The Introduction from the upcoming "Peaks of Madness: A Collection of Utah Horror" anthology. Let it challenge your assumptions of horror:
The Chapter is creating a great legacy of content and writing in the state of Utah. The act of producing and pushing content to the public eyes shows the vibrant and diverse culture that exists in Deseret. A healthy society embraces and encourages its hidden components (as horror often is). Regardless of its historical origins and political affiliations, a culture that expresses itself in the many ways in which peoples exist and live is a culture that flexes with change and reinvests in itself for the future. Horror is often one of the elements of culture that is suppressed and banned by the dominate structures in a society (governments, officials, churches) because of the inherent nature of what it contains: upsetting, disturbing, moral defying, and challenging ideas which can transform an individual.
I define horror as my graduate English science fiction teacher did, Dr. Eric Swedin from Weber State University, “In speculative fiction, horror is anything you don’t want to happen.” From the things that go bump in the night, to gore, repulsion, fright, terror, and what makes us uncomfortable, horror at its core is not about shock value or exposition. Though exposition, grindhouse, and body horror have their place, the use of horror in human culture dates back to ancient times with folk myths and fairy tales—scaring children into behaving—warning of danger, and exciting the minds to the possibilities of adventure.
Horror can act as a medium to express imagination, ethical lessons, and to understand what it means to be human by reflecting on a situation which isn’t real, but very well could be. The genre and the creativity within invites discussion, confronts assumptions, and makes us turn inward to answer the questions about how we feel and how we will live our lives after encountering the most terrifying and horrific monsters of all: ourselves.
Each story is a piece of art, put together in a collection that is a public exhibition. Creative writing, as a fine art, allows us to tame the inner demons and befriend the outer monsters of the world. As in the words of Karl Paulnack, director of the music division at the Boston Conservatory, “Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, ‘I am alive, and my life has meaning.’” Horror thus gives life meaning.