The spooky season is upon us. In honor of this time of year, the Writers’ Program reached out to our resident horror specialists to ask them about their relationship to their chosen genre.
Author and Horror Instructor Don Webb helps us ring in Halloween.
WP: Tell us about your background, (where did you grow up, etc?)
I was born in Amarillo, TX and have a speaking role in the documentary about the local plutonium bomb industry, Plutonium Circus. I attended the University of Texas and have taught High School Special Education for 20 years. My dad was Chickasaw Nation.
WP: Tell us a bit about you as a writer, please.
I’ve written 25 books including poetry, computer fraud prevention, murder mysteries, short story collections, and several books on “dark” occult practices. I’ve taught classes in writing since 2000.
WP: What brought you to writing?
My 1982 white Chevy 1.5 ton pick up truck.
WP: How did you find your way to horror?
Horror is the only form of writing about religious awe that does not seem cheesy.
WP: What is your all-time favorite horror novel? Please go into detail as to why.
Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. It is calm, quiet, unexpected and inevitable. Its characters are finely drawn. Its atmosphere is perfect. Miss Jackson does better than all of us.
WP: Do you think is the commonality in all great horror(mystery, etc) novels?
With the exception of the horror itself, they are firmly based in the “real” world.
WP: Why do you think horror can carry across cultures?
Our time on this busy earth is brief. That which surrounds our time is dark and mysterious. That mystery is always seeking to break in, and it seldom loves us. It grew closer to you as you were reading these words. It is looking over your shoulder.
WP: What is unique about writing horror? (Anything about the process? Drawing inspiration?)
Horror can be anywhere, at any time. Every car trip, every walk upstairs, every overdue library book, every strange sigil written in the graffiti at the bus stop, every sigh of your sleeping lover next to you. Each of these (and a thousand more things) are thin paper patches standing between the Strange and the Unforgiving and your fragility. As soon as you realize that you live in a scratch-off world but will never be the lottery winner, horror is your friend as inevitable as death herself.
WP: What do you find (in real life) truly horrifying?
Humans’ ability to adjust to and accept anything.
WP: As Halloween season approaches is there anything you like to do to get in a spooky mood?
Music, movies, long walks at twilight, listening to the cry of owls at night, or any good horror writing — even sometimes my own
WP: Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Horror writing is inevitable when you discover that Horror and Ecstasy are the two main Gods that can slay the demons of Boredom and the Ordinary. It is a game we all play, the horror fan simply knows it.
Thank you Don for your insights. Don will be teaching Horror Novel II this coming Winter Quarter. Look out for his name on the schedule. And Happy Halloween!