Sally Bosco closes out our Many Genres, One Craft interview series. A writer of dark fiction, she finds her place in an area not well explored in the horror genre: Young Adult fiction. And what do many teenagers enjoy these day? Manga. So join us as Sally tells us about horror’s role and perception in both the YA and Manga audiences as well as few other tid bits on women writer of horror and horror’s relation to paranormal romance.
NHRS: In Many Genres, One Craft, you write about manga as another approach for writers to create stories. Have you noticed a difference in the use of and the perception of horror in manga than in western literature?
SB: In western horror the monster is typically all bad. In manga the monster can be redeemed, a good guy can turn into a monster or the monster can come from an unexpected source. For example, in Long Dream by Junji Ito, a man notices that his horrifying dreams are becoming longer and longer, seemingly stretching into eternity. The monster of the story turns out the be the doctor who was initially trying to help him. Manga turns our usual plot expectations on their heads.
NHRS: Do you think children to young adult readers find it easier to grasp horror themes in manga than in literature?
SB: I think it’s easier for young readers to grasp horror themes in manga because the stories tends to be less black and white (and therefore less moralistic) than in western horror. For example, in Pet Shop Of Horrors by Matsuri Akino, Count D runs a pet shop that deals in rather unusual pets. Each pet that goes out of his shop comes with a story, and many of those stories have a bit of a twist to them. In some cases the “monster pets” actually have a good effect on the people who adopt them. Therefore, the monster is not always “bad” in the traditional sense. I think that reading manga assists young people in being able to see the shades of gray that exist in life.
NHRS: What are some, if any, challenges to writer horror for the YA and younger audience?
From my experience, kids really like what I write. I take to the YA voice naturally, so it isn’t a stretch for me at all. My problem occurs when older people (I should say authority figures like parents or librarians) read my writing and think it isn’t appropriate for younger audiences. Mind you, the violence in my books is really mild. There’s a slight amount of sex, but it’s off-screen. I’ve had YA reviewers refuse to review The Werecat Chronicles because it’s too adult, yet it’s well within the parameters of popular YA literature. Also, I think because it’s billed as paranormal, people expect the “sparkly vampire” kind of trope and mine are much more deadly than that.
NHRS: As a female horror writer, what are you thoughts on the perceived bias towards female writers in horror.
My thought is that the individual makes his/her own limitations. If you’re female and a good horror writer and are willing to persevere, you’ll find an audience.
The “sparkly vampire” type of paranormal romance novels share almost nothing with horror, except possibly that good usually triumphs. However, in books by some of the better para-rom writers, there is a sense of evil and impending doom. I like to make my “monster” heroes or heroines conflicted, not inherently evil, but not all good, either.
NHRS: If there was one thing about Horror that you don’t think most people know, what would that be?
Anyone who objects to young people reading horror should realize that horror is one of the most morally positive genres. The monster is mostly always defeated and good usually triumphs in the end. There is always a positive message, but it’s usually disguised enough to make it palatable to readers.
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Sally Bosco writes young adult dark fiction. She’s inexplicably drawn to the uncanny, the shades of gray between light and dark, and the area where your mind hovers as you’re falling off to sleep. She loves writing young adult fiction because she strongly relates to teenage angst, the search for self-identity and the feelings of not fitting in.
Originally from Connecticut, she graduated from the University of Florida with a BA in Graphic Design and then went on to complete her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University. Her published novels include Alt.Death.com. In spite of her affinity for the dark and macabre, she lives in sunny Florida.
Her newest book, The Werecat Chronicles will be the first in a series of books about the present and past of the fascinating lives of the werecats.