In my last blog post, I made noises about horror being a wide genre with plenty of areas for the writer to explore in their fiction. This is something I've been thinking about quite a bit recently due to a couple of things, one of which is realising I haven't been sticking to purely supernatural horror in my longer work for a while. Hometown involves ghosts and other worlds that are probably best summed up as the underside of our own; Ascent features time freezing so something that shall not be named can torment and hunt a group of people; and Die Laughing is full of ghosts, zombies, demons, killers and all round nastiness that my mum wouldn't like. These are the areas and factors in horror that I love, but they are not all of horror. Not by a long shot.
I have a finished novel I hope to one day sell which I thought was a horror story until a few people who read it pointed out it's more crime than out and out horror. If you pushed me, I'd call it a horror/crime story but it's not as if a nobody such as yours truly has the luxury of pitching a hybrid to publishers or agents. They want tales that can be classified so they know what to tell their editors, and readers want to know where to look for it in the bookshops (well, Amazon). Even so, in my secret heart, I think of that one as a horror that involves a criminal investigation, murder and the police. The horror is in what's happening to the victims and the character who can't face the fact he knows more about the crimes than he can deal with. But, that wouldn't stop it being more of a crime story to anyone in the publishing world, I'm willing to bet.
It's a similar deal with the book I'm currently polishing ready for submission. Again, nothing supernatural in this tale of a post-apocalyptic Britain destroyed by a nuclear war. It would probably be classed a dark thriller while I thought I was writing a horror story that just so happened not to contain any demons, ghosts or horrible slimy things. Ditto with what I've got planned for my next one which I'll probably start within a few weeks - you could call it a dark thriller again or maybe even a grounded firmly on planet Earth type of science-fiction. I think the idea as it stands is horror but like I said, there's a lot of room to play with here. So what if I haven't touched on the restless dead or the things that live in the quiet, lonely places lately? I'm not really fussed what I might be called or what sub-genres of horror I explore as long as I get to tell my tales.