Am I Odd?
S P Oldham
Am I odd? I know it is something of a leading question, and that I am potentially opening myself to all sorts of abuse here, but setting aside those keyboard warrior wannabes who like nothing more than to bring people down, from behind the safety, anonymity and distance of a computer monitor, it is a genuine question: am I odd?
Why am I asking? Well, because of this. I have read horror since I was around 12 years old or so, possibly younger, helping myself to my dad's books, in hindsight probably without his knowledge and certainly without my parents' consent. I started out reading a variety of authors, some whose names I forget (shame on me) and others who could perhaps be considered more notable, such as Dean Koontz, James Herbert and Stephen King. King has been a lasting reading pleasure for me and in my view is the best author in the horror genre, though I am always open to new suggestions should anyone know of other worthy horror authors. By all means let me know in the comments.
But, back to the question. Now, I have read numerous horror stories over the years. I have written a fair few too, and in recent years have tried my hand at this Independent Publishing malarkey - talk about a learning curve. I have always had an extremely vivid, probably overactive imagination. Since early childhood I can recall watching entire scenes play out behind my eyes, whether asleep or awake. As an author, this can be both a blessing and a curse, but that is not the point I am trying to make here. No, what I am trying to convey, is the fact that there is very often a full length story, complete with dialogue, playing out in my mind. It is often of a dark, supernatural or horror nature.
So here's the rub: I cannot watch horror on screen. I cannot even watch graphic violence as depicted in films, nor am I comfortable with what most people would call moderate violence. It makes me physically uncomfortable and emotionally distraught. It has a huge effect on me. Try as I might, I cannot watch horror films. End of.
So does this make me weird? I have thought about this long and hard and my theory goes thus: I already have clear, detailed, vivid imagery going on in my mind. Seeing it on screen as well is 'gilding the lily,' for want of a better phrase. It is overloading that particular sensory capability. Whilst writing it is cathartic, getting it out of my mind and onto the page, or screen as the case may be, watching it has the opposite effect: instead of releasing it, I am absorbing it, and it becomes too much. Perhaps I am over sensitive, perhaps a psychologist would have a field day with this. Who knows?
I am willing to bet though, that I am not the only one out there like this. I bet there are others who can get to grips with the meatiest of horror scenes in a book, but wouldn't dream of watching one on screen. Is that you? Do you share my tastes in this, or do you have other thoughts on the matter? I would genuinely like to discuss this with horror/supernatural/dark fiction lovers, authors and readers alike. What are your thoughts? Go on, do your worst...