Fantasy and Horror Synergy: Salty and Sweet


The fantasy genre of fiction is defined as one in which magical or supernatural themes and settings are present, excluding those plots and themes which rely on science. In comparison, horror is defined as a genre based upon terrifying or fighting plots and settings. These elements can be supernatural (e.g. werewolves) or realistic (e.g. serial killer) elements. Actually they can be both as, for example, in the case of the supernatural serial killer, often found in Dean Kootz’s novels.

In reading the above definitions, there is obviously a bit of overlap. Yet many writers take great pleasure in coloring outside the lines. Why? Isn’t it confusing? (“Is it horror? Is it fantasy?”)

I would venture to say that the science fiction/fantasy genre or to use the more cumbersome term, speculative fiction, has such a fluid realm of sub-genres that horror and fantasy often bleed into each other (yes the pun is intentional)…like paint on a canvas.

When an artist is creating a masterpiece, does it worry him or her if the lines are blurred? Doesn’t this after all make a more believable and gorgeous landscape?

In my own Immortal series, I gleefully smudge the lines between genres of erotica, horror and fantasy, as many of my fellow writers have observed. Derrick Ferguson author of the Dillon and Fortune McCall series recently described my work as “imaginatively experimental.”

Other authors whose work I’ve greatly enjoyed mix fantasy and horror–and have done so with a quite bit of success.

Author Tananarive Due, who is dubbed as a horror writer, mixes fantasy quite skillfully in My Soul to Keep. This novel begins with the tale of “Jessica,” a young woman who falls in love, only to discover that the perfect man of her dreams is 400 years old…and the member of an Ethiopian sect of Immortals.

This saga continues through three more novels (The Living Blood, Blood Colony and My Soul To Take) all are built upon a fantasy setting, spiced with bone-chilling horror and suspense.

D.K. Gaston, for example, author of The Friday House, and Lost Hours, while not described as a horror author has elements of it deftly woven within many his plots. Tad Williams does the same, when he inserts a larger than life sociopath in his epic fantasy series, Otherland.

The fantasy framework of these novels is in fact necessary in order to construct “the world right beneath our noses,” that is the mainstay of speculative fiction. When horror is present, it adds a delightful bit of scary suspense to the mix—like popcorn and chocolate. And hey, who doesn’t enjoy a little sweet with their salty from time to time?

This post is brought to you by a knight (me) of the Great Traveling Round Table of Fantasy Bloggers 🙂
To read my fellow knights’ posts, check out Chris Howard’s guest blog.

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2 Replies to “Fantasy and Horror Synergy: Salty and Sweet”

  1. Excellent post, Sister Valjeanne!
    I also add horror elements to most of my Steamfunk and Sword & Soul stories. It makes the writing more fun and the stories a bit more thrilling! 🙂

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