What is Horror?

Dear Drew,

Horror is an emotive element, but it is not a genre.

Horror is the existential dread in whose shadow we all live. It is the sum of the fears of our existence and the cathartic thrill of working through those fears. Horror is the via negativa or “the way of the negative.” In many ways, horror is like an Old Testament prophet illustrating the eventual path of a negative conclusion. Horror wrestles with the reality of evil and questions why bad things happen to people.

Horror is an exploration of our terrors, encompassing our fear of Death. Many times our fears come back to the fear of death, helplessness, loss, the after life, or God (or worse, the lack of God).

A friend, in telling me her plans about coming to Mo*Con II, wrote this:

“Comic-Con is fun. Mo*Con would be about something much deeper. I believe in deep. I live for deep. At this point I’m 90% sure I want to be with you guys to explore the relationship between what we write and what we believe. For me horror is the path to truth. It is about enlightenment. Did you know a study was done that people remember more through gross and horrific events than mundane or even emotionally charged events? I believe that horror can open that doorway and if you time your message just right you can convey something powerful and meaningful to your reader.”

That’s the answer I would have given, to the question you were trying to ask at the World Horror Convention 2007, had that errant bottle of Knob Creek not been kicking both of our butts.

Love,

Maurice

P.S.

This could be some people’s idea of horror:

WHC 2007: Day Four – Why We Almost Left Chesya at the Border Part II

Or, How the hell did you let her back into the country?

We interrupt this last scheduled WHC 2007 recap with this: Chesya blogged the conclusion to the story because she didn’t trust me to stick to the facts of the story. I guess she was afraid I’d describe in detail how she drove my van like a mad woman chased by Canadian demons, leaving us so traumatized that we just wanted to drive the speed limit without changing lanes all the way from Detroit to Indianapolis. Or, she didn’t want me relaying my fantasy of security detaining her at the border and, as we pulled away, me rolling down my window to yell “she’s muling drugs!”

I’m not even going to try to do shout outs to all the folks I met and who made the con so great for me. Just look for a few pics that I took on the photos page of my web site tomorrow morning.

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World Horror Convention 2007: Day Three – Work Day

Surprisingly enough, the longer the convention goes on, the later a start we all get. I’m sure this has nothing to do with recovering from the best Gross Out contest ever (which I was going to enter until I found out it was up against my panel. Wrath told me to either enter next year or he’s stealing my idea); or the fact that with four of us rooming together (myself, Simon Wood, Chesya Burke, and Lauren David), we weren’t falling asleep until around six in the morning. However, it’s usually Day Three that I buckle down and get down to the “business” of the con.

-panels (each year I go to fewer and fewer, usually only the ones that I’m on, should be on, or allow me to check out some folks I’m needing to network with). I was only on one panel where I basically rehashed my writing the other blog. Though I wanted to argue about things the horror market can learn from the Dark Dreams anthology series.

-pitches. Ah, the familiar mild anxiety that comes with preparing to do my novel pitches to agents and editors. Remembering the lessons of being a professional, the keys to pitches are treat it like a job interview (because it is) and rehearse your pitch before hand.

That night was the Stoker Award Banquet (read: stand around and look pretty):

And now for a quick game of non-sequitur Simon (Wood) says, because he knows how to talk to the ladies:

-“You smell like carrots.”

-“I can’t remember what you used to look like, but you look good now.”

-“If you check under your fingernails right now, you’d find little chunks of Simon.”

-“That’s a lovely fisherman’s shirt. It’s a Perfect Storm sort of shirt. I can see Marky Mark riding the waves in that. But, really, I like it.”

-“Maurice Broaddus? Who the f@&k; is he?”

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If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

World Horror Convention 2007: Day Two – Things That Did NOT Happen

-I did not ad lib an entry for the Gross Out contest in the preacher voice.

-Brian Keene didn’t ask me for forgiveness after his reading of The Resurrection and the Life.

-Wrath James White gave me no grief whatsoever about me having written a “baby momma drama” under a pen name. Nor did he follow me around the “World’s Largest Bookstore” laughing. A lot.

-I did not use the phrase “Tucking Dollars for Jesus” as an evangelism method.

-I did not flirt with Jen Orosel’s boyfriend.

-I was not sexually harassed by Drew Williams.

-Neither Rebecca Hay nor Eunice Magill decided to channel their inner Chesay and start ordering around the men in their lives. Nor was the phrase “throne of boys” used.

-Brian Keene did not autograph a copy of Lahaye and Jenkin’ The Rising for me. He then didn’t ask if he should sign under his baby momma drama pen name.

-the preacher’s voice did not rear its head again, followed by air tweaking, and the words “let me heal you.”

-I did not start yelling “Black Rage! Black Rage!” in the middle of my Diversity in Horror panel.

-I was not grinding with Jeremy Lassen.

-No one associated with me ended up at a strip club with Wrath James White.

-I did not get kissed by Gary Braunbeck and Christopher Golden

Sadly, only one of these things didn’t actually happen.

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If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

We were lost.

Not just a little lost, but way lost. My fellow intrepid band of travelers– Carrie Rapp, Lauren David, and Debbie Kuhn–were doing fine on our trek from Indianapolis to Toronto, but we had to stop in Detroit to pick up Chesya Burke. Unfortunately, we were once again reminded about why I really ought to invest in a GPS rather than depend on Mapquest so much.

“Carrie, why are we getting off at 8 Mile?” I asked, with only a mild tremor of panic in my voice, no matter what anyone else may tell you.

“You said ‘Let’s stop and ask for directions at the next exit.’”

“I’m sorry. Let me clarify: ‘Let’s stop and ask for directions at any other spot than 8 Mile.’ Did no one else see the movie?”

Here’s a tip you might not otherwise get, but it’s exactly the type of practical information you’ve come to expect from me: polluted Detroit air still smells better than crackhead breath. Seriously, how bad off were we when we’re taking directions from a crackhead with jazz hands? Don’t get me wrong, the man knew his city, had us back on the right track better than Mapquest or the AAA trip tik we had. Unfortunately, we then learned of our next problem.

“Chesya, do you have your passport?” I asked, ever so innocently as we neared the Canadian border.

“I don’t need a passport.”

“Do you have a birth certificate?”

“I’m here ain’t I? What’s a piece of paper gonna tell you that your eyes can’t already see.”

“How are you planning on getting into Canada?”
“I’m going to kill them with kindness. Then I’m gonna flash them my brilliant …”

“Oh, Lord. My eyes.” I screamed, fearing that she was going to bend over.

“… smile. Jackass.”

“Make no mistake, I will leave your behind at the border and go on without you.”

I knew how this was going to go. The border patrol was going to ask for our ID. She was going to go into her “do you know who I am?” routine and I was just going to assume the position and be toted off to detention, because somehow this was going to be my fault.

“Where are you from?” Indiana.

“What for?” Writer’s convention.

“Any alcohol?” No.

“Welcome to Canada.”

We didn’t even have to pull out any ID. Yes, I did lose a $50 bet about whether or not she’d get in.

On to WHC.

Don’t look for me cause I’ll be gone …

Off to Toronto and the World Horror Convention 2007. Internets, please pray for me. Not only am I taking my message board mod, Lauren David; artist, Carrie Rapp, and fellow writer, Debbie Kuhn, we’re stopping to pick up Chesya Burke from the Detroit airport.

They may not let us back into the country. For those looking for me at the con, if I’m not in the bar, I actually have a panel this go around.

Friday – 11:00pm-Midnight: WRITING HORROR IN DIFFERENT CULTURES

(I’m on this one with Lucien Soulban!) This panel sounds vaguely familiar. I can only hope the moderator of this panel has a brilliant best friend who can write their questions for them.

Friday – 8:00pm-10:00pm: MASS SIGNING

I ain’t gonna lie: I’m just there to look pretty. I suppose I could sign your copies of Weird Tales, DeathGrip: Exit Laughing, and Dark Dreams II.

BTW, I’ve got no new news, so I thought I’d share some about some friends of mine:

Speaking of Lucien, WHC should feature the release of Horrors Beyond II from Elder Signs Press and his short story “Serenade.” Plus, he’ll showing off his new short story “Songs of the Mother” in the upcoming Dragonlance anthology: Dragons of Time.

Simon Wood just released the mass market paperback edition of his novel “Accidents Waiting to Happen.” Considering that I’ve been running around doing my impression of him, I suppose I ought to let folks know he’s now out and about.

Alice Henderson has been nominated for a Scribe Award for her Buffy novel “Portal Through Time.” Sure, she’s missing Mo*Con II to pick up awards.

Richard Dansky is featured in a new anthology — “Astounding Hero Tales“. John C. Hay just beat me out of an anthology. His story,”Return, My Heart, to the Sea,” is scheduled to appear in Sails & Sorcery: Nautical Tales of Fantasy, published by Fantasist Enterprises. However, since I’m also his first reader, I take full credit for its publication

To tide you over, my Intake column last week addressed “why we should pursue multi-cultural church” and this week I remember my time in the “Center for Leadership Development.”

So see you in a few days. A report sure to follow … assuming we’re allowed back into the country.

***

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

Sexism and Genre Conventions?

Well, in a little over a month, the World Horror Convention convenes. This year, the Stokers Banquet is a part of the festivities, so it’s like two conventions in one. Yet some folks are dreading it, if not outright skipping it, namely a lot of female peers of mine. Actually, it reminds me of an on-going discussion Chesya Burke and I have about whether or not it’s easier to be female or black in the genre. When she asks whether I’d rather be a white female or a black male in the genre, I paraphrase Chris Rock: I’m going to ride this male thing out. So this might be an occasion of male privilege leading to male guilt.

Part of this goes back to what it means to be a professional. It’s a shame that we would even have to say “keep your hands to yourselves” as a part of professional conduct. I get that there’s a bit of the old con mentality that plays into some of this: that “what happens at a con stays at a con,” like the rest of their lives don’t matter, or at least exist outside of what is supposed to be a convention of professionals.

It’s bad enough that they still have to contend with schools of thought that believe women can’t write horror, or that vampire erotica is all they can write. Tired of the constant condescension, as if they aren’t expected to be able to speak in whole sentences. Of course strides have been made, but in a lot of ways, there is the lingering perception of the genre still being a boys club. Of that being how deals are often brokered and anthologies put together.

Their sex becomes a two-edged sword. On the one side, if they find publishing success, they become dogged by rumors of how they got their deal. On the other side, some may use their looks to sell their fiction. If you think you have to use your body, your sexiness to sell your work, maybe you can’t claim hurt when you aren’t thought of for your writing first; but all of us use what we have to our marketing advantage.

Convention fatigue sets in when women become tired of being constantly propositioned. I’ve heard disgusting tales of women being pinned in corners, elevator rides that have gone horribly wrong, and convention stalking. Is it so much a leap that women want to be seen as writers, not potential lays. The saddest part is how some of the worst behavior comes from the ones they had never guessed it would come from: their friends, their confidantes, their supposed peers.

Women, especially women horror writers, don’t need me defending them. Maybe I’m making a big deal out of a marginal problem. Though I’ve been told that were a woman to have written something like this, it would have fallen on deaf ears. We’ll see what kind of discussion this generates.

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If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

Wife Swap

Cat, the co-editor of the Red Light District Anthology that I’ve already been rejected from before I submit, recently posted this notice:

Hey Tracy,

I also wanted to drop you a line because I know you are into the horror genre, like me. I decided to start looking for families that love horror and I thought of you. I know you run some message boards and work with some authors. I was wondering if you mind passing my info along to see if there are any families are interested. You know the type of personalities we look for and the requirements- 2 parents and at least one child between 7 and 17. If a family is cast based on your referral, we will give you $1,000. J I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask you! Thanks. Tell everyone I said hello!

Just thought I’d throw that out there. Actually I know several families that would be good for this, but I would get in touch with those folks before sending info on to the show folks. If you’re interested and want to know more (and my feelings on it) let me know.

Cat

There are many reasons I love my wife, chief among them (besides her ability to put up with my odd ways of declaring my love) being that she’s so often the voice of reason and reality grounding in the Broaddus household. When I mentioned the Wife Swap idea, she made two simple points:

1) Do you know how you’d look on national TV?

2) Wouldn’t it be funny if they swapped me for Chesya?

Yeah, that’d be just my luck. During Mo*Con, my wife and Chesya got to hang out together for a whole weekend. Good times (READ: Exhibit A on why polygamy is a bad idea – that’s only more women that I won’t be able to please). Hmm, let me see if I can draw on my convention experience with Chesya to imagine what my life would be like:

-Chesya on sleeping arrangements: “Of course I get the whole bed. There’s plenty of floor. Here, I’ll even give you a pillow. Yeah only one. Do you know who I am?”

-Chesya on fixing dinner: “Maurice, I’m hungry. Yes, it’s two in the morning. I want a slice of pizza.”*

-Chesya on dressing: “No, you ain’t wearing that. You don’t get to out dress me. Do you know who I am?”

Of course, now that I think about it, Maurice Broaddus and Chesya Burke living together sounds like a TV sitcom pitch. Someone call an agent!

*Yeah, yeah, laugh it up all you WHC 2005 attendees who actually witnessed that one.

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If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.