It is day 10 of Horror Month and I have the wonderful Peadar on my blog today with a guest post! He has recently written a book called The Call which, in my opinion, is the perfect book for Halloween! It is super creepy and very intense, it will have you gripped from the beginning and making you hope that you don't get the call.
The pleasures of horror
Fear is such a negative emotion, so why do millions of us read in order to experience it? I don't doubt that an army of psychologists are standing by, ready to answer that question in great detail, right down to the last delicious shiver... But I'm more metaphorically than scientifically minded, so what I think of when I ponder the subject of fear, is that first time I took a rollercoaster ride.
Flying down a near vertical slope, my body was screaming, "You're falling, you're falling, you're DYING!" while my stomach dropped two storeys and my heart butted against my ribcage, desperate to escape... And then, the elation at the end, grinning at my friend, hiding the wobble in my knees. I had stood firm against the worst that death could throw at me and come through it stronger than ever.
I was in no danger, of course. But that too is part of it.
Imagine winter -- it won't be long now! As I snuggle into bed, sleet will pound the windows just a metre from my face. Wind will snap the trees like a whip, and I, Peadar Ó Guilín will feel warmer and happier than ever I would on a quiet night. The contrast is what makes me cozy, what makes me thankful for my comforts when others are bent double to push through the storm. This is why I enjoy horror, I think. The fact that the danger is near, but trapped behind the walls of my house or bound into the pages of a good book that I turn only when ready for them.
And yet, not everybody feels this particular thrill as pleasure. And there are vast differences in the degrees of horror that readers can tolerate.
I liken it to chili. You taste it when you're young and it's burny and unpleasant. But pretty soon, tolerance builds, and soon, you reach a point when everything seems limp and dull without it. And then the day comes when you cook a curry for your friend with so little spice you can barely detect it, and yet, it sends her running to drink directly from the nearest fire hydrant.
"Oh," you think. "My level is not her level..."
My new novel, The Call, has appalled some people, leading them to argue that the young shouldn't read it, being too delicate and all... And yet, no word of a lie, when I wrote it, I considered it quite mild and felt I was holding back. Clearly I've been loading up on the chili to the point that I'm out of touch.
The strange thing, though, is that the vast majority of complaints about the horror have come from older readers. It's as if, rather than building a tolerance to fear, they are starting to lose it again as they age.
Maybe there's a psychologist out there who could explain this to me? Feel free. I'll be here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
PEADAR O’GUILIN is a powerful and original new voice in YA Fiction but has been writing curious stories for as long as he can remember. He attended the same boarding school as James Joyce in Co. Kildare and since then, he has written plays, published short stories, and performed as a stand-up comedian.
Language, landscape and the history of ancient Ireland are important themes for Peadar and after brief forays living in Milan and Venice he returned to his native Ireland and now lives just outside Dublin.
What if you only had 3 minutes to save your own life and the clock is already counting down...Three minutes. Nessa, Megan and Anto know that any day now they wake up alone in a horrible land and realise they've been Called. Two minutes. Like all teenagers they know that they'll be hunted down and despite all their training only 1 in 10 will survive. One minute. And Nessa can't run, her polio twisted legs mean she'll never survive her Call will she? Time's up.