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Have I Stumbled into Writing Horror? #Writing #NewRelease #YA

Have I Stumbled into Writing Horror?

When my publisher added my new release to their catalogue, I noticed they listed it under horror. I was about to correct them when I glanced at the extract I’d added to a guest post and realised there was a lot of blood mentioned!

Once I’d completed my Guardians trilogy and nestled it comfortably in the fantasy genre, I began to pen Oath Breaker, a werewolf novel, always thinking I was sticking to the fantasy theme albeit with a more urban feel.

Oath Breaker

With a recent battle against depression still hanging over me, I realise that my writers’ voice has taken on a much darker tone. The third book in my trilogy, Guardians of the Lost Lands was a little more disturbing than its predecessors. However, has my voice changed so much that I’m now crossing from fantasy to horror?

What is a horror novel? For me, I immediately think about Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker. On my bookshelf, I have so many books by James Herbert and Stephen King who always seem to terrify the living daylights out of me. Horror is about a fear of the unknown, and feeling like our safety is in peril. It’s not necessarily about the blood and gore, but more about the psychological impact on the reader.

I personally don’t think Oath Breaker is a horror novel. However, it does have elements of fear and risk. The belief that our life could be in danger is ‘horrific,’ and so maybe all supernatural books have a touch of horror about them.

Reading horror fiction is something I thoroughly enjoy and to think I could stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the outstanding horror writers’ of the day is ludicrous. However, I will happily follow in their footsteps and continue to evolve my young adult supernatural stories.

Perhaps the tough period in my life was a blessing, and I’ve now discovered a new way of working that adds another aspect to my books. Maybe it’s always been there, and I just needed to get a couple of books under my belt to test my writing muscles.

Whether you see Oath Breaker as a supernatural, or a horror novel, I hope you enjoy meeting the characters and following the storyline. It was a joy to write this book, and I’m so proud of how it’s developed.

Want to read an excerpt? Here is the opening scene from Oath Breaker:

The blue flashing lights pulsed through the fractured front window, illuminating the blood splatter on the walls. The click-click of the forensic team’s camera ate into the sterile silence as the officers combed through the living room.

Like something out of a macabre horror show the blood covered everything, coating the threadbare rug in front of the fireplace with its crimson wash. The splintered remains of the coffee table littered the overturned chair, and the smell of death clung to the walls.

I lifted my eyes to look at the police officer who knelt in front of me, his face a mask of professionalism even though he must be wishing he was anywhere but here.

‘Did you see who killed your dad?’ I slowly shook my head as the officer tried to determine what had happened.

‘Someone tried to kill you, miss. I want to help. Did you see who broke in and attacked you?’

I couldn’t answer. The words were stuck in my throat. How could I tell him that my dad was the one who tried to kill me and that a wolf had jumped through the window and ripped out his throat? Who would believe me?

The paramedic dropped a medical kit at my feet and began wiping the blood from my face, the sudden cold of the antiseptic wipe causing an involuntary shudder to run through my bones. The police officer and paramedic exchanged a look. The same kind of look that my teacher and headmaster used to give each other when I tried to cover up the bruises down my arms.

I slumped a little further into the kitchen chair, letting my long dark hair fall around my face.

‘Anything you can give us by way of a description will help.’ The police officer clicked the end of his pen and poised it over the clean sheet of notepaper.

‘Big,’ I managed to say. My lips cracked as I spoke, and I could feel a trickle of blood slide down the side of my mouth. The paramedic wiped it up before moving to the gash on my forehead.

‘It…he was big. Dark hair. Brown eyes.’

The officer noted it down and let out a deep sigh. Not the best description for them to go on, but it was all I could give him. If I’d told him the attacker was hairy, with sharp claws and fangs, the paramedic would have had me committed. I didn’t need to escape from one prison to then find myself in another.

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44 thoughts on “Have I Stumbled into Writing Horror? #Writing #NewRelease #YA”

  1. Very excited to read it Shelley! As you know, I was not into any of these genres before reading your Guardians, and now I am really quite thirsty for more! Thanks for opening my eyes! I now like fantasy YA books… will I cross over to Horror???!!! It’s waiting to be read on my Kindle as we speak!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just downloaded from Amazon and I can’t wait to read this. Not, you understand, because it’s a horror book (yuck) but because it’s a Shelley Wilson book (yay!) — so I already know it will be great.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, it might be a good thing, Shelley – I go ‘eek NO!’ to anything labelled ‘fantasy’, but will always give horror a look, so maybe there are lots of others like me!!!

    The opening is great, well done 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Terry. I know quite a few authors who jiggle around with their categories to see if it impacts on sales. I guess dropping one genre label might well attract a new audience. Watch this space! 🙂


  4. Shelly, what an interesting post. I think it’s very true that depression can introduce darker aspects into ones writing. Mine takes on a more psychological edge and like you I believe that is the real focus of proper horror as opposed to simply gore. I certainly aim to read you books and will add them to my reading list now too.

    WRT people like King; his work always drags you into character identification before the real @#*t kicks off. Often he brings an antagonist out of one of them unexpectedly. I just finished Full Dark, No Stars which is a brilliant series of three short stories exploring the human psyche of normal everyday people placed into extraordinary situations. As a writer it’s fascinating stuff.

    Great post and congratulations on the book too x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Don’t forget to contact me about you and your new book being a guest over on Hugh’s Views & News, Shelley. Lovely to know where this book has come from, even if not a very nice part of life, but look what it’s produced. And, you know me, dark and twisty is what I like to read and write, although I have been known to be blown off course and produce some surprises. I wish you every success with this book.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I know what you mean. Those tags/labels/categories can attract readers or turn them off. The decision has been made for you, I guess. 😉

    Am so looking forward to reading this one, Shelley, regardless of what genre it’s labeled as. It sounds fantastic and the excerpt is great. All good…fantasy, horror…whatever. A good book is a good book. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think books quite often crossover genres, I know with my reviews I more often than not pop books in 2/3 genres because they have elements of them all. Fantasy and supernatural books especially roam around into so many different realms and I think they naturally crossover into horror. I guess the key is for the initial genre listing to be best relevant to bring in new readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Okay, I really need to take a vacation from my life so I have time to dive into your books! After reading that opening, your series is now bumped up on my “to be read” list past the Jim Butcher (one of my all time favorite authors) book sadly collecting dust on my shelf!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow! Oath Breaker’s opening makes it a must read! Thanks for sharing, Shelley! One of the exercises we did at a recent writer’s conference I attended was to think about who our audience is and isn’t. I like how you considered your publisher’s genre selection and instead of making the switch chose to be open to a new audience. I think that could end up being a happy “accident.” I learned through the conference exercise that my own novel might not appeal to every reader (obviously) but the key is to find the piece within it that MIGHT appeal to him or her. To do that requires openness and an ability to see beyond our own intentions and recognize our books, once they leave our brains, no longer belong to us alone. You did that beautifully and I know Oath Breaker will be a success!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Angela. Your writer’s conference sounds great. I’ve enjoyed the reaction I’ve had so far to Oath Breaker. It’s certainly made me rethink the marketing strategy! As you say, once it’s out there, it no longer belongs to us alone. Thanks again x

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I enjoy horror from time to time Shelley. Read your extract – definitely enjoyed. It’s understandable that writing in a different style happened after a bout of depression. So glad that the writing was cathartic and you are feeling better now. Take care. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Shelley,

    I’m happy you’re feeling better. It’s cool that your dark place helped you write this book. Usually I don’t read supernatural, but your excerpt had me hooked. I loved the psychological element of it was the dad who tried to kill the main character. Horror’s my favorite genre, and I’d say your book fits right in.

    Keep smiling,

    Liked by 1 person

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