This is a guest post from R A Evans, author of horror novel Asylum Lake.
There was a time when I ran from the label of being a “horror writer”. It’s tough enough as a self-published author to be taken seriously, but adding the extra burden of a horror tag to my bio made the chances of people rolling the dice on my projects even scarier – and not in a good way!
You see, there’s a difference between the vampire that lurks within the pages of an Urban Fantasy title and the kind I tend to write about. Perhaps mine wear less hair gel and more clothes. I have no gratuitous plot points where my characters shed their shirts to expose their six-pack abs; mine are much more concerned with quenching their undying thirst than with their appearance. And don’t even get me started on the Paranormal Romance genre – their vampires are an entirely different breed.
That being said, we’re all writing about things that go bump in the night. Yet, the Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance genres are much more widely accepted. From literary agents and publishing houses to book reviewers and bloggers, there’s a certain stigma about being a known as a horror writer. Is my vampire less worthy of attention?
Okay, so I’ve belabored the point a bit. But there is truth in my sarcasm. Horror gets a bad rap. For some, it’s not main-stream enough to be accepted. Horror is fringe. It’s true, my take on a vampire may be a bit darker than what you would find in an Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance novel, but shouldn’t the quality of the narrative be what defines its value – not the label?
I had considered switching genres as an experiment. It’s really an easy thing to do. My plan was to adjust my author platform, but instead of labeling my books as horror I would check the box next to Urban Fantasy. I just couldn’t pull the trigger on it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not nearly the genre snob I appear to be – to each their own is my philosophy. But then a funny thing started happening – my books started selling. That first review quickly turned into another and another and soon readers were looking beyond the horror label and taking a chance on my book.
The problem hadn’t been that I had written a horror novel. The problem was that I hadn’t embraced being a horror author. I saw authors with novels in other genres selling far more copies and thought for sure that it was the label that really mattered. My novel Asylum Lake had romantic undertones – so why not call it a Paranormal Romance and jump on that popular bandwagon? Modern day setting with supernatural elements? Bingo – it’s Urban Fantasy! How could I possibly have expected readers to embrace me as an author when I hadn’t yet embraced myself?
So did I imagine this horror stigma? Certainly not. I’ve sold dozens of copies to public libraries and still more often than not find my titles tucked away into the dark corner reserved for horror; safely out of sight…and mind. And there are still several reviewers, bloggers, and even media outlets who refuse to read horror. I may never change the way some people view the horror genre, but I’ve definitely changed my own view.
I’m proud to write about what lurks in the darkness – the hand reaching out from under your bed after the lights go out and before your leg makes it under the blanket. It’s what I like to read and definitely what I love to write. I write horror. Somebody has to do it and if the reviews for Asylum Lake are any indication, I might just be doing it for awhile.
About R. A. Evans
R. A. Evans writes. By day he pours his creative energy into meeting the varied needs of his clients. By night, he writes for pleasure. It’s what he does. It’s who he is. If you like your humor dark, your blood-letting messy, and the creepiness factor cranked to eleven, he’s the author for you. His debut novel, Asylum Lake, hit the shelves to rave reviews and its sequel Grave Undertakings will be unearthed in May 2011.
A graduate of Grand Valley State University, Evans started his career at a small town newspaper, and has spent the past fifteen years working in marketing and public relations.
Asylum Lake is available on Amazon for Kindle
Autographed print copies are available here
You can follow all of R.A. Evans’ dark musings, news, events, and the popular 7 Deadly Questions author interview series here
(Note from Joanna: I appeared on 7 Deadly Questions a few weeks ago and talked about Pentecost – thanks Rich!)
Image: Flickr CC Christian Back