Writing Horror as a Christian

*A note before you read this. After doing an audit of my blog in 2022, I have decided to leave content that speaks to the Christian I was at the time this was written. I no longer identify as Christian (and haven’t for a very long time.) I chose to leave these posts because it is who I was then and it is important to me to be honest and true with every iteration and evolution of self that I experience. I may decide to add comments to the end of posts like this as well

Heather posted On Writing as a Christian on her blog today as well as a discussion at Intersection called Bubble or Patron. This sparked my comment on her blog and since I’ve not talked much about it here, I thought I’d copy and paste it.

I can only speak for myself.

When I figured out God was telling me (and not so politely) to write; instinctively, I knew I had to write horror. Psychological horror is my bent, not the gore-fest mainstream horror has become.

It was interesting, to say the least, to watch expressions of those attending the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in 2006. When I said I wrote horror, they looked at me as if I had said I was a prostitute at 5th and Broadway. The little name tags they handed out had everyone’s genre listed under they’re name. They changed mine from horror to thriller. Nice.

There were two things that made me understand that wasn’t the place for me. A very popular, well-respected agent telling a class (I’m paraphrasing) that Christian horror was a stupid idea and it would never work. (I shook his hand and told him we’d never work together. LOL) And the Holier-than-thou attitude most people had at that ACFW conference.

I tried, though. Because I thought maybe God was trying to convince me I needed to change. But I was depressed and my stories seemed fake. And forced. And the more I tried to manipulate the story to fit into the rulebox of the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) the more I understood that it wasn’t me they were forcing into the box, it was God. I prayed a lot about making the first step towards the ABA (American Booksellers Association) and when I did, God was right there to shower me with his love and acceptance and let me know, without a doubt, that I was doing what he wanted me to do.

I was working on a Bible study (the sheep one, H) and I read a book called A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm. It is such a simple book, but I had a paradigm shift while reading it. It may be that God meant for me to understand MY journey this way and it may not apply to others, but as I was reading about how a shepherd has to take his sheep through hard places, the dark valley. Usually people refer to this psalm when dealing with death, but I read that I walked THROUGH the valley. (and I understand the implications when dealing with death) but it applied to me, at that time in my life, to life not death.

Reading this book, having this shepherd explain to me that during movement of the flock to higher ground, going through the valley was a very intimate time, the sheep depended on the shepherd, the shepherd had gone the route beforehand and since a trust had already been established, the sheep trusted the shepherd and stayed close. The route through the valley is the most well-watered route. It is in the deep valley that you find the springs of crystal clear water.

Of course, I want that mountaintop experience with God. But what I really crave is the intimacy and refreshment of trusting him in those dark valleys.

And that’s when I knew what he wanted from me. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me” As I explore horror and all it represents, I will fear no evil. He is with me.

That’s when I started believing that I should follow His rules instead of the rules of man (the CBA) So I’ve been writing the stories the way they come out. And since then, doors seem to be opening all over the place.

I’m not saying that this is what God has for everyone. But this is how I came to know and understand that the CBA was not for me.

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