I’ve always been interested in looking at the types of horror that I write about, because I think it says a lot about the kind of person I am, about what makes me tick.
I have a tendency to steer clear of anything that’s spiritual. Ghosts do not scare me. Haunted houses scare me even less. If there’s one type of horror I stay away from, both as a reader and a writer, it’s the Haunted House trope. Beyond the fact that I don’t think ghosts are scary, the solution to a haunted house is so mind bendingly simple, that I lose all interest in following the trials and tribulations of the characters. Just move out of the goddamn house! You’ve got a problem, it stays tied to one geographical location, then MOVE. Problem solved.
(Small digression, favorite haunted house novel, The House Next Door, which basically obliterates all my complaints with the genre. Check it out.)
I also tend to stay away from the Classical Monsters tropes: no vampires, no werewolves, no mummies. There’s just very little that can be said about those monsters. They’ve become so embedded in our pop culture, that they’re no longer truly scary. And, lest you forget, horror is about scaring people. This seems to be something modern filmmakers have forgotten.
If I can think of a new angle for werewolves and vampires, then I’ll run with it. But for the most part, I think those guys have been thoroughly tapped out.
My own personal fiction focuses more on either madness or some Lovecraftian terror. By Lovecraftian, I don’t necessarily mean ancient Gods living beneath the ocean, but strange, metaphysical horrors that lurk around and under the shadows. That appeals to me on some level because there’s at least a vague potential for it being a real thing. Not to mean that I think these creatures and demons and the like do exist, but so little is known about the universe, that the notion of weird little pockets of unreality at least sounds plausible. And that’s what makes things scary to me, their real world plausibility.
And this follows with stories about madness as well. Insanity is a very real, tangible thing. I mean not for me. I’m sane.