A question I'm often asked - why do I write and watch and read so much horror? Is there something wrong with me? Am I sick? Have I got a diseased mind? Did I suffer some sort of childhood trauma?
Truth is, as far back as I can remember, I have always been into the 'darker' stuff. I was into Stephen King when I was about 10, 11 years old. I used to write horror books at primary school - spin off's of The Amityville Horror! I used to use cardboard as a cover, and do all my illustrations and writing, and then string it all together and voila! - a proper horror book! God knows what the teachers thought...
And I used to write stuff for my brothers at home. Horror stories. Gamebooks. (I was a big fan of the Fighting Fantasy books - I still maintain to this very day that FF#10 House of Hell was a HUGE influence on me.)
The gamebooks I wrote for my brothers were inspired by horror films. I wrote a load of Friday the 13th and The Howling gamesbooks, some of which I think I still have floating around somewhere... Of course, I never actually watched these movies - I just imagined what they might be like!
At the time I read LOADS of King, Hutson, Herbert. Like a lot of kids at the time, we would read the gory/sexy paragraphs to each other in the playground...
My first 'proper' 18 cert film was Amityville II The Possession. It frightened the living shit out of me! The plot follows the possession of a teenage boy by the Devil (he hears the devil's voice in the headphones of his walkman) and ends up killing his family with a shotgun. The plot then all goes a bit 'The Exorcist' with priests meeting him in his cell, and then out pops the devil - see image below!
Now I was no longer a horror movie virgin. As a result, I would never be as scared watching horror films again. Disturbed, yes. Frightened? Unable to sleep? Nope. I'd broke down the barrier, got the monkey off my back. And you know what? Despite almost shitting myself, I kind of liked it: you know, the whole idea of being scared. Perverse? Maybe. Next thing was I was smuggling horror movies home in my school bag, which I'd borrowed from friends - stuff like Phantasm, Day of the Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street. Unfortunately my parents caught wind of this and banned them!
But why was I into all this?? Why am I still? The honest answer is, I don't know. But I do believe the best horror books and films can enlighten our lives. It takes us out of our comfort zones, makes us face the darker truths of this world. And once we've gone through the grinder, we come out better people. Er...I think!