Guess what, we have a guest blogger, we are truly honoured and humbled that Christina Henry wants to write for our page. YES she wants to promote her new books, that goes without saying but this is so much better than an advert, it’s different, it’s fun, it’s fresh and it gives me the chance to have a little power nap…
Here you go Christina, the floor, the stage, the space is yours…
THE CLAWS THAT CATCH by Christina Henry, YES that’s me. I am so happy to be given the chance to write on the Haunted Magazine webpage, not only am I big fan of the magazine and of the paranormal in general I get to promote my new books for FREE, I see that as a win-win situation. So, here goes, please enjoy!!
I love a good monster. In fact, I’ve often said that all my favourite movies have monsters that eat people’s faces off (this is actually true, as my top three favourite movies are JAWS, ALIEN, and THE THING).
There’s something about a great monster in film or stories that touches a primal nerve inside us – the part of us that’s afraid of what hides in the dark or underneath the bed, the part of us that see shadows moving when there’s nothing there.
I tend to think that the scariest monsters are the ones with human faces, the ones that you think might be friendly but are actually there to harm you. In my own book, ALICE, Alice meets a lot of monsters that look like humans but have actually lost their humanity long ago.
These are my personal favourite literary monsters, the ones that have terrified (and sometimes moved) me:
5) The demon in William Peter Blatty’s THE EXORCIST – This is one of the first books I recall that scared me down to the bone. The very idea of a faceless evil entity that could take over your body was incredibly frightening. Once something like that has taken over you have no agency, no way to fight back. Physical powerlessness is so much worse, in my mind, than being able to face and try to fight a monster.
4) The ghost in M.R. James’ “Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad” – In this particular story a professor named Parkins finds a whistle in a Templar ruin with two Latin phrases on it. One of the phrases is translated as “Who is it that comes”. Of course, the professor SHOULD NOT blow the whistle, and he does. The scene in the inn when Parkins discovers he is not alone is full of brilliant suspense.
3) The creature from Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN – It seems like an obvious choice, but the monster is iconic for a reason. He looks monstrous but he is not, at first, monstrous at all. It is Victor Frankenstein’s abandonment of him and the way people respond to his appearance that makes him a killer. There are so many themes at work in this book – among others the notion of science without guiding morality and the idea that evil is made and not born. It’s a classic that everyone should read.
2) “Buffalo Bill” from Thomas Harris’ THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS – The film version of this story was so influential and Anthony Hopkins’ performance as Hannibal Lecter so enduring that it’s sometimes difficult to remember that the monster they’re chasing in the book is actually Buffalo Bill (Jame Gumb), who kidnaps women so he can remove their skin. Buffalo Bill is the perfect example of a monster who doesn’t look like a monster – he lures these women by using their kindness (which, incidentally, was the same technique used by real-life serial killer Ted Bundy).
1) It from Stephen King’s IT: I’ve saved this one for last, mostly because the way I feel about it has changed over the years. The first time I read this book I was about 16, and I found it so frightening that I was convinced I would never read it again. At 16 I wasn’t so far off the age of the kids in the books – I remembered the way I felt at their age and how an entity that could morph into anything would have scared the crap out of me.
When I was 28 I decided to read it again, mostly because it had been a long time and I remembered how much the book had scared me and wondered if it still would. It did, but the fear felt less personal than it had when I was young. I was more engaged with the characters AS characters and felt their struggle against this huge evil entity but didn’t relate it to myself in any way.
Recently (because I am apparently a masochist) I decided to give IT a go again. As a 41-year-old adult with a ten-year-old son my terror response to this book has taken on a completely different tenor. The fact that King uses a clown with balloons – a symbol of childhood happiness – to lure children to their horrific deaths was much, much worse for me as a parent than when I was a younger reader. The fear comes from a place where you can’t protect your child from the imaginary monster under the bed because the monster isn’t imaginary at all.
It’s fascinating to me that King managed with the same story to tap into three different veins with the same reader, and the only thing that changed was the age of person reading. I think it really speaks to how readers bring their own experience/biases to every book they read and the way a book is a dialogue between the writer and the reader – a fluid, rather than fixed, relationship.
That's me done, I hope you liked, hey Paul, yo Haunted Magazine guy, YES you snoring like a pig, you can wake up now. I am done. Thanks for having me.... can you wake up and plug my books now please.
Thanks Christina, I needed that little snooze. You can find more about Christina by visiting her website and she also features in Haunted Magazine issue 16, a WiP special (Women in Paranormal), http://www.christinahenry.net/
I am also duty bound to say that she has two fantastic books out. (Alice and Red Queen), joking apart they are bloody fantastic.