subgenre is kind of silly when it can be broken down so much more. But next time we’re going to be digging into some much more complicated stuff. 

See you then.

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How to write a truly creepy Creepypasta

Let me tell you a story.

I used to live in a part of town called The Island. It wasn’t great. It was run down, there was some drug activity. Not a bit of this stopped me and the other kids around there from playing outside, though. We often hung out next to the train tracks, in this long patch of dirty grass. It was actually pretty great. There were the tracks, then a creek on the other side. Not the cleanest of creeks, but any running water is going to attract kids.

I was playing there with my friend Emily one day when we were both around twelve. We were doing all the normal things. Balancing on the tracks, throwing rocks into the water. Basic broke kid shit. 

We saw a guy walking towards us near the tracks. He was kind of between us and the row of houses, or we might have taken off right away. 

The guy was getting closer. He was wearing a dirty pair of jeans and a windbreaker zipped all the way up to his chin. He wasn’t walking in a straight line. It was almost like he was drunk. As he moved closer I could start to smell him. He smelled awful like he hadn’t had a shower in years.

Emily was balancing on the tracks. She was giving the guy a worried look. I wasn’t thrilled about him either. But I figured he’d just walk past us without even noticing. 

Instead, he stopped. “Isn’t it a little cold for you girls to be playing out here?” he asked.

No,” Emily said. It was only about sixty, so this was a strange thing for him to suggest. 

The guy seemed to lean a little closer to us. There was something wrong with his skin. It looked almost like it was hanging off him. Not just old people wrinkles, but like it might actually drip off any second. 

When he spoke again, it didn’t sound like his words were coming from his mouth. More like it was from under his coat.

Not a safe place for kids to be playing alone.”

He leaned closer to Emily. “Does your mom know you’re here?”

“Get away from me!” Emily said. She jumped away from the man but fell. I guess her shoelace must have gotten caught on the track. The man reached down and grabbed her jacket sleeve. She screamed. I shoved him away from her and almost screamed too.

It didn’t feel like touching a person. It was like under that windbreaker there were just pounds and pounds of cold hamburger.

The guy had to pull away. I helped Emily pull her shoe free from the tracks and we ran back to her house. 

We ran inside and slammed the door shut behind us. Her dad was home that day. When we told him what happened, he grabbed his shotgun and went outside. Of course, the guy was long gone.

There was no reason to call the cops. Emily’s dad was sure the guy was just a homeless man and they wouldn’t be able to find him. I would have thought so too, except for one thing.

We never told her dad, because we didn’t think he would believe us. But on Emily’s jacket, where the man had grabbed her, there was a handprint. It looked like the skin from the guy’s hand had come off, and stuck itself to her sleeve. 

The internet is awash with horror stories referred to as Creepypastas. Microfiction and flash fiction stories that almost seem like they could be real. 

Kind of like the one I just told you.

They’re creepy, they’re upsetting. Some are incredibly gory and some are just uncomfortable. Some of them are mistaken for true stories. Some have become beloved characters, like Jeff the Killer or Slenderman. They are today’s modern urban legends, and we love them. I even wrote a Slenderman inspired story once

You can find these sorts of stories all over. There are a few subreddits, including one called R/nosleep. Youtube is littered with videos titled like ‘3 scary Snapchat stories’ or ‘4 home alone stories to make you scream. I even just downloaded an app called Chilling that’s full of them.

Honestly, I cannot get enough of them. And some of them have freaked me out. I especially love Rap Rat.

If you’re interested in writing one of these Creepypasta stories, here’s the advice I have for you. These are tips not only from me as a writer, but from me as someone who has consumed far too many of these things to be healthy.

Keep it just this side of true

In case you haven’t already guessed, my story at the beginning wasn’t a true story. I was never attacked by a rotting man while playing outside as a child. 

I was, however, a broke kid who lived in a bad part of town called the Island. I did play near the train tracks and in the creek with my friends. I did once get my shoelace caught in the tracks. Thankfully, there was no train coming. And once I was approached by a stranger who stood too close to me. Then, talked too long to a preteen girl outside by herself.

It’s this sort of thing that makes these stories so relatable. And relatability is something that you need if you want to scare the hell out of someone. 

Good horror is honest, especially in Creepypastas. So much so that some people don’t quite get the joke. Stories on R/nosleep are often laughed at because they ‘can’t possibly be true. Well of course they aren’t true. No one ever said they were. They’re just written in such a way that they feel like they might be true.

And of course, there’s always a chance that some of them are. We don’t know, do we?

Grammar can fall away a bit

Many of these Creepypasta stories appear to be written by amateurs. The grammar is off. 

Well, that might be on purpose. Generally, the best stories are written in the first person, like you’re telling someone a story. So, since you’re the whole story is narrated from your MC’s pov, you can get away with bad grammar the same way you do while writing dialog. I’m betting you don’t use perfect grammar while talking in the best of circumstances. Neither do I. So why would we when we’re telling someone about a creepy thing that happened one night?

A really scary thing. Something you don’t usually talk about. 

Good storytelling cannot

While often the grammar in a Creepypasta isn’t the greatest, the writing mechanics are still there. Some great examples can be seen on the Youtube Show, Are You Scared? 

All of the other parts of telling a good story are still in play. Foreshadowing, word usage, descriptions, dialog. None of these can be forgotten in any story. No matter how informal the type of story. 

KISS (keep it short, sweetie.)

Finally, Creepypasta stories work best when they’re short. There are some exceptions, like the aforementioned Rap Rat. But most of these stories can be read in under fifteen minutes. 

First off, this is nice because most of us don’t have time for a long story all the time. And while I do love an epic fantasy story, sometimes I need a bit of short-form entertainment during my break. 

More than that, though, a short story doesn’t have as much time to show the zipper on the back of the monster. I wrote a post long ago about brevity being the soul of horror. I don’t want to rehash all of this. Suffice to say that shorter stories have more of a gut punch. And the best Creepypastas are the ones that keep it short. 

Have you tried your hand at a Creepypasta? Let us know in the comments, or leave a link to your story. 

How to start writing dark fantasy

Dark fantasy is certainly having a moment. Shows like Witcher and Wheel of Time, both of which I talked about on Haunted MTL, have gotten more fantasy fans interested in the creepier, more sinister side of the genre. And I love it. Not that I don’t enjoy the lighter side of fantasy. I wrote a whole series that could hardly be considered dark. Honestly, that’s just because I haven’t gotten to it yet. 

Yes, fantasy that is all about magic and adventure and dragon friends is awesome! But there is so much more that we can do with the genre if we’re willing to explore the shadowy side. 

Just in case you’re not sure what I mean by dark fantasy, another great example is the Spiderwick Chronicles. In here we see much of what I’d consider dark fantasy. We see the fai acting with malicious intent. We see dark magic slipping a young woman into a coma. We see characters who are menaced, rather than enchanted, by the fantasy world. There’s a lot more monster-slaying than finding fairy rings, is what I’m saying.

If you want to write some dark fantasy, here are some suggestions.

Details and world-building

A cornerstone of good fantasy is good world-building. And a dark fantasy is no different. But of course, the details of a dark fantasy world are going to be a bit different. We’ll see more danger, of course. More places our characters fear to tread. More people you don’t want to come across. Think of Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. Yes, at the start the children are in a magical place frozen in time. But soon enough they find themselves mucking through dark allies, filled with monsters and men who want nothing more than to crush their heads against the pavement.

Don’t shy away from the gore

Speaking of pavement head crushing, any good horror story is going to have some moments of gore. That’s just a hallmark of the genre. 

I don’t love stories that rely on it. If there’s not an underlying terror, then all the blood and broken bones in the world aren’t going to do more than turn my stomach. But I do expect to see a little bloodshed. 

The best horror is based on reality

Horror that revolves around otherworldly creatures is great. I love a haunted house story, and I love a sentient demonic house even more. But the best horror story is the one that has a basis in real life.

Carrie was about more than a killer prom queen. It was about a young woman bullied at school and suffering abuse at home. Amityville Horror is about a house set on killing its inhabitants. It’s also about a family with money worries. These are things we can relate to, which makes the horror that much more satisfying. 

This can be a little trickier with dark fantasy, which is by definition not based on reality. But remember that characters are people. And people are generally scared by the same things. As Stephen King put it, we’re scared of the Bad Death. That’s pretty well universal, even if you are an elf. 

Anything that can befriend you can also kill you

I’d like to take this moment to point out something in fantasy that has always bothered me. Fairies are often seen as whimsical little friends, who might play a little prank on us from time to time but have our best interests at heart.

If you know anything about fai lore, you know that’s bullshit. They might be befriended, but they’re more likely to steal you away, take your babies, poison you, or otherwise mess up your day. 

The same can be said for mermaids. 

Any creature has a dark side. Any creature can be seen as either benevolent or malevolent. Think of fantasy creatures as dogs. Most of the time they’re our great little companions who sleep at our feet and keep us company while we type blog posts. But under the right circumstances, they’ll take a hand. 

If the good creatures exist, so do the dangerous ones

Finally, there is this. Fantasy creatures we like tend to get a lot of attention. But if they exist in your fantasy world, so do their darker counterparts. So do the banshees, the evil magic users, the werewolves, wendigos and vampires. Light casts a shadow, and you don’t get one without the other. So when creating your fantasy world, remember to write in the shadows as well. 

Fantasy and horror complement each other in many ways. A touch of one can make the other stronger, and often is unavoidable. How much you decide to let the darkness in is, of course, depended on how gruesome you want your fantasy story to be. 

What is your favorite dark fantasy? Let us know in the comments. 

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