Horror for the Kiddos
For some of us, horror is just in our DNA. With the release of my first novel, Still Dark, I can see how the progression of my life has all led to this point. It’s Universal Monster books in the grade school library. It’s scanning the Scholastic order form for anything remotely scary and perking up when you see a new Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. It’s Monstervision with Joe Bob Briggs, Tales from the Darkside on Saturday nights, and EC Comics in the dark with a flashlight.
It’s not exactly something you learn, though being exposed to it can certainly help it bloom. I was always drawn to the spooky side of things, and it’s no big surprise that my son is as well. Now that I’m a dad, I’ve seen the question pop up on message boards, in internet think pieces, and even occasionally in person.
How young is too young to start enjoying horror?
There’s no set answer of course. For starters, the world I grew up in is so amazingly different from the one my son is growing up in. If you’re interested in it, now is a remarkable time to be a fan of horror. You can walk into a Toys R Us and walk out with a Freddy Krueger plush toy and a RJ MacCready action figure. The most popular show on plain old TV is gorier than most of the hardest R rated movies I grew up with. There are cutesy, family friendly Pop figures of cinema’s greatest monsters, and kids born decades after the fact just eat them up.
In other words, it’s a good time to be a kid who loves this stuff. I can only imagine with our endless stream of content that this era will spawn the perfect storm of horror writer, somebody a lot like my son who is as well-versed in the history of horror as any seven-year-old has ever been. He’s already starting to write his own stories, and they’re pretty damn good.
My guess is, there’s always been kids like us, drawn to the slightly darker side of things. I can imagine cavemen huddled around a fire, taking turns telling stories to the children about all the awful things hiding out there in the dark, waiting just out of sight to get them. Those stories were warnings and promises, a window into how dangerous the world could really be, and most of the kids responded accordingly, leaning away in terror.
But I’d guess, there was one in every group, leaning forward with a smile.
When a thunderous explosion rocks an idyllic cabin resort in the Great Smoky Mountains, animals and humans alike begin to act strange. Jim, along with his wife Laura and son, Sam, are cut off from the outside world, but they soon realize the true nightmare is just beginning…
Deep in the snow-covered woods, something is waiting. The creature calls itself Apex, and it’s a traveler. Reading the minds of those around it, Apex brings the terrifying fears hidden in the human psyche to life with a singular purpose: to kill any that stand in its way.
Locked in a fight for their lives, Jim and his family must uncover the truth behind Apex, and stop the creature from wreaking a horrifying fate upon the rest of the world!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR — D.W. Gillespie has been writing dark fiction in one form or another since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He’s been featured in multiple horror anthologies, both in print and online. Still Dark is his debut novel, and his second book, a short collection titled Handmade Monsters, arrives in 2017. He lives in Tennessee with his wife and two children.