Where Does Christian Horror Belong?
There’s been a lot said in recent months about Christian horror fiction. Can there really be such a thing? Can Christian and horror coexist? How does one define Christian horror? What are the boundaries? Should there be boundaries? The questions are and have been plentiful.
But here’s one that’s been bugging me. Where exactly does horror fit in? In What genre should it be placed?
Fiction is broken down into genres. Usually the subgenre of horror is placed either in the Thriller/Suspense/Crime genre or the Speculative genre. Here’s my problem with that. For the Christian appetite horror is commonly renamed Supernatural Suspense (less offensive, I guess). But becuase of the supernatural element it doesn’t play nice with other non-supernatural suspense titles. It’s that kid in high school with the black T-shirt, purple hair, and nose rings. Readers who flock to the suspense titles don’t necessarily want the supernatural elements. The whole horror thing gets lost by lumping it in with all the other suspense novels.
So what about the Speculative genre? Well, yes, I suppose horror is speculative to a point but not near as speculative as science fiction and fantasy, the two subgenres the Speculative genre is most known by. Again, horror gets lost in the mix as most readers gravitating toward spec-fic want the sci-fi and fantasy stories, not horror.
So what do we do? Where do horror novels belong? We must recognize that horror is a legitimate genre in the CBA. More of it is being published and it is slowly (s-l-o-w-l-y) gaining popularity. There are plenty of writers out there proving a story can be both scary and redemptive. Once we’ve acknowledged Christian horror for what it is we should give it its own home.
Here’s what I suggest: Get horror out of the Suspense genre but don’t put it in with Speculative. In fact, get rid of the Speculative genre altogether and give the big three a genre of their own. Science Fiction. Fantasy. Horror. Go to any mainstream bookstore and you’ll find aisles of horror, aisles of science fiction, and a whole section of fantasy. They deserve more than to be lumped in together under the term “speculative.”
I hear a lot of folk asking why horror isn’t as popular in the Christian market as it is in the mainstream market. I think it could be. And I think the place to start is by giving it its own genre.
Now, here’s a little survey I’m doing. If you’ve ever read and enjoyed a horror novel by a mainstream author (not Christian, i.e. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Bentley Little, Heather Graham, etc.) please leave a comment stating so. You don’t have to put what book you read or which author is your favorite though you’re certainly welcome to. A simple comment will do. And, of course, if you want to comment about anything else or share your opinion on Christian horror and where it should be place please feel free to. I love your comments no matter what they are!
Posted on October 4, 2010, in Christian Fiction, Christian Horror and tagged Bentley Little, Dean Koontz, Fantasy, Horror fiction, Science fiction, Speculative fiction, Stephen King. Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.