Horror narratives are an integral part of our human history. Folktales have dark tendrils that go back for centuries. The Ancient Greeks created gods out of fear and terror. Every culture has a bogeyman, a gashadokuro, a strigoi. From the oral storytelling of the past to the modern day campfire tale, scary stories are everywhere.
Even epic tales of glorious deeds would be nothing without that undercurrent of fear. Remove the ringwraiths from The Lord of the Rings and half the tension immediately falls away. Without a White Witch to face, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is just a tale of talking animals. And A Game of Thrones without the White Walkers is simply a rather bloody story of political intrigue.
In literature, horror fiction harks back to eighteenth century works such as The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, with nineteenth century gothic novels like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula cementing the genre. By the late 1800’s, horror had already hit the (silent) screen, and horror as a film and TV genre is still wildly popular today.
But what does it take to write a good horror tale? It’s not enough to just throw in a few monsters and things that go bump in the night and hope they’ll do the job. Crafting a good scary story – one that gets under your skin and keeps you awake at night – is an art. My two guests are experts in that creep factor, and they’re here to point your ghosts and ghouls in the right direction.
Gwendolyn Kiste is a speculative fiction author whose work has appeared in a wide range of publications. Her short story collection And Her Smile Untether The Universe was a finalist in the 2018 Bran Stoker awards. She is the author of Pretty Marys All In A Row, a dark fantasy novella (Broken Eye Books, 2017) and her upcoming novel debut, The Rust Maidens (JournalStone, 2018).
Scarlett R. Algee writes speculative fiction and designs steampunk jewelry. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, including Morpheus Tales, Sirens Call, and Zen of the Dead. She is currently a submissions reader and chapbook editor for Sanitarium Magazine. Her stories can be found in several anthologies such as The Haunting of Lake Manor Hotel (Woodbridge Press, 2016).