Today we welcome author S.A. Hunt, someone I completely agree with in regards to horror cliches.
But she’ll have to battle hog-monsters, a city full of raving maniacs, and a killer henchman called the “Serpent” if she wants to end the coven’s reign over the town of Blackfield once and for all.
How long have you been writing horror/thrillers and what drew you to the genre?
This is my first official horror release, but I’ve been pecking at horror for a very long time–ten to fifteen years, at least. I wrote half of a novel called Dime several years ago, but it was poorly conceived and not very well laid out. It concerned an Army veteran that was injured by a pipe bomb trap full of coins and a dime got embedded in his brain, causing him to hallucinate all these horrible things. Some of Dime was reused in my latest releases, Ten Thousand Devils and Malus Domestica, namely the antagonist Marcus from Devils and Malus character Kenway’s false leg.
I’ve also written a handful of horror short stories, available on Amazon and Wattpad: “Talent Show,” “Chimneysweep,” “Pocket Change,” and “The Hidden.” And then there’s a lot of horror in my main fantasy series, Outlaw King, much as there was in the Dark Tower, the epic that inspired it.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Oh, man… always a hard question. It might as well be “why did you have that crazy dream last night?” or “why do you bite your nails?” There’s a logical evolution of concept, but it’s hard to pin down that motivation, you know?
I think it might have all stemmed from the word “coventry”. I started thinking about the word late one night and it gradually separated into “coven tree”, and I imagined a coven of witches all worshipping a sort of demonic apple tree. I wondered, “why would they worship this tree?” and came up with the thought, “maybe it devours souls and turns them into life-giving apples.” Naturally this progressed to “how did this soul-eating apple tree come about?” and then, of course, how do witches do anything? With black magic. They had to kill somebody to create that tree.
But who did this murder hurt? That’s how protagonist Robin came about.
Anyway, that’s a stream of thought way of explaining it, but that’s usually how it happens. You’re sitting in the bathroom at your morning constitutional, one thing leads to another, and suddenly you’ve got the germ of a book sitting front and center in your head and you can’t get to your computer fast enough.
If you could erase one horror cliché, what would it be?
Jump scares. Both movies and video games rely on them waaaay too much these days. Good horror is created with atmosphere and tension…dread, paranoia, and even relief, when used intermittently. Good sound engineering goes a long way toward accomplishing that, as does using the monster sparingly and only showing it when absolutely necessary. People are afraid of what they don’t know and what they don’t see, and the best directors take advantage of that fear.
What are you working on now?
The untitled fourth book in my Outlaw King fantasy gunslinger series and the action-horror sequel to Malus, Malus Domestica II: King of the Road.
Favorite horror movie and book?
My favorite horror movie: At first it was between The Ring, Insidious, Evil Dead 2, but when I thought about it, I had to say Evil Dead 2. I mean come on, it’s got Bruce Campbell. The other two movies were masterpieces of atmosphere and mystery, but you can’t beat the Chin.
My favorite horror novel: It’s a tossup between Stephen King’s Rose Madder and Misery. Some of his scariest and most tense stories and sequences are completely grounded in reality, outside of paranormal influence. Annie Wilkes was almost a carbon copy of my ex-wife, right down to her delusion that wheelchair-bound Paul went upstairs while she was out, so Misery really hit home for me. It was terrifying.
Rose Madder was an exercise in true visceral horror King would revisit later in his short story Big Driver, and evidence of what great swaths of The Shining could have been: the paranoia of a vulnerable, traumatized individual. Stephen is masterful at putting a reader in the shoes of abused characters, and he plays this to full effect with Rose McClendon.