Many people ask me during my book events why I chose to write horror, and I can understand their “concern”. Most of the contemporary literature in India is drama or romance. Now, I haven’t got anything against romance per se. It is certainly a wonderful genre to write on, but I feel Indian authors must explore other genres as well. There are so many genres that Indian authors can write on, such as mytho-fantasy, epic fantasy, sci-fi, satire, and, of course, horror.
Yes, indeed horror. This is a genre that must find its place in Indian writing soon. Here are the main reasons why I think this is a really great time to be a horror author.
- It is a relatively new genre to explore. Check out the bestseller lists in the popular bookstores and you will find no horror! (Please note that I am not talking here of unintentional horror that some books evoke due to their content.) We need more writers here, provided they are good at their craft. For horror doesn’t take much time to delve into comedy if it is not done correctly.
- We have a vast repertoire of all kinds of entities that can be used for creating horror. What about the daityas and the rakshasas and the pishachas and the vetals? Of course, the good old chudails and daayans and bhoots are still there, but the movies have done them to death. These characters are plot bunnies that are just waiting to be taken.
- That brings me to my third point. The movies. Just look at the kind of excitement the horror movies generate. Everyone wants to know more about them, whether or not they have the courage to actually enter a cinema hall that plays it. The haunted houses in the malls are always full of people waiting to get in. We love to hear horror stories in the lonely evenings sitting with our friends. Thus, there is definitely a demand. It will work out if the literary world caters to this demand.
- The foreign horror authors are a hit in India. Stephen King and Neil Gaiman are almost always among the bestselling foreign authors of any genre across the bookstores. In fact, some publishing houses have inundated the stores with horror anthologies containing works of writers from all over the world. See all the anthologies by foreign authors foreworded by Ruskin Bond and you will know what I mean. Why is that? Because we want to read horror but don’t have our own authors.
- Readers are willing to experiment nowadays. They are tired of the same stories packaged in different ways. They are trying out the bookshelves in the stores they haven’t done before. Even those who aren’t inclined to horror on the face of it would be compelled to pick up a good horror book if it piques their interest.
- Publishers have become more open to accepting horror. Even literary agents are prioritizing horror stories. The moment the writer says ‘horror’, these people want to read the story at least once. In their attempts to bring out something new for the reader, this genre ranks highly nowadays.
- There’s less competition. If you can find your niche readers, you can be assured of a moderate success at least. Even on self-publishing platforms like Amazon Kindle, horror ranks well because there are few other authors in that category. However, as more horror writers join in, this is going to change.
- Horror is fun to write. Trust me. It is quite something to use your words to create a scare. Working with sights, smells, sounds, that’s what a horror writer does all the time. And there are few kinds of writing that are as interesting as that.
So these are my reasons. What do you think? Do let me know in the comments below.