In this section we pose a single question to a bunch of spooky authors and we don’t let them leave until they answer. Today, that question is…
We’ve all experienced that horror book or film before we should have. Crept downstairs to watch a late night showing of Texas Chainsaw Massacre whilst your parents were asleep, or nabbed that copy of Clive Barker’s grisliest from your Mam’s bookcase. So tell us, fearless, spooky author, which piece of horror did you experience before you should have, and what was its effect on you?
In Indonesia, they used to play horror movies at 8 AM on Saturday mornings, so I watched a lot of horror before I could handle how scared it made me (when I was 8 or so). My mother would chastise me for scaring myself so bad I couldn’t sleep, but she never stopped me. And she also didn’t stop me from watching A Clockwork Orange with the rest of the family when I was 11. I was a very imaginative kid, and fortunately what I took from all this was how to regulate my fear and ground myself in my reality so I could continue to watch horror without getting overwhelmed. Otherwise I probably would have quit the genre!
Nadia Bulkin, author of She Said Destroy
Had to pick a lock in my father’s bookcase to reach The Shining, along with a handful of Barkers and a Yarbro. I’m not sure what The Shining’s effect was on me, but I can definitely still pick a lock.
Alex Woodroe, author, editor of In Somnio: A Collection of Modern Gothic Horror
The first book was James Herbert’s The Rats. I read it far too young, as it was just sitting there on my dad’s bookshelf. I didn’t really understand much of the internal stress, but the claustrophobia of the situation really riled me. In terms of TV and film, it was probably Ghostwatch. My dad had been bringing home horror movies, such as The Howling, The Omen and others from my early childhood, and while those films had a certain dread and terror to them, the young, naïve me really thought Ghostwatch was real. So, when things all began to veer south at the end, I was convinced Michael Parkinson had been possessed. Ha!
Kev Harrison, author of Below and The Balance.
I have two older sisters who seemed to enjoy showing me films I was way too young for, and parents who worked nights, a potent combination. Although I saw a lot of different horror films, it was the Nightmare on Elm Street films that really hit me. To this day, Freddy is the only horror monster I’ve had nightmares about. Which seems appropriate.
Matthew Stott, author of A Monstrous Place.
When I was probably 5, my sister and I were supposed to be watching the movie Trolls, but the VHS had no labels, supposedly recorded off TV by a parent’s co-worker. We kind of just went with whatever went into the VCR by parental hand, who then walked away. Unfortunately it was NOT Trolls. It was The Unnamable, a hard R-rated movie with gory deaths and sex and so on, based on a Lovecraft story. We didn’t know what to do as this unfolded, so we sat there staring for about half an hour before adults came in the room, realized this was the wrong movie, and shut it off. I think nightmares went on for a week. It was a while longer before I watched another adult horror film.
Hailey Piper author of Queen of Teeth and The Worm and His Kings.
My parents took me to see Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre when it came out with no idea what they were in for. I was confused & disturbed by the violent sexual content at 8 years old. I think it did plant a seed because I’m still very much drawn to that combo.
Leza Cantoral runs indie press Clash Books and dark lit mag Black Telephone.
Poltergeist. I was four and though I adore it now, it scared the crap out of me then. Every doll, every giant tree, and every closet was a potential threat. And If I’m being honest, they still are.
Vivian R. Kasley Writer/Reader/Horror fanatic/Certified Heathen.
When I was around 10 years old, I crept behind my parents after they sent me to bed and watched Sleepy Hollow with Johnny Depp. Unfortunately for me, I entered the scene the moment one of the character’s heads was chopped off by the Headless Horseman and cried myself to sleep for weeks after. Horror became a huge obstacle in my life that I wanted to overcome. I grew obsessed with conquering the fear I got from the screen or tales or books and wanted to manipulate that fear with my own hands. Eventually, horror morphed itself into a demon on my shoulder that I fell in love with and here I am, using that same demon to create art!
Mona Kabbani, author of The Bell Chime and Vanilla.