Tag Archives: scary stories

Women in Horror: Chantal Noordeloos

WiHMX-horizontal-WhiteFrom 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 Noorabout 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.

Noor2For 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 Noor3seances, 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 Noor4those 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 Noor5unless 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.

Noor6So 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

US: http://tinyurl.com/nljwcvs

UK: http://tinyurl.com/lcnxhxt

Even Hell Has Standards: Pride

US: http://tinyurl.com/pl8mgmk

UK: http://tinyurl.com/qhsygjr

Even Hell Has standards Wrath:

US http://tinyurl.com/z3wk8xa

UK: http://tinyurl.com/zbluqyg

Deeply Twisted:

US: http://tinyurl.com/ouvegb8

UK: http://tinyurl.com/k49v7t2

 

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Women in Horror: Tabatha Wood

WiHMX-horizontal-White

Today, from New Zealand, I have Tabatha Wood who talks about writing and why she finds horror important.

Witches Brew – A Recipe For Writing Horror

Why do I write horror? It is a question often asked of me, and one I have asked of myself more than a few times. To most, I appear to be a cheerful and light-hearted person, although perhaps tinged with a slightly Gothic aroma. Why do I take such delight in writing tales of the dark and the distressing? Why create stories that get under the skin of my readers, or that leave them with a nasty aftertaste?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, probably ever since I learned to hold a pen. I tried hard to write the stories that I most wanted to read, the books that I hadn’t yet found. My parents bought me a typewriter and I churned out hundreds of short stories, carefully cutting and pasting them to make books of my own. This was before the dawn of the personal computer, when cut and paste meant literally that. I’ve always believed that good work requires hard work. You have to pour a part of your soul into what you do.

Since my early teens, horror stories have been my favorites. They were the ones I could Wood freestocks-org-153858-unsplashget lost in. The ones where the survival of the characters was not fully guaranteed. Absolutely anything could happen, and usually did. As a tween I started with an appetizer of Point Horror books, most notably Pike and Stein, then grew fat on a diet of King, Koontz, Barker and Hutson, enjoying every gruesome chunk of plot-twist and gore. It was female authors such as Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice and Daphne du Maurier who made me realize that writing horror was not solely a man’s game.

My early horror stories were monstrous, as in, they almost always focused on actual monsters or ghosts. I hadn’t yet had the life experience to refine my horror-writing palate. I do remember writing one in particular about my childhood toys coming to life, harboring malicious intent. Hardly an original concept, but I utterly terrified my twelve-year-old self. I tore the pages into teeny, tiny pieces and threw them into the bottom of the kitchen garbage bin. No one but me ever read that story, but I realised right then that I had the capacity to scare.

Fast forward a few years and the first books I actually got published were not horror stories; they were academic guides for professionals working in education. I was delighted to be published, but also strangely disappointed. This was not really the kind of writer I had aspired to be.

Wood b_w_headshot_horrorI fell into writing horror again quite by accident. Growing older, I experienced and recovered from, both mental and physical illness. I realized that horror is not always monsters hiding underneath the bed, or a slavering beast at the door. Horror is also loneliness, doubt, depression and loss. Horror can be being the new girl at the office, knowing no one and drowning in self-doubt. It can be a terminal cancer diagnosis, or the threat of losing a parent or child. For me, horror was waking up every morning with devastating chronic pain, not knowing how I would make it through the day but accepting that I must. I take these concepts and throw them headlong into nightmarish worlds, where no usual or expected rules apply, just to see what new demons emerge. Gender stereotyping tells us that women are allegedly more in touch with their emotions. If this is true, I am happy to admit I use it to my advantage, especially when I really want to chill my readers.

Good horror will leave you with a lingering feeling of unease. An itch in the brain that you can’t quite scratch, but equally you can’t ignore. It should squirm around in your head for a while, leave you still thinking about it for a few days afterwards. When I put my characters in the darkest and most terrible situations, I know that it is often what I don’t tell my readers, that will scare them the most. I recognize that, whilst it might be fun, I don’t have to write about blood and gore to elicit a visceral reaction. What is more frightening; being forced to fight a tentacled creature from Hell, or helplessly watching it steal your only child? As a mother, I know which idea scares me more.

Writing horror gives me the power to get into my reader’s heads and make them question all the things they believe. It’s a recipe I’ve worked hard to perfect. I can take an everyday experience shared by all, stir in a believable character the reader can identify or at least empathize with, add a pinch of the weird, strange, or supernatural, and serve up a truly stomach-churning meal.

Tabatha Wood lives in Wellington, New Zealand, with her husband and two boys. She spends most of her days educating her children at home, and in her free time she writes short stories, online blog articles, and the occasional poem. Her stories are mostly horror, fantasy, and suspense; while her online blog focuses more on her life and experiences in New Zealand. 

Outside of writing, she has organised charity events to help promote and support equality and women’s rights; makes and sells her own jewellery; and immerses herself in the world of cosplay−often dressing up as superheroes to help fundraise for a good cause. 

She started an online collective in 2017 which promotes using writing and creativity as a tool for positive mental health, and helps run a regular monthly group and workshops to support other female writers in Wellington. She enjoys writing pieces which challenge the way people think, or offer a fresh perspective on the world.

She is currently working on a collection of short horror stories: Dark Winds Over Wellington: Chilling Tales of the Weird & the Strange due to be published in March 2019 by Wild Wood Books.

 You can find her online at http://tabathawood.com/ and read a story from her collection here.

 

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