From the Netherlands, Chantal Noordeloos talks about the thrill of horror. What scares us and why we love it, today in Women in Horror.
Oh, the Horror…
What is it about fear that we find so incredibly enticing? Not everyone feels this way, of course. There are plenty of “sane”people in this world that stick to being drawn to less terrifying genres, but to us horror “freaks” (let’s face it, we don’t mind being called freaks, do we?) it’s an almost delicious feeling to be afraid. We look for it, and are often disappointed when a movie or a novel doesn’t succeed in scaring us.
It’s not easy to scare, (trust me, I’m a writer, I know about these things) because fear is about as personal as humor. What is scary to some might be a little dull to others. What turns me into a quivering jelly, hiding under my duvet, might be a big snooze fest to you. But we horror fans seek that which makes us cringe or shudder.
For me it started at a very young age. I would make my aunt read this story called “Ghost Ship” so often, she actually faked having lost the book to get out of reading it. I was fascinated with fairytales, which were pretty much my first step to horror. Witches were shoved in ovens and burned, wicked stepsisters cut off their own toes and heels to make a shoe fit, and one evil queen was trapped in a barrel in which someone had studded with nails, after which they rolled her down a hill. Charming stuff… and in hindsight it may explain my current psyche.
From fairytales I moved to ghost stories, and tweeny seances, where I would be accompanied by my fellow pimply faced giggly peers as we summoned spirits using a makeshift Ouija board (if you turned it around it was my mom’s scrabble game) and glass. We took ourselves completely seriously, of course. With an ominous voice we would ask the spirits to grace us with their presence, and then continue to spook each other so badly that at least one of my friends would end in tears, and I wouldn’t sleep soundly for nights after.
Some of my bolder friends had even seen horror movies, and they would tell the narratives in full detail. I was afraid of Freddie Kruger years before I ever saw A Nightmare on Elm Street. To be honest, I was much more afraid of him before I ever saw those films than I was after. After hearing the story of Bloody Mary, I avoided looking in mirrors all together for several weeks. As if I would accidentally call her by just thinking of her name whilst looking at my own reflection. It was very silly, but the mind can play nasty tricks on you, and my imagination has always been very active. Ever since I was very young, it has never been too difficult to scare me, because I am a big fat coward, and I’m utterly squeamish to boot. There, I said it.
Things haven’t changed much since I was younger. As an adult I can still utterly lose my composure after a spooky movie, and will absolutely turn on all the lights on my way to the bathroom. I am the most ironic horror writer ever, because I’m afraid of everything. And I mean EVERYTHING.
My own writing can freak me out. In fact, I am not satisfied with my (horror) writing unless it does. One of the things that’s so delicious about writing, is that it’s as immersive as reading. When I create a tale, I’m there, living it. So, there are absolutely moments that I terrify myself so much that I need to take a little break and look at cat gifs or something. Anything to think “happy thoughts.” My husband can actually tell what genre I’m writing by what mood I’m in. If I am jittery and skittish, I’m probably writing horror. There are subjects within horror that can make me gloomy and depressed. Especially if I have to do a lot of research. For example, one of my main characters was a child bride. I was in a funk for days. Or when I wrote about Aokigahara (the Japanese suicide forest) in my last novel it really messed with me.
Yet… I seem to enjoy the fear. As much as I relish being afraid, I get an equally big kick out of scaring people. Horror is such a fascinating subject to write about. There is something almost beautiful in death and even gore. Something sensual in the darkness. There is no greater compliment to me than when someone tells me they were terrified when they read my work. (Well, perhaps the only greater compliment is if I made someone cry.) I delight in creating monsters that will keep people up at night. Even if I can’t frighten everyone, I write for those people that I do scare.
So what is it about fear that we enjoy? My theory is that we like not feeling safe all the time. It gives us a nice contrast to our daily lives. There is something comforting in crawling under the covers, and telling yourself that they’re only stories, or that it was just a movie. Perhaps horror tickles our inner masochist. Perhaps it just makes us realize that we’re alive. Whatever it is, it’s a passion that connects us all, and it will keep challenging writers, artists and film makers to find new ways to scare us. I, for one, certainly enjoy that challenge.
Chantal Noordeloos always wanted to be a mermaid or bard when she was younger, and since she could be neither, writer was the closest thing. She shares her real life adventures with many of her loved ones, among which are her wacky husband and her daughter, who will one day grow up to be a charismatic supervillain (she already has the mad cackle down).
You wouldn’t expect someone who is scared of the dark and who everyone calls “Noodles” to be a horror writer, yet Chantal has written things that made people want to keep their nightlights on at bedtime. She also dabbles in other genres, but is most known for her darker work.
At heart, she will always be a storyteller; she enjoys creating new worlds for people to escape to, and creating new characters for readers to meet.
If you’re interested in finding out more about her horror novels, you can use the following links.
Angel Manor: Lucifer Falls I
Even Hell Has Standards: Pride
Even Hell Has standards Wrath: