For some, it's the sight of clowns. For others, it's crowds. For still others, desolate aloneness. For my wife's uncle - an imposing, dare-deviling ass kicker - it's the very notion of fresh peaches.
|One Man's Horror is Another Man's Fruit Salad|
For me, what is truly "scary" runs the gamut, and is rarely specific. A knocking behind a wall. The staring of unfamiliar, unblinking eyes. Cramped, inescapable spaces. The monstrously large. The incalculable Void. And clowns, of course. Hence, my embrace of Lovecraftian and Weird fiction and Cosmic Horror... and my aversion for circus tents and eye exams.
In the category of "person," Stephen King once dubbed veteran horror author Jack Ketchum - creator of such notable books, films, and short stories as Off Season, The Girl Next Door, Red, The Crossings, and "The Box" - as "the scariest man in America," most likely unseating ol' Dick "Scattershot" Cheney at the time of the weighty utterance.
Well, ol' Scary Jack was just anointed Horror Horror Grand Master for "outstanding contribution to the horror genre" at the recent 2011 World Horror Convention held in Austin (aka the Oasis of Weird amongst the dusty brambles of otherwise straight-laced Texas).
Austin Post, here is video of Ketchum graciously accepting the title. In his speech, he discusses the nature of terror in a post 9/11 world, what we as writers must and need to tap into and dig up to create quality horror writing, and even throws in an anecdote about quite possibly the scariest WOMAN(ish) in America, Lady Gaga (nee Stefani Germanotta).
Congratulations to Jack Ketchum on the well earned laurel, joining such horror/sci-fi/dark fantasy magi as King, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Joe R. Lansdale, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, and Ray Bradbury, among others. And disappointingly, like in nearly every horror movie and episode of Scooby Doo ever made, the scary monster doesn't seem all that horrifying after seeing it in the light of day, or God forbid, behind a podium.
But then again, what makes Jack frightening is not who he is, it's what he writes. I think that's the way it should be.
"We can bleed all over the page... We can be fucking ridiculous." - Jack Ketchum (WHC 2011)