I'm very proud to welcome Kayleigh Edwards to Ginger Nuts of Horror. Kayleigh will be joining Kit, Paul and Charlotte's excellent contributions to the site. So please say hello to Kayleigh in the comment section of her debut article.
So why horror, I hear you ask? It’s a question I’ve been asked countless times, and I’m sure every horror writer on the planet has heard it just as much as I have. I’ve thought long and hard about the answer to this, a little perplexed myself. Was it a book or a film that first reeled me in, and if so, which one? Which singular piece of art could possibly be responsible for introducing me to a world in which I would become completely obsessed?
Then I realised – I was obsessed long before my first literary or filmic experience. It was the secret that first lured me in. You see, like many of you I’m sure, I wasn’t allowed to watch scary films. Now and then, whilst flicking through the TV channels, my mum would stop on something, look at me, and then depending on the time, either reluctantly switch to something else, or send me to bed.
“You’re too young,” she’d insist.
“This is too scary for you.”
Too scary for moi? Did she not know who I was? Was she not aware that she had once taken me to the circus and I’d experienced true horror (oh yes, of course there were clowns) right there in the flesh? What could possibly be scarier than that?
It was then that I noticed that she kept all of her Stephen King books on a shelf too high for me to reach, and as I gazed up at those hardbacks, King became my Everest.
After much whining, attempted thievery of said books, and many attempts to sneak out of bed to watch the sci-fi channel at 3am, she finally caved and bought me my first horror story – Christopher Pike’s Monster.
The story begins with a teenage girl bursting into a party with a gun, targeting specific people, and shooting them to death. I was immediately captivated; the blood, the gore, the mystery. Why would she do such a thing? Well, she claimed that they were monsters. Of course, no one believed her. That was it for me – I could totally relate. After all, how many times had I complained about the ghost I was certain dwelled in my bedroom, or those scary noises I heard at night? No one ever believed me because I was a kid. I went from being too scared to sleep (on account of that pesky ghost), to thriving on that adrenaline as I sneakily read by torch light under the duvet. Suddenly, my creepy bedroom wasn’t so scary, but if I wanted to be terrorized, and for some reason I so often did, I always had my book!
At the ripe old age of 9, we were told to take our favourite book to class, so naturally, I waltzed in with Bram Stoker’s Dracula (in her mission to steer me from King I think my dearest mother dropped the ball on that one). My teacher shot me the same look my mum gave me when those films I couldn’t watch cropped up, and asked what I thought of the book. Well, I told him, I was furious. I was furious on behalf of Dracula’s wives; whilst Dracula was out gallivanting each night and nibbling on unsuspecting humans, those poor brides were cooped up in the castle! And how very selfish, I thought, of Dracula, to then give them a hard time for trying to have a bite of Jonathon (of course, those sexual tones went right over my head at that age). Maybe the wives were bored, maybe they should be allowed out to bite the Lucy’s and Mina’s of the world too? And what kind of husband who was greedy enough to have three wives stayed out at all hours and didn’t let them have any fun, anyway? It was a travesty! He probably didn’t even let them read the Stephen King books or watch the sci-fi channel at 3am either…. I was on their side. To hell with Jonathon and Mina, I wanted to know what happened to the brides. I think my poor teacher was taken aback, to be honest.
From that age on I just could not get enough of horror stories. My mum signed me up at the library and I worked my way through every age-appropriate horror story available, ten books at a time, for every three week period I was allowed to keep the books for. I progressed to H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, stumbled across Richard Matheson and Anne Rice, and just got lost. Like Alice, I fell down the rabbit hole, but unlike her, I’ve never wanted to wake up from the nightmare.