Although this is a rambling article about reintroducing yourself to genres of fiction that you’ve abandoned for one reason or another, I’m going to have to start by talking about TV shows, movies and myself for quite a while.
There’s (sort of) a good reason for this which I hope will become apparent to you later. But, if you don’t want to read this, then just skip to the last few paragraphs (where I boldly state the obvious).
Anyway, a while back I discovered an American TV show called “Supernatural“. Since the DVD boxsets of the first two seasons were going cheap second-hand and I’d read that it was the closest modern equivalent to “The X-Files”, I had to check it out.
I’d expected it to be a paranormal mystery series (with some horror elements) but what I didn’t expect was that it was an actual honest-to-god horror series.
Seriously, even the pilot episode is basically a forty-minute long Hollywood-quality horror movie. This caught me by surprise because it made me wonder “when was the last time I actually watched a proper horror movie?”
It took me a while to work out the answer, but it’s been about a year and a half. Likewise, it’s probably been about a year and a half since I read a vaguely decent horror novel (a book called “Dead Space: Martyr” By B. K.Evenson, if anyone is interested).
In that moment, I fully realised just how much I’d abandoned the horror genre in recent years.
You see, back when I was a teenager, horror was one of my favourite genres. I used to eagerly read old second-hand splatterpunk novels from the 70s, 80s and 90s. I used to scour charity shops for anything by Shaun Hutson, James Herbert or Clive Barker. Or, failing that, I’d go for any book with a suitably gruesome or gloomy picture on the cover.
I used to eagerly record notorious horror movies on VHS when they were shown on TV (since I looked too young to lie about my age convincingly enough to buy most of them on video) and, on a holiday to France when I was about fourteen or fifteen, I stocked up on American zombie movies on DVD after learning that the French have a commendably laid-back attitude to film censorship.
Even in my late teens and early twenties, I made a point of seeing almost all of the “Saw” movies at the cinema. In fact, the only “Saw” movie I haven’t seen at the cinema was the very first one.
When I was younger, horror was cool, horror was rebellious, horror was dramatic and horror was cathartic. And, yet, now that I’m in my mid-late twenties – I’ve pretty much abandoned my beloved horror genre.
Sure, I still pay lip service to liking the horror genre on an occasional basis – but I seem to have moved away from enjoying proper frightening horror stories, games and movies.
Maybe this is just a sign that my tastes are changing, or maybe it’s an unconscionable dereliction of one the most crucially formative genres of my creative imagination? After all, one of the reasons I got interested in writing fiction when I was a teenager was because I wanted to write horror stories like Shaun Hutson did.
Anyway, this made me think about how to get back into genres that you’ve since abandoned. Sometimes this isn’t a particularly difficult thing to do, since you can just pick up where you left off. But, if you’ve been away for a while, it can be difficult to re-create the sense of enthusiasm you once had.
So, I guess that the best way to get back into a genre that you’ve abandoned is to do it gradually. To start off with more mainstream and/or less intense examples of the genre (eg: I might currently find “Supernatural” to be a genuinely scary TV show, but my teenage self would have probably just laughed at it and/or wondered why there wasn’t more blood and guts) and to gradually work your way back up to the things that you used to enjoy.
To give you another example of what I mean – I used to write a lot of horror fiction when I was younger and, even after I lost interest in writing fiction, I still enjoyed the idea of making horror comics.
But, since I’ve been away from the horror genre for such a long time, my more recent horror comics tend to be more comedic than frightening. But at least they’re loosely-related to the horror genre.
Either that, or you could just re-visit the books/movies/ games etc.. that you used to like and go on from there. I guess that the important thing is just to return to the genre.
(And, if anyone is still wondering about the movie reference earlier – it’s based on the alternate ending to “Army Of Darkness”. Interestingly, when I bought this film on an ex-rental VHS when I was 14, it contained this ending instead of the “proper” ending).
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂