Tag Archive | Pamela Morris

Horror vs. Terror with Pamela Morris

Horror vs. Terror: A Gothic Battle of the Sexes!

When Hunter first asked me to write a post for him to put up on his blog, I was thrilled, then terrified! Having read a lot of his work and knowing how well-versed he is in all things horror movie and book-related, what could I write about the subject that would interest him as well as his fans? While recently reading his novel We Are Always Watching, I began to compare it to one of my own upcoming novels. Both take place in rural Pennsylvania with the focus on an old, run down farmhouse and some pretty strange, slightly insane, people. The similarities end there. I couldn’t help but wonder if some of that is due to the fact that we are different genders.

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Not long ago I was reading about the life and works of Ann Radcliffe. Ann was a pioneer when it comes to the Gothic novel, predating Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker by a hundred years. (Her premier Gothic novel, Mysteries of Udolpho, was published in 1794.) During my studies, I learned that in the late 18th century there was a distinction between the terms Horror and Terror, especially when being applied to literature. Horror was considered more to do with emotions and setting a frightening mood and atmosphere, while creating a growing tension. It was much more subtle and mysterious. Terror, on the other hand, ran more along the lines of physical displays of the grotesque and graphic depictions of torture, murder, and death. Women, like Radcliffe, tended to writer Horror and Ann was generally praised for her unique approach and is given credit for popularizing the Gothic genre, especially among women readers.

Men wrote things more along the lines of Terror. In 1796, Matthew Gregory Lewis released “The Monk”. It was considered quite scandalous, where “… scenes of grotesquery and horror abound”. It was said that Lewis “… had devoted the first fruits of his mind to the propagation of evil” and that he was “… a reckless defiler of the public mind.” Over the years the Horror of Radcliffe has blended with the Terror of Lewis and has become almost exclusively known as Horror. (As an aside, “The Monk” and Radcliffe’s “Mysteries of Udolpho” are also classified as Romance. As far as the Romance genre back in those early days, it was barely considered literature and was denied the prestigious label of being an actual ‘novel’.)

As a Horror fan, it all makes perfect sense to me. My favorite types of movies and books are of the Horror genre, as defined above, or what I’d label as psychological thrillers or psychological horror. In my yet-to-be released novel Dark Hollow Road, I took on the latter without even knowing that such a sub-genre existed. When I discovered the definition of Psychological Horror, I laughed. Wiki says this about it, “…a subgenre of horror and psychological fiction that relies on mental, emotional and psychological states to frighten, disturb, or unsettle readers, viewers, or players. The subgenre frequently overlaps with the related subgenre of psychological thriller, and it often uses mystery elements and characters with unstable, unreliable, or disturbed psychological states to enhance the suspense, drama, action and horror of the setting and plot and to provide an overall unpleasant, unsettling, or distressing atmosphere.” This is the type of atmosphere I tried to create with my ghost story, No Rest For The Wicked, also. Two of the ghosts are unstable and psychologically disturbed and they are definitely creating an unsettled atmosphere for the living who are trying to deal with them.

I’m not very interested in watching Terror and what I would equate with Modern-day slasher films full of random acts of mindless gore and buckets of blood, intestine-eating cannibals, exploding heads and the like. Once in a while, sure, I can really get into all of that and have found that I love one particular “Terror” writer when he’s taking on the many cryptids of the world. But for the most part, I’ll pass on that sort of thing – especially when it comes to a movie. Films like Saw, Candyman, & Scream aren’t my overall cup of tea.

I’ll toss in something gruesome every now and then for good measure into my writing, like, “Flies swarmed over the body of Sarah’s decomposing child, neatly cradled in the arms of the scarecrow.” or “The strings of coagulating blood had stretched from under the flattened portion of his brother’s skull, down to the blacktop, then snapped and dripped and oozed some more.” My goal is not to gross my readers out, at least not too much. A quote over on Goodreads states, “Horror writers shouldn’t play nice. Disturb & unnerve your reader. Make them uncomfortable, but not so much they stop reading.” The last thing I want for someone to do while reading one of my stories is to stop reading. Plus, I have no interest in writing what I wouldn’t enjoy reading myself. I’ll leave the Terror to those who enjoy it.

Pamela_BKS2017All this is not to say there aren’t some fine lady authors out there writing gruesome and bloody tales of terror or men who know how to be subtle and slowly heighten the suspense. But, is there a difference in what men and women enjoy more when it comes to Horror vs. Terror?

Who would you say wins this Gothic Battle of the Sexes? Do you want that slow, creeping horror that sneaks up on you and leaves you psychologically damaged for a time, or something more along the lines of images so terror-filled, gruesome and gut-wrenching you have to stop reading or reach for the puke bucket?

 

A Very Haunted Plantation – Interview With Author Pamela Morris

Happy Halloween, my Hellions! I have a little something to shiver your timbers on this most important day of the year.

I was blessed to have been sent a copy of a hell of a ghostly tale, No Rest For The Wicked, by Pamela Morris. After reading the first chapter, I quickly added it to my already packed Horrortober reading list. Let me tell you, this one sucked me right in and had me reading late into the night. I loved it so much, I immediately reached out to Pamela for an interview. Enjoy an interview with a horror author on the rise and her brush with an actual ghost, order the book, slip into your costumes and enjoy the night.


No Rest for the Wicked is one of the best ghost/haunted house books I’ve read in a while. Why don’t you give my readers the elevator pitch on what the book is about and your inspiration for writing it.

There’s always some sort of tragedy behind every ghost story, and with research we think we know what that story is. My take is that that’s not always true. Sometimes those restless spirits would rather those researchers stop poking around and leave matters alone. Some ghosts will go to great lengths to see that their secrets don’t get out. NRFTW reveals what those secrets are at Greenbrier Plantation, and not just through human investigation, but as told by the ghosts themselves.

A lot of things inspired this book. Mainly it was my life-long love of ghost stories and haunted houses, and the efforts of a friend of mine who wanted to write a ghost story from the perspective of the ghosts. When I asked him if he minded my nabbing the concept, he was completely cool with the idea. There may or may not have been literary revenge in there for a number of failed relationships in my past, too. Beau and Lucy aren’t new characters for me. They’ve been around for about ten years in my erotica titles. When I started considering a ghost story, they seemed the most likely culprits. They’ve had a love-hate relationship from day one. It was perfect for what I had in mind.

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One of the things I liked most about the book is your ability to create very strong characters. I was totally invested in Eric and Grace’s relationship, which made what happened to them all the more intense. Are they based on anyone you know? I got a kind of newlywed feel about them, which seems appropriate considering you’re a newlywed. There’s some damn good sexy time in those pages!

I wrote the first three chapters of the book almost a full year before I met my new husband Jim, who, oddly enough, turned out to be A LOT like how I described Eric. As the story went on, I found myself adding small traits of my then-boyfriend to Eric, including his total disbelief in ghosts. Some of the dialogue between Grace and Eric is lifted from real conversations Jim and I have had. I guess you could say Grace is a bit like me in that she’s a total believer in ghosts and all gung-ho about living in a haunted house until the sh*t hits the fan, so to speak. As for the sexy bits, well, I considered those a lot. How much did I want to put in? I didn’t want this to be another erotica, but I needed to show the shift in dynamics between Grace and Eric. Their genuine love for each other and their intimate life seemed the best route to take.

Another standout in the book is how much attention you give the spirits living in the old Greenbrier Plantation. They have fully formed lives in the afterlife, complete with secrets and fears and aspirations. You don’t see that very often. What made you decide to make your ghosts such fully fleshed, so to speak, characters?

The story of a haunted house is the story of its ghosts, not just the living people trying to find them. Without the ghosts, there is no story. Beau and Lucy have been ‘flesh and blood’ people to me for ten years. It wasn’t hard to turn them into ghosts knowing their history together. Creating secrets, fears, and aspirations for Beau as a spirit, given the type of person he was in life, was pretty easy. Lucy had always been a challenge to Beau while they were living, so why not carry that over to the extreme in the afterlife? With them so fully fleshed out, I had to give Sadie as much depth and meaning as I could. She is, after all, the catalyst behind a lot of what happened as far as them becoming ghosts.

The third and final act involves twin ghost hunters who help Grace and Eric, along with historian Sully. I get the feeling you may have done some ghost hunting yourself. Or was the way they conducted their investigation solely inspired by the ghost hunting shows on TV? Aaaand, which of those shows is your favorite and which one makes you roll your eyes?

My best friend since 4th Grade grew up in a haunted house and we had some very weird experiences there. One of my grandmothers was interested in Spiritualism, so I guess you could say I grew up knowing of and believing in the Spirit World. I used to be a devoted follower of all the ghost hunting shows. “Ghost Hunters” is probably my favorite (Hunter’s note – GH was must see TV for me for the first 7 years of the show. Never, ever missed an episode). I’ve never investigated as you see them doing on TV, but I have been involved in séances and Ouija board sessions, and taken my camera into supposedly haunted, or at the very least very spooky, locations. I have some pictures of great interest, too. The attitude that WhiSPeR takes in the book is based a lot on a paranormal research group based very close to where I live. They do a weekly podcast type program and some of the things they’ve discussed about what’s actually involved in being a ghost investigator made its way into the book. As for the one that makes my eyes roll, it has to be “Ghost Adventures”. Zac just cracks me up too much to take him seriously.

If you were given the opportunity to live in a haunted location for a year, say the Myrtles Plantation, would you do it, or do you prefer to view ghosts from afar?

Hell, yes! Where do I sign up? Villisca Axe Murder House? I’m there. The Stanley Hotel, yes, please! (Hunter again – I might skip Villisca!)

Have you ever experienced something that folks would consider supernatural?

Yes. I once saw full-body apparition in broad daylight. And, as I mentioned earlier, my best friend since grade school grew up in a haunted house and things were definitely going on there. I’ve heard things at other locations like what sounded like an old woman humming and I’ve taken a few pictures that appear to have images of ghosts in them. In fact, the house I’ve been living in since 1995 is haunted, just ask my ex-husband and my kids! We’ve all experienced something and on several occasions, two people heard the same thing… twice. The current husband, like Eric, remains skeptical.

What will you be doing this Halloween? Any favorite movies or books that you revisit this time of the year?

When my kids were young we would go full out decorating the house. It was built in 1886, so old and big and spooky. We’d select a theme then invite a couple friends over to help us traumatize the children who dared visit. We’ve done a Psycho Circus with evil clowns. We’ve done vampires and zombies. My living room was once transformed into a funeral parlor, my dining room was occupied by a witchy-gypsy type fortune teller and there was a crazy, blood-covered girl sitting on the kitchen floor rocking her doll one year. All kinds of weirdness. A teenage girl run screaming from the house once. Good times. We’d get close to 100 Trick-or-Treaters every year back then. Lately, that’s slowed down A LOT! Last year I got twelve. I still decorate, but not like we used to. I’ll put the TV on Chiller or SyFy that night, whichever offers the better movie, and hand out candy. This weekend I plan on watching my favorite horror movie, the original version of “The Haunting” (Hunter for the last time – The Haunting is my favorite ghost movie!) and maybe some good old “Dracula AD 1972” with Christopher Lee.

What’s coming up next and where can people go to learn more about you and your wonderful books?

I just wrapped up the second draft of my novel “Dark Hollow Road” about a month ago. It scares me to think where this thing came from out of my psyche. There are two storylines going on. The odd-numbered chapters start in rural Pennsylvania in 1948 as a first person narrative. Mary Alice Brown, then eight years old, is describing her life with three younger siblings and a father that grows abusive after the death of his wife. The even-numbered chapters are contemporary and focus around six-year-old Brandon Evenson. Brandon lives within sight of the now abandoned house Mary Brown grew up in. Freaky things start to happen, and no one in town can verify what happened to Mary other than she hasn’t been seen since the late 1970s. Some say she’s dead. Some say she moved to Scranton to be with family. Some would rather you just not ask so many questions.


ABOUT PAMELA MORRIS

Folks can find me at my website www.pamelamorrisbooks.com as well as on Twitter @pamelamorris65.

I post a lot over on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PamelaMorrisBooks/ and all my books are available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Or, you can walk into any bookstore and have a copy ordered. And no, I did not write the Sex Games title that’s going to come up when you do an author search at either site.

BIO:

pamBorn in New Mexico, but raised in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, Pamela prefers a quiet, rural life to that of the city. She has always loved mysteries and the macabre. Combining the two in her own writing, along with her love for historic research and genealogy, came naturally. Hours spent watching ‘Monster Movie Matinee’, ‘Twilight Zone’, ‘Night Stalker’, a myriad of Hammer Films, and devouring one Stephen King book after another probably helped, too. Outside of her work as a novelist, Pamela has written several historic articles for the Tioga County Courier, an Owego, NY newspaper and was a US Civil War reenactor for close to ten years. She has also written for The Good Men Project, an online magazine whose focus is on all manner of men’s issues.

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