Many fans of horror, amateur and professional alike, have devoted themselves to blogging about the thrills, chills, and no-frills side of the genre as seen in cinema and print. In this
ongoing series that highlights the writers behind the blogs, we meet the unique personalities and talents that make the online horror scene so engaging. Up close and personal.
In this installment, Chad Helder of Unspeakable Horror tells us how his unintentions paved the royal road to his horror writing career in poetry, fiction, and comic books.
The horror genre gained my fascination in the turbulent years of Junior High School. The first most important thing I remember was reading Poe in Ms. Shoemaker's English class. I stayed after class one day to ask her if writing horror stories made Poe more mentally unstable, and she told me that writing horror stories probably helped him release his demons and made him more stable. I liked that answer, and I wrote a couple of horror stories in Junior High, a story about a phantom hockey player and a story about an insane person with fog in his mind.
I really returned to the horror genre in college. I didn't intend to focus on the horror genre, but I clearly became preoccupied with horror themes and motifs. As a freshman in college, I wrote a one-act play about a young man whose dog is run over by the local police detective who is hunting for "the grapefruit killer." I wrote my very first poem that year, a poem about a young with mice in his pockets who is being
followed by an ominous owl. As a sophomore, I tried writing my first novel, and I finished it: a story about an underground murder organization that manufactures a poison called "The Crunch," and an insane man who lives in his brother's attic and communes with a world of alien spirits. Then, I started taking some serious poetry workshops in college, and the horror genre popped up right in the center of the frame. I didn't intend to write about horror, but it featured prominently in my poetry. I wrote about Satan haunting me while I grew up as the son of a minister, and I wrote about a phantom hitchhiker, and a Satanic crossing guard at an elementary school.
I still really wanted to write a horror novel, even though my poetry far, far outshined my prose. After graduate school, I started working on a novel called Bartholomew of the Scissors. While I was working on this novel, I started to discover a subgenre of horror stories with gay themes and characters, and I started visiting websites like Queer Horror and Camp Blood. I began making connections between my fascination with the horror genre and my problems with coming out of the closet. I paired this with some literary criticism, and I started my Unspeakable Horror blog and website in 2006.
Soon after that I met Vince Liaguno through the website. He offered lots of really interested comments on my blog, so I invited him to be a blogger on the website. He blogged about slasher movies on Unspeakable Horror for over a year, and then he started the current incarnation of Slasher Speak. This new working relationship led to the Unspeakable Horror anthology. Vince and I read submissions from October until May, often about 35 submissions a month. From those submissions we put together the queer horror anthology that launched Dark Scribe press and won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Anthology.
Bartholomew of the Scissors never worked out as a novel, but I had the idea of turning it into a graphic novel when I met Darren from Bluewater Comics in Bellingham, Washington. The four issues of the comic book were released last fall, and the graphic novel version will be released right before Halloween this year. I'm really excited about the graphic novel version because I think the story works better as a cohesive whole, as opposed to being split up in four issues.
After my brief stint as a comic book writer, now I'm committed to writing poetry and showing reluctant poetry readers that poetry is much more than what they think. Next year, The Pop-Up Book of Death will be released from Queer Mojo Press, and this fall I'm finishing a book of horror poems for Dark Scribe press. I'm really excited about this collection because I've been writing some of my best and most disturbing poetry.Unspeakable Horror: The Queer Horror Site for Stoker Award-Winner Chad Helder