Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Guest Post: Chris Priestley

So today's the day - I've got the fantastic Chris Priestley here today at Writing from the Tub as part of his blog tour for World Book Day. I'm an absolutely huge fan so this is so exciting for me - if you've never read any of Chris' amazing short story collections then you really do have to, I promise you'll love them!

Today Chris is talking about the appeal of the horror genre so without further ado, I'll hand over to the man himself.

'I have a suspicion that horror is one of the oldest genres in fiction. Just as I can imagine our hunter-gatherer forebears coming home and telling a funny story I can easily see, as night fell and the clan was gathered around the fire, that scary tales were told.

Horror has always been part of myth and religion. If religion is an attempt to make sense of the world, then maybe horror is an acceptance that we cannot know everything – that there will always be areas of impenetrable darkness.

Certainly folk tales and fairy stories often contained large doses of horror. Anyone concerned about the effect of horror on the young should go and have a look at any of the pre-Disneyfied stories of the Brothers Grimm.

I deliberately began Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror with a walk through a wood, because I wanted to make use of that fairytale opening. The stories themselves are set not so much in the real Victorian or Edwardian era, but in the world of Victorian and Edwardian ghost stories.

Some genres seem like literary constructs: completely a product of writing. But horror, like love, is there in the world. I don’t mean that vampires or zombies are there, but the dread that produces these nightmares certainly is. Fear is ever present.

But whilst it is obvious why people want to read love stories, it is less clear why people want to frighten themselves unnecessarily, whether through books, movies or hurling themselves into a ravine with a length of elastic attached to their ankles.

We seem to enjoy scaring ourselves. Maybe we want to test ourselves; to see how we would cope with real fear. Of course this is utterly spurious. We know we aren’t really going to hit the ground. We know it’s only a story.

But even so. Maybe we just need to push that button every now and then to make sure it still works. Maybe through horror stories we get a chance to leap headlong into the dark – in the comforting knowledge that we have elastic tied to our ankles.'

So there we have it - do you agree with what Chris said about the horror genre? I definitely do, there's just something about being scared that I'm drawn to, what do you think?

If you enjoyed today's post then make sure you pop over to see the lovely Jenny at Wondrous Reads tomorrow, when Chris will be vsiting her blog. And check out the trailer below to accompany the tour - creepy, right?


  1. I love the new covers of the books. They are utterly gorgeous. Chris Priestley has such a talent for the macabre!

  2. Wonderful post. I've heard so many great things about these books, too!

  3. Thanks Vivienne. Glad you like the new jackets. And I hope the books don't disappoint if you get to read them, Luisa.

  4. Um ... Hollywood, what are you waiting for? Tales of Terror will RULE in 3D. :)

  5. Ha! I like your thinking. Do have any influence in that regard?


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