Whilst perusing a guest blog on my friend LizzieBeth’s site, I found myself utterly aghast at what I was reading. That, in & of itself, came as a shock to me as I generally come away from her blogs in a happy-go-lucky ‘yay I got to know another cool author’ mood. To be clear, my shock had absolutely nothing to do with LizzieBeth’s writing or with the fact that the guest blogger, Fiona Dodwell, is a published horror fiction novelist. I was taken aback by some of the judgments Ms. Dodwell says some people pass on her & probably others for simply being a horror novelist.
I just can’t fathom why people would pass such harsh &, in my opinion, strange judgment on a person for writing fiction—regardless of the genre. The things mentioned in that post regarding those who choose to write horror, though, are outright appalling & definitely blew my mind. I had no idea. To say it’s ‘unhealthy’ or there ‘must be some deep-rooted issue’ for someone to be entertained by, let alone write in, the horror genre sounds incredibly insane to me. It’s fiction—pure & simple. One either enjoys reading/writing fictional horror or doesn’t. There’s no need to pass judgments on the readers or the writers of this or any other genre.
I wonder if these same hypercritical people give a moment’s thought to the fact that there are far worse things than horror fiction novels that have come from the human imagination, been tinkered with, & materialized into reality—many of which have been around for at least a century? For instance all the medieval torture devices, the atomic bombs, or ‘miracle medicines’ that later turned out to be deadly–just to name a few. Those are all very real things derived from the human imagination. Things one cannot simply close, stop reading, or eject from the DVD player. The very notion of considering a horror novelist to be mentally ill in order to be capable of writing such things is simply deplorable & I applaud all authors of all genres, who likely take a verbal beating from one direction or another, for not allowing such ignorance to hold them back. I shudder to even imagine what those same folks would think of my parents.
I’ve been reading Stephen King, Dean Koontz, & the like since I was probably ‘too young’ in some peoples’ eyes to be reading such things. The same assessment likely applies when it comes to Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth’s Children, Book One), The Valley of Horses (Earth’s Children, Book Two), & later the rest of the series. To these folks, I would’ve been ‘too young’ to be reading the horror of Stephen King or the Earth’s Children Series due to prehistoric religious practices & realistic sexual situations. These are just a couple of examples & I honestly don’t remember the exact age I started reading these books. Does that make my parents horrible for letting me read those types of books? In my opinion, not even a little bit. What were they going to do with a child who was capable of reading far above her age level? Make her continue to read “See Spot Run” or “Sweet Valley High”? Not that there’s anything wrong with those books—how do you think I learned to read in the first place were it not for working my way up the reading ladder? However, I’m grateful they didn’t foist what, by the time I was of that age, I would’ve considered the inane drivel of my ‘age group’ upon me by restricting my reading to only that which was recommended. To me, that would’ve been criminal. It could very well have proven detrimental to my desire to read at all in the future, actually, as I would’ve likely been bored out of my skull when it came to books at an impressionable age during which I could’ve just as easily arrived at the conclusion that all books must be boring—never to be bothered with a desire to read again unless forced. Now that thought is, indeed, a horror.
To this day, at age thirty-six & thanks to my parents’ decision not to restrict me to only certain books, I still adore reading. They loved me & cared enough about my intellectual development to simply ‘let go’ a little & allow themselves to be happy I was devouring books rather than placing undue worry over what I was reading. Better, in their eyes & in mine, that it was books I was devouring & not drugs or alcohol—not beginning to ‘party’ like many of my peers were. Reading is & always has been one of my absolute favorite activities. I can find myself so easily engrossed in the world of a well-written book of nearly any genre &, given the choice, I’d still much rather enrich my mind with a good book than attend some drunken party.
I genuinely grieve for the literature-hungry child of today whose parent(s) feels, due to potential scrutiny in a climate of societal judgment that seems to grow more harsh & puritanical by the minute, that they must restrict the reading materials of that child.
Mom & Dad, you have my deepest & most heartfelt gratitude & love for so many things, including for bestowing upon me the cherished gift of loosely held reins that allowed a burning desire to read blossom within me.