Horror: Defining a Genre by Alex Laybourne

What is Horror? Is it a genre on its own merit or merely a sub-genre? This was a question that I saw posed in writers group that I follow online. Obviously, this got me thinking.

I am a horror writer. If people ask me what I write, what genre my books fall under, then that is what I (used to) tell them. Yet I am now, more than ever before convinced that this is really a small deception on my part, and one that ultimately works to my deficit.

The best answer I heard in this online discussion was

Fantasy is a superset of which horror and SF are subsets. SF is what might be, horror is what must not be, fantasy is what seemingly could not be.

I love this description, and while it was not the final answer or offering, it was my favorite.

At the time of reading this, I was staring at my then unfinished manuscript, the first novel of the trilogy was done, unfinished only in terms of editing. However, the remaining two novels were disjointed. I had each act planned out; however I was missing something to tie them all together. I had been lost for months. Then I stumbled onto the above conversation and overnight my problems were solved.

I stopped thinking of myself as just a horror writer, but moved myself up a level into the superset itself. I was a fantasy writer. I had never even thought of it before, but there is was. The link I was missing was simple something I was ignoring. By limiting myself to a subgenre I was reducing not only my ultimate sales option and angles, but also my own growth as a writer. Within a matter of hours I had outlined the movement of my characters from one scene to the next simple by opening my mind and creating a fantasy element that I could easily place over the horror context without disrupting the overall tone of the novel.

If we think about it, there is no horror with fantasy, and there is no fantasy without horror. It is in our mind that the greatest horrors live, and without fantasy we cannot hope to unlock these dark corridors of the mind. People often tell me that they do not like reading horror stories because they do not like being scared. What I think is that they avoid reading horror because they are scared that they will like it.

Horror is designed to scare people, and yes at times repulse them. If anybody has read the Stephen King short story about the drug dealing doctor injured and alone on a small island will understand where I am coming from there. Horror is dark and it is there to make people feel uneasy. If it wasn’t then there would be no need to break the fantasy superset down. While it could exist on its own merit, I would be hard pushed to recall a horror novel that I have read recently which does not have fantasy elements somewhere. Mr. King himself is a big fan of Tolkien and H.P Lovecraft, and if his Cthulhu mythology doesn’t include fantasy then I do not know what does.

There are a great many real horrors in the world, and more often than not the real monsters are so extreme no reader would accept them, but that is a post for another day.

Author Bio:

Horror writer Alex Laybourne was born in the UK but relocated to The Netherlands to be with his wife. Together they have three wonderful children who despite their young age are showing all the signs of following in their father’s creative footsteps.

Alex’s debut novel Highway to Hell is a 96.000 word horror novel and the first in a trilogy that will take readers on a journey not just into hell, but through it.

Highway to Hell can be found on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.de, and for all non-kindle readers via Smashwords.com for just $2.99. You can also download a free sample of the novel at all of the above sites.

Alex is always interested in making new friends both readers and writers alike. You can find him at most hours of the waking day on Twitter under the name @vanplank or on his blog www.alexlaybourne.com

Book Blurb

Heaven and Hell, Angel and Demons, these things were once considered opposites, but now you will see that they are neighbors, allies…. friends.

Marcus, Becky, Richard, Helen, Sammy and Graham. All complete strangers, different ages, backgrounds and even countries, but they all have one major thing in common…They all must DIE.

Sentenced to offer their penance in the many chambers of Hell, their lives are nothing but a torturous experience. They are brought face to face with their past, their mistakes and the implications that had for others. Until one by one they are rescued and thrown together. Waking in a dying world, they are introduced to their rescuers who do anything but conform to their angelic stereotype.

Together, bonded by an unknown destiny the group is set on their quest; to find one individual buried deep within the many Hell worlds. Not only does the fate of their world rest on their shoulders, but that of existence itself.

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About jlwylie

Stay at home mom of 2 boys, avid reader and writer. Published by Untold Press

2 thoughts on “Horror: Defining a Genre by Alex Laybourne

  1. Angela K Roe says:

    I hadn’t thought of horror and fantasy as going hand-in-hand but it makes perfect sense, doens’t it? I enjoyed reading this post and I enjoyed seeing you with your kids. Well done.

    • Thank you for reading. I had always seen the link but simply thought of them as two genres that had some common themes, but then I stumbled onto the conversation that this post was based on and it all just made much more sense.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. It is most appreciated.

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