Horror, Weird Fiction, or Dark Fantasy?

I will be launching a new series, probably in the new year. I have the first three books written and am in the editorial process.

Ever since I conceived of the series, I’ve been scratching my head as to what to label it. My inspiration came from The X-Files, Stranger Things, Charles Stross’s The Laundry Files series, and HP Lovecraft (both his Cthulhu Mythos and non-Mythos stories). The series draws on the quasi-scientific, supernatural, and paranormal. There be monsters here! As well as psychological elements of fear and terror.

So what exactly am I writing? Is it horror fiction? Or weird fiction? Or dark fantasy? Maybe it’s dark speculative fiction. Or perhaps it’s simply paranormal fiction.

For the series title I chose the word “paranormal”. Pierce Mostyn Paranormal Investigations. Mostly because “paranormal” anything is hot right now. But as noted above, like The X-Files, Pierce Mostyn investigates the quasi-scientific, the pseudo-scientific, as well as the supernatural and paranormal. Anything that is weird and might be a threat to the good people of the United States of America. See my dilemma?

My old Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition defines horror as “the strong feeling caused by something frightful or shocking; shuddering fear and disgust; terror and repugnance.” Therefore, a horror story is one that would induce fear, terror, disgust, repugnance, or shock.

Weird, on the other hand, is “suggestive of ghosts, evil spirits, or other supernatural things; unearthly, mysterious, eerie, etc.” The dictionary goes on to say “weird applies to that which is supernaturally mysterious or fantastically strange.” Weird fiction, then, would be fiction that induces a more general feeling of fear or uneasiness. A story that leaves one with an unidentifiable feeling of dread. Although one reviewer on Amazon was of the opinion that weird fiction puts the protagonist into a situation where no choice he or she can make is a good choice. If that is the case, then to my mind weird fiction sidles very close to horror.

Dark means “hidden; secret; not easily understood; obscure; evil; sinister.” So dark fantasy would be fantasy that explores the hidden, secret, evil, or the sinister. And could easily leave the reader with a feeling of dread. Identifiable or not.

The Pierce Mostyn series might induce fear in some, and certainly deals with those things that are hidden, secret, evil, or sinister. The series also explores that which is supernaturally mysterious or fantastically strange.

I suppose it all comes down to what’s my primary intent with the stories. My guess is I’m probably going more for the weird impact than anything else. But then again, each story might be different. Certainly that was the case with The X-Files, or Night Gallery before that, and The Twilight Zone before that.

Any suggestions will be very much appreciated. Please leave them in the comments.

My Interview

On a separate note, my interview with fellow author Andy Graham went live on Thursday, September 7. You can find it at One Book Interviews. The interview was fun and challenging. Trying to find just one book for each of Andy’s questions. Just one. Difficult, a bit of soul searching, and yet fun, because I got to revisit lots of great books in my mind. And put a few on the reread list!

Please, do check out the interview. And while you’re there, take a look around Andy’s site.

Comments are always welcome, and, until next time, happy reading!

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