Queer Fear : Blog Hop

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Personal Fears and Literary Demons (or, Fear Done My Way) – Ariel Graham

Horror stories, horror movies, ghost stories, all those delicious chills, these are my roller coasters. I grew up the white knuckle kid who hated the Ferris wheel (my sister, 10 years older, thought it was fun to get stopped at the top, and to rock the car while up there), stayed away from roller coasters, only rode with drivers I knew and trusted.

At the same time, I rode my bike down hills in rural Sparks, Nevada, that were so steep my brakes would give out at the bottom. The better than 90 degree turn there required I put one foot down and pivot the bike onto the road to avoid flying into a field of rocks and sage, bounded by barbed wire. By sixth grade, I’d read “Hell House” by Richard Matheson, by seventh, “Jaws”, by eighth “The Sentinel” by Jeffrey Konvitz, and I eavesdropped on every conversation my sister had about “The Exorcist”. (I may be dating myself.)

The difference between horror movies and thrill rides isn’t the swoop of terror in the gut or the delicious feeling of doing something scary. For me, it seems to be that with the_shininghorror movies and horror literature, I’m in control. I can’t control a roller coaster, but I can decide how much I read, how far I go, and when I stop. Like Joey Tribiani, I can put “The Shining” in the freezer (or in my case, “The Haunting of Hill House” in the car overnight). It’s fear done my way.

With books and movies, I can decide what fear works for me by the way I choose what to read and what to watch. I’ve seen the first four Hellraiser movies and love them, but I’ve never watched the “Final Destination” franchise. I’m interested in people using their brains and brawn to escape the things that are threatening them more than how thinly developed characters go splat (my best friend and I walked out of Phantasm because, seriously, that metal ball flying around with knives sticking out at eye level was upsetting, not thrilling).

I’ve long believed that the best horror stories are individual. It’s why people who love ghost stories tend to have their own favorites. Horror that works the very best for horror lovers touches on some aspect of the reader’s or viewer’s personal fears.

maleficent_by_salvation_series-d3aq58oWhen I was very young, Maleficent from Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” lived in the bathroom fan in the upstairs bathroom of the A-frame our Meanest Man in the World father built. Whether or not my Ferris-wheel-car-rocking sister convinced me of this (I suspect her, but can’t prove it), I’ve never been able to do anything with Maleficent in the fan story-wise. Other horror tropes, for me, include being trapped, whether mentally or physically, by circumstances or by something controlling my movements. I recently reread Ellen Datlow’s “The Dark” anthology and Tanith Lee’s story, “The Ghost of the Clock”, chilled me into reading a longish story all the way through, on a busy day. I simply couldn’t put it down, and that was less of the ghost and more the narrator’s circumstances that kept me as white knuckled as I was on those Ferris Wheel rides.

Likewise, Margaret Atwood’s “Bodily Harm”, a book that never seemed to earn the recognition it deserved, haunts me some 10 or 15 years after I read it. When I finished, I rewrote the ending in my mind multiple times. It’s not horror, but the circumstances – and very definitely the ending – are horrifying.

When I was writing “The Pain Cycle” for Storm Moon Press’ Queer Fear anthology, one personal fear very definitely played in: that of a loved one being in pain or threatened – the specter of loss. That one’s rarely shown up in my work. Far more often, that’s the stuff of nightmares for me.

Once the idea for “The Pain Cycle” started, the characters Luke and Jesse started coming to life. Luke shares my impatience and intolerance of intolerance, not to mention my temper. The story kicks off with a situation directly out of my life. One warm fall night, I left a networking event early. The event had been held in a newly built professional building in a small knot of such buildings, which are all only a couple miles off Reno’s downtown. After hours, the area was very dark and very empty, and other people hadn’t filled up the streets yet, since I left a little early.463057 I had parked some distance away. About the time the full moon came out from behind storm-dark clouds, I realized I was walking past a gutted, empty office building that formed a dark cave. Some worker had left a crumpled shirt and lunch box or some such, so it looked as though someone might be living in there. The building, now surrounded by chain link, was separated from the next building by a short, but authentic, dark alley.

There weren’t any creatures attacking someone I loved, but it was enough to make me grip my keys between my fingers and laugh at myself for being in the proverbial dark alley where people are attacked in cautionary tales. I always wondered what they were doing there in the first place when hearing those apocryphal tales, and now I know. When “The Pain Cycle” started and Luke went stomping off into the night from one of the ex-pizza-parlor, really expensive, gentrified condos on Holcomb, the gutted building and deserted night streets came back to mind and the story took off.

“The Pain Cycle” can be found in Storm Moon Press’ Queer Fear anthology, which is now available for just $4.99! Thanks to Live Your Life, Buy the Book for having me over today, and I hope everyone enjoys the erotic horror stories in this anthology!

QueerFear_500It’s long been known that fear and arousal create the same type of response inside the human body. Putting them together, then, is a recipe for a scorchingly hot time. Queer Fear does just that by exploring the world of erotic horror. It’s the ultimate marriage of lust and terror, the perfect blend of dark horror elements with sensuality and erotic content. This isn’t some safe and sparkly paranormal romance; this is the place where angels fear to tread, and so would you, if you had any sense. Turn back before it’s too late!

We begin with Reading Arteries, where a new designer drug engineered to force feelings of lust in those who take it. When the men hired to steal the formula decide to try it out, they end up addicted to love.

Then, in The Possession of Lawrence Eugene Davis, following the death of his father, Lawrence has returned to his family’s ranch, but is quickly set upon by a demonic presence. Hope for release comes with the conveniently-appearing Elijah, but the deal he offers may be just as unholy as the demon itself.

Next, Dark Revelation brings us Derek, constantly at war with his darker half, a demon who uses Derek’s body to rape and kill. And though Derek tries to isolate himself from people, nowhere is truly empty, and Derek’s demon hungers again.

The Pain Cycle follows Luke, despondent over the disappearance of his lover six months ago. When he witnesses a friend dragged into a tunnel by a hideous creature, he gives chase, only to learn the chilling truth about his lover—and who knows how many others.

Finally, in Matthew Powers Lives, a porn shoot in a former mental hospital is plagued by strange equipment failures, leading the crew to believe the site is haunted. For Matthew, those fears are confirmed when a restless spirit confronts him personally, and he’s a hottie!