Thursday, October 10, 2013

Halloween Bash with Die Booth...Why I love monsters

When I was little, I always liked the villains the best.

Apparently that marked me out quite early on as being ‘odd’ (or at least, a horror author in the making!) but I don’t really think it was odd at all.
Initially, I think it was a typical childish fascination with ‘scary’ things and a very marked desire to be seen to brave with ease the things that other people found frightening. One of my earliest memories is being taken to see Disney’s Snow White at a long-since closed cinema in the big city. I was maybe five at the time (no, it wasn't the original film release, I’m not quite that old!) and clearly recall people warning me that I might be afraid of the witch. I wasn't afraid of her. I thought she was brilliant. Aside from my obvious desire to prove them wrong and show how brave I was, it was a genuine fascination. The witch in disguise was interesting and cool, but the Evil Queen was beautiful. Why was evil always so much better dressed? I think that was probably a big (and admittedly quite shallow!) formative decider. The fairy godmothers in Sleeping Beauty were sparkly and annoying, but Maleficent’s dragon was spectacular, and nobody was going to diss her.
 Peter Pan - despite his impressive abilities of flight - was twee, not to mention sartorially challenged. Captain Hook, with his debonair swagger and excellent hat, had my absolute allegiance from the off. Initially, it was just that the baddies always seemed more interesting to me, but as I grew up, something else crept in. It struck me that the villains of fairy tale, even when not actually intrinsically evil, well - nobody really liked them. They seemed to have no friends. I began to empathize with them. Of course, some characters are pretty irredeemable, but it’s that type of ‘looks evil, therefore must be evil’ monster that started to really pique my interest. The generic ‘run as soon as you spot it’ lumbering B-movie demon. It looks horrible, so you know, instinctively, that it must be horrible. This didn't, and still doesn't, sit right with me. I wanted to know the story behind the twisted old lady living alone in the woods. I wanted to talk to the lonely ghosts from whom people fled in fright before they even got out their first ‘boo’. I wanted to make friends with the monsters.

And so it came to pass that, on school trips to museums, where my classmates would loiter around the Egyptian mummy exhibits, squealing ‘ewww dead bodies, gross!’ in horrified delight, I would be the kid with my nose pressed against the glass, whispering ‘look at her eyelashes!’ in admiring awe. Fast forward to adulthood, watching films with friends, I’m the one who thinks the creatures of Pan’s Labyrinth are beautiful instead of freaky. I’d take them over the horror of civil war any day.
So this is what has shaped my writing style. My horror isn't meant to make people scared of monsters: it wants to reassure them that the monsters are often nothing to be scared of. There’s more of a challenge in helping people see the beauty in the horrific and encourage them to sympathize with the ‘monsters’ than there is in handing them a shotgun and pointing them, unquestioning, at the zombies. Sometimes monsters look like monsters, but sometimes they don’t. And sometimes the ‘monstrous’, if you only give it a chance, can be very beautiful indeed.

Die Booth lives in Chester, UK, in a tiny house with four fire-places and enjoys old things, funny noises and exploring dark places. Die’s work has featured in three Cheshire Prize for Literature anthologies and has most recently appeared in The Fiction Desk, Litro, and Prime’s ‘Bloody Fabulous’ anthology amongst others. You can also read several of Die’s stories in the 2011 anthology ‘Re-Vamp’ co-edited by L.C. Hu. Forthcoming work is due to appear in ‘Gothic Blue Book III’ from Burial Day Books and ‘The Art of Fairytales’ edited by Sarah Pasifull Grant.
Die’s first novel ‘Spirit Houses’, a monster-friendly supernatural tale of action, adventure and excellent Scotch, is available now from the following outlets:

1 comment:

  1. A fun blog, thanks -- and as a child I thought the Evil Queen was beautiful too!