6 Questions with the winner of our 2015 Halloween Horror Flash Fiction Contest, Lee Harrison.
1. Horror is my favorite genre both to read and write, but it’s also the most difficult for me. What advice do you have for writing good horror?
A good horror story works because it activates something deep in people’s psyche or their subconscious. It touches on some primitive fear and exploits it for maximum gain — fears like being watched or stalked. When writing horror, I try to make it as realistic as possible. A story about a werewolf tearing through a city is all good but the reader can put it down and know there’s no such thing (probably!) whereas a good horror story makes you want to turn the light on as you’re reading it, just to check out that noise or that shadow.
2. Who do you consider some of the best horror writers, both historically and presently?
Writers like Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker among others really demonstrated the art to a great scary story and you have to look to them as, historically, the ones who made the genre what it is. Oh, and Richard Matheson! Presently, writers like Stephen King, Brian Keene and Ramsey Campbell have taken the macabre to new, horrifying places, revitalising genres and pushing the envelope.
3. What horror movies you do enjoy as a writer?
Without a doubt, the first two Hellraiser films are up there as modern classical examples of perfect horror. I also loved, from a narrative and atmospheric sense, Woman in Black too. The build-up and characterisation set the tone excellently for the finale.
4. What about as a fan?
Say what you will about the quality of the later sequels but, as a fan of horror, A Nightmare on Elm Street was perhaps the first film that hooked me onto the genre. I used to go to Blockbusters when I was young and just look at the front and back covers of the video cases to the sequels, fascinated by the artwork.
5. Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, or Leatherface?
Me and my wife Irene both love Freddy Krueger. Although he grew slightly more cartoonish as the series went on, the Tina death scene in the first film still stands out as far better than most of the cheap scare thrills offered today. And the twist in reality and the character for New Nightmare was awesome!
6. Why is Halloween so awesome?
It’s a time when we confront the things that lurk in the shadows. For one day a year, gore and other dimensions with their unspeakable inhabitants are embraced. Our darkest fears are allowed to play out, with us as willing participants to their acts and our imaginations are encouraged to run free, unshackled, into hidden realms. That and, if we’re honest, all the best movies are shown. So grab your cushion, turn off the lights and see if you can survive till dawn! And keep an eye on the shadows…