So, we tried to create an episode of “Meghan and KJ Talk Horror” for you. Unfortunately, we shouldn’t have attempted to do a vlog during Mercury Retrograde. Live and learn. What you CAN see is Meghan performing a card trick and KJ’s WHAT DID SHE JUST DO? face.
One thing you would have learned about the vlog was that KJ decided to be a better person after first watching SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Because Hannibal prefers to eat the uncouth. SAW reiterated this fact. I think I’ve done okay on becoming a good person as I recently got this text: “You’ll be fine. Michael Myers only kills the bad kids.” I’m not entirely sure I buy that logic, but as I’m also unrelated to Michael Myers, I think it works.
Meghan, what horror movie affected you the most?
MS: In the limited number I’ve seen, I’d say it was LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. It’s terrifying, but it has this edge of innocence that I found fascinating. Throughout the film, Eli keeps saying “I’m not a girl,” and I, like Oskar in the film, assumes she means she’s not a girl because she’s a vampire. There’s a secret revealed in a flashback that makes us understand what Eli means. Those deeply emotional scenes interspersed with violence and bloodshed made me reconsider what horror could mean.
KJ: We talked more real life horror, and our Halloween plans for this year. KJ lit a candle for her ancestors on Day of the Dead. Meghan went to a ghost tour – and had some spine tingling events happen.
MS: Yes! I went on the Roswell Ghost Tour for the second time. Last year, one of our group caught a face in the door of Creepy House. Creepy House is the second to last stop on the tour. You walk past an abandoned restaurant, through the parking lot, some woods, and Creepy House springs up in the middle of nothing. I was brave enough to walk up the porch this year and the interior had been partially renovated. Honestly, just walking up to it make me sick. The house is unsellable. In fact, if you rent said abandoned restaraunt, they throw in Creepy House for free.
However, Creepy House was NOT the strangest part of the tour. Bullock Hall is the first stop, a giant mansion now home to a museum and two dead slave children. The girl is known to mess with the lights in the house because she was in charge of lighting when she was alive. She disappeared and several days later they found her in the well out back. The guide noted, as she did last year, that sometimes scratching and screams are heard from the well.
As we were walking down the drive toward the next stop, I heard her scream. It was definitely female, childish, and muffled. Only one other person heard it.
KJ: I’ve only ever seen one ghost child – and I didn’t realize she was a ghost at first. My middle school was rumored to be on old Native American land – which honestly, the whole county probably was. I’d never noticed anything even remotely strange until they started renovations. My mother worked at the school, so pre-teen KJ got to stay late whenever there was any sort of teacher’s meetings and amuse herself on the internet. (High speed internet, y’all! It was dialup everywhere else.) I saw something out of the corner of my eye, and spun in my chair. A girl of about six was standing in the doorway – I don’t think I’ll ever forget her image. Porcelain skin with faint freckling, cornflower blonde hair in braids, and an adorable blue and white gingham dress. I introduced myself and asked who she was, while she just stared at me silently. I’m staring back at her wondering why she’s not talking…when I realize I can see through her. For whatever reason, pre-teen KJ is way cooler about this than current KJ is, and simply calmly watches her fade away.
Current KJ would probably say “OH HELL NO” and consider bolting out the door. Her coworker from the haunted office would agree as she’d get text messages of “Was that large bang you or should I stay in my office clearly behind my line of black salt?” For reference, she usually told me to stay in my safe office. And once she brought me holy water.
KJ: I can’t remember the first horror novel I ever read. The first that ever made me want to write was R.L. Stine’s Fear Street Saga. Cheesy, right?
Even cheesier – I once had a necklace inspired by the necklace on this Fear Street saga custom-made for me, but it came out atrociously. I still vie for this necklace. One day, it’ll be mine.
Stephen King probably impacted my writing the most, as his books were the first time that I became legitimately terrified from words. It was the first time I’d seen the power that you could create with fiction, the impact that you could create. I think that was the first time I saw horror as a legitimate genre, and not something to be guilty about. I’ll admit though – to this day I still consider my campy horror reads a guilty pleasure.
MS: There was actually a VERY long period of time when I wanted nothing to do with horror. I remember being told I couldn’t watch AHHHH! REAL MONSTERS because it gave me nightmares. Chucky scared the hell out of me when I was 5. I distinctly remember being afraid of the horror section in my school’s library though I don’t know why. When I checked out scary stories, I’d leave the books facedown on my desk so they couldn’t see me.
The first horror book I remember reading was On A Dark, Dark Night, and “The Green Ribbon” became my obsession. I picked it back up a few years ago and discovered there was a fashion trend in France in the 18th century know as a la victime, or “of the victim.” Ladies of the aristocracy would wear a thin red ribbon around their necks mocking a guillotine slice.
Naturally, I wrote a short story about it.
The book that impacted my writing the most is HEARTSICK by Chelsea Cain. Badass. Female. Serial Killer. I guess it’s not technically “horror,” but there are some dark, twisted things going on and I loved every minute of it.
KJ: I think I originally watched more horror movies than I read horror novels. It was weird to me when horror movies became suddenly mainstream. I boycotted CABIN FEVER for months because of how popular it became. I didn’t trust it to be good. I wasn’t impressed on my first watch, but I do find it interesting that the shock value scene of the movie did still stick with me – and we’re back to that tie in of sex and death. I can’t remember a particular scene from a horror novel that’s stuck me with me as vividly, which is odd as I’m a really visual reader.
Interestingly enough, I shy away from writing solely horror in the demographic that I write the most – young adult. I’ll incorporate touches of horror into my works, but I wouldn’t dare – at least at this point – try a full on horror novel, because they don’t really exist in the YA world in the way that I think about horror, and I’m unsure how to approach that.
What do you think defines horror as horror? Is it just the feelings it evokes? The way it haunts you later? Do specific things have to happen?
MS: As a so-called “horror writer,” I really struggle (especially in Queryland) with how people separate Horror and Thriller. I think they’re interchangeable most of the time, but Horror invokes a sense of something supernatural or paranormal. Horror needs something bigger than just everyday fear. Horror is when something completely throws you off guard, whether it comes from ghosts or demons, or what people can do to each other.
I hate being scared. Those “What’s Wrong with this Picture”-suddenly Regan pops up and screams tricks terrify me. I won’t click links unless I know where they’re going. What I DO like when reading or watching is that psychological element. If you push someone far enough into terror, what will they do?
My favorite aspects of reading and writing horror are those moments when everything is so surreal, you wonder how you got there. And once you know, you can never go back to the way things were.
Once you’re haunted, you’re always haunted.
Thank you again to Kristen for blogging with me! It’s been so much fun, but it’s not over yet, readers. Catch up with our stories in the DARK CARNIVAL anthology on PenandMuse.com:
Don’t forget to follow Kristen on Twitter @KristenJett. Happy hauntings!