I have loved horror since I was a child. I grew up watching Creature Feature and Ghost Host. Those movies scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. Some are horror classics and others were fun schlock. I sat up at midnight, nose inches from the TV screen, junk food in hand, watching classics like "The Reptile", "The Wasp Woman", "The Legend Of Hell House", "The Haunting", "Curse Of The Demon", "The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant", "Horror Of Dracula", and "Quatermas and the Pit". I was a sucker for Hammer Films. I fell in love with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Then, when the movies were over and the TV stations went dead for the night at about 2 am - yes, this was during the Jurassic era when TV stations didn't run 24/7 - I'd turn off the lights and in a total movie-induced panic run from the basement to my second floor bedroom, hoping 1) the monsters didn't get me (bad) or 2) I didn't wake my parents (worse). Then I'd sleep with the covers pulled over my head until the sun came up.
By the time I graduated from college I discovered Dario Argento and Mario Bava. I noticed lots of guys liked movies like "Suspiria" (my favorite Argento movie which is - horrors! - being remade), and people would ask me: "What's a nice girl like you doing watching stuff like this?" As if women couldn't like good, gory horror. What was I supposed to like? Fluffy romances populated by man candy, rainbows and unicorns? Ew! Give me "2,000 Maniacs" over a romance any day. And I can say that because I write erotic romances as well as horror.
I like horror because I like being in control of my fear. With a horror movie, if I get too scared (not likely) or grossed out (could happen), I can turn it off. If I'm reading a horror novel that gets to be too much for me, I can slip in the bookmark and put it away. In real life, you can't stop the horrors at your leisure.
I couldn't stop my ex-husband from abusing me although I wanted it to stop very badly.
I couldn't stop my divorce for eleven years although I wanted it to end.
I did manage to stop one rape but only because the situation worked out in my favor. I had no control over the outcome. I just got lucky.
I couldn't stop the war that killed my friend's brother.
I couldn't stop my favorite cousin from abusing drugs and dying from AIDS.
I couldn't stop my parent's divorce.
I couldn't stop my parent's remarriage (Don't ask. Long story.)
I couldn't stop my parent's second divorce. (Ditto.)
I couldn't control the car accident that killed a friend of mine when I was in grade school.
I couldn't stop a classmate's suicide.
I couldn't stop grade school bullying especially when I was the target.
I couldn't stop child abuse, family court corruption, or domestic violence when I worked as an activist and writer on those issues.
Real life is scarier than horror movies because I have little control over quite a bit of it. Horror movies and books give me an illusion of both control and sometimes things working out for the protagonists in the end. It's true that horror often ends on a down note - heroes die, villains win, problems aren't resolved or are resolved but not in a satisfying manner. Still, once the movie ends and the world is overrun by demons, I can turn it off knowing such a thing hasn't and likely won't happen. I can put the book on the shelf and move on to another one. I can explore my own fears safely in my own home or in a movie theatre surrounded by friends who clutch at each other during the worst scenes.
All of that is what I love about horror. Plus I just like being piss-your-pants scared. Watching a good horror movie or reading a good horror novel is like being on a roller coaster. The ride is terrifying but deep down you know you're safe so you can enjoy exploring your fears. And as a result you can overcome them.
Here is information about my horror short stories, in particular "The Oily", which appeared in the November, 2011 issue of "Stupefying Stories" magazine.
Horror stories coming soon:
Trailer Trash Zombies - May December Publications
We're All Mad Here - Zippered Flesh 2
Previously released horror stories:
BLURB FOR STUPEFYING STORIES, NOVEMBER 2011 ISSUE:
The second volume in award-winning writer Bruce Bethke's new e-book only original anthology series gets bigger and better, with nine all-new tales of the fantastic, frightening, and funny by Aaron Bradford Starr, Clare L. Deming, Anatoly Bellilovsky, Sarah Frost, Rebecca Roland, Henry Vogel, and many more.
REVIEWS PRAISING "THE OILY":
"The Oily by E. A. Black - Lara and Nate return to their childhood home where they confront haunted memories and secrets of Winwood House and the neighboring swamp. I don't usually like ghost stories, but this was one of my favorite selections in the book." - Clare L. Deming
"The Oily by E.A. Black and The King of Ash & Bones by Rebecca Roland had me entranced by their vivid descriptions to go along with their well-told stories." - Jay
EXCERPT FROM "THE OILY":
Storm clouds roiled in the distance, casting shadows on Strangeman’s Swamp. Wind blew strong and hard, tossing the tree branches that danced a frenzied tango. Gnarled branch arms reached into the afternoon sky, grasping at ravens that steered clear in fear. As the sun hid behind cloud skirts, shadows lurked in the underbrush, off in The Oily. Lara raised the window to let out the stale air and a gush of marsh wind blew into the room, rustling the dirty curtains. Dust billowed around her, making her sneeze.
She leaned against the windowsill and stared out into the dank afternoon, watching Strangeman's Swamp, as if demons lurked in the bramble far below.
No demons lived in Strangeman’s Swamp, though. No ghosts, either. Only creatures born of rock and wood, sticker bushes, vines choking the life out of trees, mud, water and wild flowering shrubs. Nothing human lived in Strangeman’s Swamp, or The Oily. Whatever lurked there felt nothing for humanity, and only wanted to end mankind’s encroachment in its territory.
Lights flashed in the distance. What were cars doing on the road so close to the swamp? Especially during a thunderstorm?
Then she remembered that no road ran along the swamp’s edge.
Lights blinked on and off like fireflies, but she'd never seen fireflies on Caleb’s Woe. She watched the glowing pinpricks and wondered what they were. Will o’ the wisp? Saint Elmo’s fire? Swamp gas? Phosphorescence?
They migrated from the edges of the swamp to meet in the center, circling each other like ravens fighting over a carcass. They danced and twirled, some only inches above the muddy waters and others high in the trees. They met in the center of the swamp. Once they reached The Oily they stopped moving.
Then they began to creep towards the house.
Lara stood riveted to the window, unable to move. Dread coiled at the base of her spine, whispering to her in a voice harsh with terror. She could only watch the spectacle taking place below, wondering what intelligence moved those lights in en mass like a swarm of angry bees.
The lights floated on the breeze until they disappeared beneath the covered porch. Lara waited until the glow from below crept up the screen. Heart thumping and mouth dry with fear, she froze to her spot, unable to lower the window despite her desperate urge to slam it down. Knowing something horrible was about to happen, eyes wide and unblinking, she stared out the window at the growing glow, waiting. Fetid air hung around her, smelling of low tide and dead fish. The stink clung to her skin, was absorbed into her pores. In disgust, she scratched her arms to scrape it off, but its grip only tightened.
The wizened hand that crept up the screen shriveled in a dirty, tattered sleeve. Fingers crawled along the screen like a gnarled pale spider, seeking entrance. Mesmerized, Lara could only watch as the hand felt along the edges of the window, long ragged nails picking at the wood to break through.
Below the arm was a small body, capped with a head full of matted brown hair. Mud clung to the tresses and caked on the shoulders. The body of the boy gripped the side of the house, clinging like a spider on a wall. Spiders terrified Lara. Those hairy limbs and those eyes…