A Plateful of Horror
Our guest today is Douglas Maxwell Myer from Worcester, MA. He is a writer that has released 3 short horror stories and 2 horror poems for the Independent Author site called Scriggler.com.
“It Crept In Slowly” is an interesting title, what inspires you in horror themed stories and poetry?
Whatever kind of events that are happening in the country, whether it is present or past, are certainly inspiring factors that have made their way into the stories I have written which end up getting filtered through my own imagination and perceptions. Though the world definitely has many beautiful qualities that does not always get fully incorporated into a work of written fiction, there are many horrors as well which come about in everyday life. There are fears of war, fear of someone murdering you, fear of being stricken by a deadly illness, fear of getting in a car accident, fear of a loved one leaving you, fear of losing your job, and even fears of not finding a group of people that you belong to. These horrors can be described directly or metaphorically as a monster in any kind of scary narrative.
The title of a story is an essential aspect for people to get interested in something that you’ve written. Great titles give you a brief summary of what you’re about to read but also leaves out enough information to induce someone to find out more with what happens in a particular tale. If you pick up a book that’s called “The Haunted House” we already know that a couple of people died there and will bring about frights to whoever goes into the house. But if you take a title like you mentioned with one of mine “It Crept In Slowly” someone could ask what crept in slowly? What is it creeping toward? And that can provoke you to read more. It can be a great challenge to do that and you can’t always come up with that awe inspiring title for every project you work on, but I do get a good sense of pride whenever I’m able to write out an interesting title such as “It Crept In Slowly” or “Sparkly Sight”.
Which is the most horrifying sentence you’ve ever read?
Would a rejection note from an agent count? Ha, though seriously it is very tough to choose one particular amazingly scary and very memorable sentence from a writer. But if I had to choose one and help answer your question I would go with the line in Halloween when Dr. Loomis describes to the sheriff when he first met Michael Myers. “I met this six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and… the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes.” John Carpenter unraveled the essence of evil and also the essence of horror when he wrote that sentence. It’s something you can write down that will haunt you for life.
What is the sensation that people who loves horror stories seek?
There’s an intriguing sensation of the darker aspects of human nature that come about in horror stories. Though we’re raised to be good moral beings corruption and violence still exists in our society never the less. Part of us are drawn to those horrors even if we know that it’s bad.
How do you achieve this horror effect in your stories?
In the first installment I wrote for “A Plateful of Horror” series called “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater”, Peter’s wife just throws one insult after another at him throughout the story until he finally looses it and kills her. I’m sure everybody at one point in their life had come across someone who they wished were dead or even wanted to kill over their frustration with them. Horror stories cling onto those dark guilty pleasures which are deep down inside us and that’s what I think makes the genre so appealing to many.
What are the essentials to make fictional stories horrifying?
One of the biggest essentials to make any story horrifying is when you invade the audience’s line of safety. The prime example that would explain what I mean is when I first watched George Romero’s “Night of The Living Dead” when I was around four or five years old. In the beginning of the film when the zombie is chasing Barbara she locks herself in the car to get away from him. I as an audience member thought to myself, wow thank god she’s safe, and then the zombie just takes a rock and smashes it through the window.
When she arrives at our supposed safe zone in the house it is complete with a dead body that is upstairs, layers of rotting wooden boards that Ben put up to block the windows, and Harry Cooper constantly nagging everyone to go down a dark scary cellar. Once all the zombies break into the house the little girl Karen becomes a zombie as well and kills her own mother with a garden trowel. The movie goes on like that with no safe place for you to turn even in the end as morning rises and it appears Ben will live being the last survivor from this house as he surfaces out from the cellar then gets shot in the head by a zombie hunter. It completely turned me upside down as I sat there listening to that ever so eerie music playing at the ending credits and that’s why “Night of The Living Dead” still reigns as one of the greatest achievements ever made in the horror genre.
When was the first time you ever felt horrified? What happened, or was it something you seen or read about?
At about four or five years old I was learning to ride my bike and my dad took me to the nearby cemetery for some practice. I still wasn’t all too familiar with the whole brake concept and went down a steep hill (steep for a little kid) that also had a sharp curve. Going down the hill was a bit too much for me and ended up not turning along with curve but went riding through the grass. My dad was telling me to brake but I was just screaming and was horrified at the sight of approaching a large tree. I went flying off a hill, luckily missed the big tree, and landed in a ditch. I find it funny now looking back at it but during the time it was really horrifying and was one my early frightful experiences.
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