Author: Christopher Warren

I'm a writer and artist who enjoys the little things, and finds sleep to be overrated.

Horror is Not a Genre (Genre’s Don’t Exist)

3567592024_6db6ecc392_bWe need to talk for a moment about “horror.” It’s not a genre.

“What?” you say. “Not a genre? Well, how does that explain the HORROR section at the movie shop, and the HORROR section at my local bookstore? Why is there a HORROR category when I shop online for my media?”

Valid points. The truth is, horror, along with just about every genre of media, is being used in ways which works against the stories they’re being packaged as. That’s why I’ll invite you to look at “genres” for what they really are: elements of a story.

Have you ever sat down with a friend or family member, and had the discussion of “is it horror?” Have you ever found yourself debating the genre of a given book, film, or piece of music? Have you ever felt a lack of satisfaction in the conclusions of these conversations? It’s because of one detail that’s often overlooked; you can’t define a story by one genre or label, and while I find all labels suffer this problem, I’m mostly going to use horror for this example.

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Letters: D is for Denial

delusionEver wondered what it’s like to feel lost in it all? Chances are, you already have.

Denial is perhaps one of the most horrifying things you’ll find in life—and it’s no closet boogeyman. Denial has no solid shape, lives in all climates, and is a disease which can effect anyone and everyone.

Lovecraft once said “the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” But there’s something which can be just as fear-striking: demons festering because we are blind to them. We allow the unknown to live in ourselves, and dismiss the suffering of others.

One of the first things that comes to my mind, is the character of Jack Torrance in Stephen King’s “The Shining.” He struggles with anger and alcohol, and though he knows his problems exist, they remain inside him as waiting vessels for the evil inside the Overlook Hotel. Often times, the nasty things inside us are opportunists. They stake out times of stress and hardship, and will bleed through into our actions given the chance. Most healthy people will see this taking place, and act accordingly. They manage their problems before they become serious.

But some people never see these problems, and that’s when it become horrifying. (more…)

Letters: C is for Crazy

crazyI’ve always been fascinated with crazies. I’ve also wondered about being crazy myself.

What kind of guy sits there and comes up with all these wild ideas? It’s easy to say you’re “creative,” or “full of imagination,” but for someone to play the character of a crazy person, wouldn’t they have to understand how they work? And can’t you only understand if you’re crazy yourself?

This is what it’s like inside my mind. Constantly churning. Humming with thought. There are so many questions, so many possible directions, and so many answers, it’s like navigating a world of spiderwebs. And your only map? Something inside you. Call it intellect. Call it gut instinct. I’m not sure what it is. So impossible is the world, and the things around it, not to mention what’s inside us. We know a lot, but still lies the mystery.

Then comes the problem of time. You have the present, which is the base for all thoughts, and premonitions. What is a premonition? It’s more like understanding. For example, when you trip on a rock and begin falling, you know you’re about to hit the ground. Unless you’re covered in bubble-wrap, it’s probably going to hurt. And you begin to wonder: when I tumble to the ground, is it the same kind of premonition as someone who has jumped off a cliff? Do they think I’m going to die, it’s going to hurt, and that’s the end?

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Letters: B is for Behind

Anyone who knows what they want to do in life, experiences the same feeling:

It’s like something waiting for you in your closet. Or under your bed.

When I was a child, I would lay awake under the covers, knees pouring sweat, fists clenched. There was a light outside my apartment, and sometimes it would flicker. There were times when it looked more like a person walking by, rather than an electrical fault. But I would stare at it for hours, thinking something was waiting there. Coming closer. I imagined a shadow creeping over my bedroom window like mold. I didn’t know what it would do when it would get its fingers under the latch, and didn’t want to.

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Letters: A is for Art and Anxiety

paintingmonstersThis is the first of twenty-six posts soon to come. Each is an anecdote, rant, or musing based on a letter of the alphabet. It seemed like a nice idea, alright?

In Junior High, I knew a girl. She may have liked me, and maybe I liked her, but there was something I couldn’t put my finger on.

Both of us enjoyed art. She would go to school each day with a little red folder, and everyone would gawk at her skill and talent. Perfect, smokey visages of celebrities floated off the copy paper she used—sponged down with sparkling reflections and glittery highlights. The only problem? Beneath those pretty faces was a hollowness. Void. But I applauded anyway, “Good work! Keep it up!” I said. She’d tuck the folder into her bag with a satisfied grin.

I played a lot of music at the time. Melodies were therapy, and chords, a pleasant distraction. But deep down, I enjoyed artwork. A year before, I’d been left to my own devices while my mom was staying late at work. During those few evenings, I picked up an evening ritual of drawing with the ballpoint pens I had. The hours would tick by at a leisurely pace, and I’d sketches zombies and monsters.

Clearly my mind was in a different place than this girl’s.

Some days the habit would bleed into other hours. When music grew exhausting before class, I wouldn’t hesitate to scribble away in the courtyard. One day Ms. Glitter-Gloss craned her head over my shoulder during one of these sessions. “Oh? What’s that?”

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Door: a Horror Story

Faces_Sketch“Nobody goes down there,” said Toby, taking a sip of whisky and pausing for a drag.

“Nobody?” I said, “Are you sure?”

“Well, I know some have, but they probably weren’t too happy about it.”

A breeze fled past the alley, and there was a crinkling sound when I shut my eyes. I need water, I thought. Water and a woman.

“You know,” said Toby, “I saw a gal,” I leaned back, because I knew this was gonna’ be a story. Not small talk, real this time.

“Pretty woman, bout 5’4. Beautiful as they come. We talked a little, kinda like how we are now. She knew a guy too. I never saw him.”

“And what was she doing?”

“Waiting by the door. A lot of people do that.”

“Why? What do they think’s there?”

Toby leaned in to speak, “Not what they think is there. She walked in after awhile. Shining. So young looking. My ears started ringing then, they do that a lot lately. Trying to tell me there was something wrong, I think.”

“So, how’d it go?”

“Well she went in. Said she was tired of waiting so long. Thought maybe he was already in there. I just nodded, but I couldn’t smile. No way he was in there. She walked out an hour later. Something wrong with her eyes, but that’s not what I thought about afterward, when I was trying to lay down for bed.”

“Will you just get on with it, old man?”

“I could tell you. But… Ah, it’s not like you want to be here anyway. Who you waitin’ for?”

“Wife. Fiancé, I’m sorry, get the two mixed up sometimes. Wedding’s next week.”

Toby buried half his face with a dirty palm, “Her dress was torn at the back. Shredded. Red marks. Deep red marks, like some hands had burned in through the skin. And it confused me at first, because I saw it glinting, all weird in the street lamps. Glinting white stuff. Then I realized it was a bit of rib cage showin’ through.”

I couldn’t say anything after that. Toby grinned when he saw the look on my face. Looking at me with his one eye. “And the kicker?” he continued. “Prints on the back, and somewhere a little lower, between the rear end and the inner knee… Two more handprints. Same shape almost, but the fingers… They were pencils. Long, thin strands of fingers.”

“Four of ‘em?” I said. “How many people are in there?”

“There ain’t a person in there, mister. Ain’t nobody you’d want to do the dance with.”

Another woman, just like any other I’d seen on the street, walked by. Blond. Young. So much ahead. She passed me, shoes clicking, giggling on her phone. “I’ll see you there. That place over by the corner!” she said and hung up.

I wanted to watch, see what was beyond the door when she opened it, but I couldn’t. My joint was out anyway, so I just shut my eyes.

I imagined that whatever lay past that door was dark. Very, very dark. But I couldn’t open my damn mouth. What could I have said? Toby must have known what I was thinking, because he laughed. It bounced all up and down the alley.

But when I could finally open my eyes, look over to nod goodbye, he was already gone.

This story is soon to appear in the DimensionBucket Magazine Podcast: http://www.dimensionbucket.com

More Upcoming Books?!

PostMortem-thumbnail

You heard correctly. There’s a whole bunch of new projects in the pipeline, and they’re gearing to pop out of my mind and onto paper (or your kindle. Either way.)

Part of the challenge in writing books, is the temptation to strive for perfection. Often times, I write and rewrite endlessly until some kind of stability is reached. Not everything can be a magnum opus, but I don’t want to be publishing half-assed material. What would be the point then?

So they’re taking a little time, but I’ve got four different titles in various stages. The one I’m most excited for right now should be releasing within the next month or so, titled “Post Mortem Manipulations.” It’s a collection of three short horror stories, and should be a welcoming introduction to my prose. It will be released in paperback, hardcover, and perhaps audiobook.

TheBareBonesDietAlso on the forefront is my novella “The Bare Bones Diet.” I began writing it around November/December of last year, and has quickly become one of the most challenging and exciting stories I’ve told so far. It’s gone through a couple different drafts, and I’m giving it another polish before it goes out. It’s creepy, it’s sad, and will probably have you opening the fridge for a snack (just kidding, you probably won’t be hungry at all.)

In the meantime, I’ll be sharing new prose and verse on here regularly. I send my thanks to all of you who have shown your enthusiasm, and so kindly shared my work around. It’s a joy to hear back from readers, and I’m always open to your feedback and suggestions.

Now if I may be excused, there are drafts calling to me. They must be completed before they devour all I hold dear. Be back soon!