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Friday, October 21, 2022

31 Days of Horror: Day 21-- Why I Love Horror by L. Marie Wood

Today I welcome L. Marie Wood to the Why I Love Horror family. Not only is she an amazing writer, but Wood is also a valued HWA volunteer. She is someone the HWA can rely on to do the important duties, things that have no glory, but without which we cannot function. Here is but one small example, Wood chaired our Election committee this year.

But here's the thing, she is also a great writer, one I wish was on the self in more libraries. I am trying to fix that today but handing the blog over to her.

First, a bit more about Wood herself.

L. Marie Wood is an award-winning dark fiction author, screenwriter, and poet with novels in the psychological horror, mystery, and dark romance genres. She won the Golden Stake Award for her novel The Promise Keeper. She is a MICO Award nominated screenwriter and has won Best Horror, Best Action, Best Afrofuturism/Horror/Sci-Fi, and Best Short Screenplay awards in both national and international film festivals. Wood’s short fiction has been published in groundbreaking works, including the Bram Stoker Award Finalist anthology, Sycorax's Daughters and Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire. Wood is the founder of the Speculative Fiction Academy, an English and Creative Writing professor, and a horror scholar. Learn more about L. Marie Wood at

Now, L. Marie Wood on why she loves Horror.

Why I Love Horror 

Horror is everything. 

Give me a minute – I can explain. 

Horror is the thing that goes bump in the dark, sure, but it is also so many other things – things you might not readily associate with it. For example, horror is self-expression; horror is an identity; horror is reality… 

Horror is

Horror is that tingle at the base of the spine, the dropping of the stomach, the prickle at the back of the neck when one realizes they forgot to study for an exam, to prepare slides for a presentation, to pick up the kids from school the teacher is handing out test papers now, everyone in the meeting is staring, eyes fixed in anticipation now… it’s dark now. Horror is romance and horror is loss. Horror is birth and death and everything in between. Horror is what you need and what you make it at the same time. 

One could argue that fear is what was described above, and by definition, that would be true – fear of the thing as opposed to horror in the aftermath of it – but the semantics of the concept are not being debated here. What is up for debate is genre and what it brings to the table… what it allows the creator to express and the consumer to feel. Horror has long been considered the genre for social commentary. Consider the message around hyper-consumerism in George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, the commentary on classism in Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, and the ageism addressed in X. Whether on film on or the page, horror is a safe space for creators to tackle the tough topics in the world, lay them bare, and pick through them with sharpened talons. It is unique in that it holds up a mirror to those willing to look, reflecting truths that are inescapable, even if a vampire or zombie is employed to do the deed. 

And that’s just one subgenre. 

Psychological horror brings mental health to the fore, challenging readers to unravel mysteries that could either be supernatural or from a place within a character’s mind. Body horror goes the opposite route, contorting and tattooing the body to express the thing feared. And there’s more – so much more to the genre whose overarching goal is to bring emotion. With almost 30 subgenres ranging from quiet to in your face, readers can choose their horror based upon their mood and enjoy the escapism that comes with it… to enjoy the freedom

Horror is everything… 

…and everything is horror. One need only turn on the morning news to find the truth in that statement. Its all-encompassing reach is why I love it, though, why I write it and have done so for over 40 years. It is why I turn to it when I want to decompress, when I want to be thrilled, when I want to feel deeply. I found a kinship with Anne Rice and her approach to spinning a yarn. Her voice in combination with Ira Levin’s familiar charm and Stephen King’s sideways view of the world showed me that it was ok to think the way that I did and tell the stories I tell. And once I got started, I never stopped. There are so many practitioners to choose from – so many people who do it right – that it would be impossible to name them all. I’ll say this: sample all of the voices. Try Tananarive Due, RJ Joseph, Nicole Given Kurtz, John Lawson. Check out Gabino Iglesias, Clive Barker, Rena Mason, Brian Keene. Figure out whether or not you like visceral horror or quiet horror, horror comedy or dark romance. Find horror poetry and discover the haunting voice of Linda Addison. Select short stories and fall into the satisfying rhythm set by Steven Van Patten. Come my way and enjoy psychological horror that can be as quiet as it is impactful. Read widely. Watch broadly. Consume. You’ll be glad you did. 

 L. Marie Wood

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