The horror writer deals with blood and guts. They're part of the genre in the same way misunderstandings are part of a Hugh Grant film or shoes are in a chick-lit book. It's not a outlandish for me to say one reader's level of acceptation for violence and gore will be different to another's. That doesn't interest me a great deal. What I do find interesting is what a particular reader finds unpleasant.
This ties in to a question that came up on AW a few days ago. Someone asked what elements are essential to a great horror novel. This is my reply to that question:
'Horror is a personal emotion and reaction. What haunts and disturbs one person might not do the same to the next person. There are universal horrors - grief, betrayal, regret - but I think the best writers of horror write about what they find horrific. That comes across in their fiction and the reader picks up on it.'
This got me thinking about what readers find horrific in terms of violence (and let's not forget that violence isn't only physical. Emotional, mental and spiritual violence are all part of horror fiction). Obviously no writer is going to make literally all of their readers squirm simply because all readers have their own comfort zones, but that doesn't stop people like me giving it a good go.
Anyway, what I want to know is what's your level of acceptability for fiction? In all areas of violence, where do you draw the line? And should the horror writer have a line? Or is part of the horror writer's role to find that line and walk right over it?