Today we have an man that has as many pen names as a Sopranos character has aliases. Under the name Tennessee Hicks he writes Urban Fantasy, one of those genres that have the DNA horror if it realizes it or not. He has written some horror stories as well, especially under the name R. M. Haag. Lets see what he think the vital stats of the Horror genre are and how the genre effects his writing.
NHRS: Your essay in Many Genres, One Craft talks about writing in multiple genres, including horror. What are some of the moments that horror genre helped you write in those other genres?
RW: Writing horror means writing about fear. About those dark, gut-wrenching moments when escape looks impossible. No way out. Nowhere to run. Many genres have those same moments, whether in science fiction, contemporary or dark fantasy. Even in a romance fear of being hurt touches those nerves.
NHRS: Conversely, what are some of the moments that other genres have helped strengthen your horror stories?
One criticism people have of horror films, and books, are the stupid fodder characters that only exist to get splattered across the screen or page. Think of Scream 2 when Sarah Michelle Gellar gets outside and goes back into the house. Writing across other genres gives writers better tools, hopefully making for strong stories.
Horror died because readers got sick of bleak endings. People like scares, they love roller coaster rides, but how many are going to climb on the roller coaster if they know that it ends in a furnace? Write a great story, with engaging characters, lots of scares, but give the reader a satisfying ending.
Think about Alien, a classic horror movie in space, and after everything Ripley survives.
NHRS: How did horror literature enter into your life?
I avoided horror for a long time. In college, working on a short story program, I read an anthology of horror fiction. It made an impression and the next quarter I did a contract focused on horror.
NHRS: E-books are booming right now. You’ve mentioned on your blog about how indie writer can be helped with a more “pulp” mindset to publishing to stay visible. The pulp era was a big boom for the horror genre. Do you think the indie era will have the same literary evolutionary significance as that of the pulp peak of the 20’s and 30’s?
Oh, I think if writers are smart it’ll be bigger. Writers drive this multi-billion dollar business and some are finally waking up to that fact. I think we’re seeing the beginning of a tremendous growth in publishing companies (many single-author/multiple pen name companies), and a new surge in reading. Out of all of that who knows what we’ll see, but I think people will try out all sorts of things. Some will work well, others won’t, but it’s going to be fun to watch.
The horror genre died, but the zombie shambles on. Urban and dark fantasy, contemporary fantasy, paranormal romance – so much of it is horror. Only the genre has changed with its resurrection. Many people today are reading horror they just don’t call it horror. Horror, like romance, is an umbrella genre about an emotion and as such it keeps coming back. You can’t ever really, truly, kill it.
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Tennessee Hicks, author of Dirty Old Vampires and the Dead Things series, lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest with his wife and son on a small homestead. He manages the local public library, and holds emergency preparedness programs. After all, no one expects the zombie apocalypse.
Tennessee also writes contemporary & dark fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery under several different pen names, including the horror novel Downland writing as R.M. Haag. He has sold stories to On Spec Magazine, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Alien Skin Magazine. He holds a master degree from Seton Hill University in writing popular fiction, and as a member of the Oregon Writers Network, he also graduated from the master class taught by bestselling authors Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
His wife brings her insight and knowledge of genre fiction to editing for Glittering Throng Press, the couples’ publishing imprint. Additionally she maintains several blogs, reviewing books and sharing her experiences in educating their delightful son.