Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh The Horror

I am a chickenshit.

I was born a chickenshit, and feel fairly confident in stating that I will probably live the rest of my life with a nightlight on and hiding my eyes behind my hands during the scary parts.

It seems harsh, I know. Or an exaggeration.

It is not.

It's been over a decade since I've watched a horror movie. The movie that made me ban myself from the genre was Urban Legends. My college roommates and I watched it at a friend's apartment and then drove back to the dorms afterwards. I got stuck in the backseat and although it was just a small car we were in, and I was only inches from the front seat passengers, I was AFRAID sitting back there by myself. Walking back to the dorms in the dark - even with my friends beside me - was excruciating. The next morning I was still freaked out when I found myself in a bathroom shower stall by myself.

This wasn't the only scary movie incident.

I also saw the first two Scream movies. The beginning scene of the first one, with Drew Barrymore, scared me so badly that to this day if I am in the house alone at night, I cannot feel comfortable near uncovered windows. Seriously.

And yet, I thought it would be a good idea to go with my friends to see Scream 2 on opening weekend. It was going okay, until the scene where the bad guy was searching the sorority house (I think, it was a long time ago and my memory is foggy) for the girl who was hidden in a closet (or something, again - foggy).

THIS, by the way, is the thing that makes horror so very painful for me. The screechy violins, thudding hearts, OMG DO NOT GO IN THE BASEMENT - suspense.

So, I am in my movie chair curled in the fetal position, repeating my mantra of "It's just a movie, Kate. It's not real. It's just a movie", when my friend, Melissa, thought it would be funny to grab and arm and whisper "Boo!"

I screamed. Loudly. And then the completely packed movie theater laughed at me. I wasn't even embarrassed. Honestly, I was just relieved that I hadn't peed my pants too.

So, yes, I am a chickenshit. And I'm okay with that. Really, truly, I am.

So why mention it?

Well, it seems that I have quite unintentionally written a horror novel. Of course, I had no idea that's what it was - while I was querying it - I'd been calling it a paranormal mystery. But then my wonderful editor at HarperTeen told me that they were calling it "literary horror". My reaction to this news was similar to when my college friend explained to me what Tori Amos's song Icicle was really about - sort of a, "What?! No. It's about winter and there's some stuff about the bible and then this part... Ooohl. OOOOH-oooh. Welllll. Hmmm... Okay, yeah, I get it now."

In accepting that I have written a horror novel, it's forced me to re-examine the genre as a whole and where ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE fits into it. I am also learning the different horror descriptors like creepy and chilling and re-accessing my old definitions for those words.

To help myself do this, I've put together the little visual guide below. It's helped me understand the different terms that are being used to describe ALP and put them into context. Perhaps this will also help readers who are wondering what types of scares they can expect from ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE.




Kate Karyus Quinn is the author of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, a literary horror novel coming in 2013 from HarperTeen. You can find out more about her book on Goodreads, and read more about Kate on her blog or her website.


  1. Haha! I'm a chickenshit too! I remember being terrified while trying to find my car in the parking lot with friends after seeing Urban Legends! I tell people horror movies scare me, movies like Scream and The Sixth Sense and they laugh at me and say those aren't REAL horror movies.

    Well, I would say I don't like horror novels, but I LOVED Another Little Piece. So what do I know? :)

  2. That is too funny. I like scary books and can enjoy 'most' scary movies unless it involves evil ghosts. Then I'm a quivering mass of "don't leave me alone."

  3. Yep, I can't watch horror films, I believe in them waaay too much. Stupid lovely imagination. Can't wait for Another Little Piece though.

  4. Eee, LOVE this post! I'm a scaredy-cat myself. And yes, Scream IS scary, no matter what anybody says!! Even more excited to read Another Little Piece now--books are made better when they contain that which scares us!!

    And yes to Tori's Icicle. I still play it on Easter sometimes. :)

    Truly awesome post.

  5. Thanks for the comments everyone! It is good to know I am not the only chickenshit out there. ;)

  6. I love your cover, underneath the scary bits. Great post. I'm a bit of a chicken shit myself. Will I be able to read your book?

  7. Ha! Love it, Kate. How weird is it that what comes out of the pen (or the keyboard) when we write can surprise even ourselves?