The Question of the Month has a simple premise: each month I'll ask a handful of the genre's top authors to answer the same question and then I'll publish their responses exactly as I receive them. In these posts you'll discover how today's best horror authors think, giving you insight into where their darkest tales come from. These responses are listed here in the order they were received.
This month's question is: What is the future of horror?
Writers in pain. Their wounds, unconscious or otherwise, define the genre.
— R.C. Matheson
I don't know what the future of horror will be, but I always live in hope that whatever it is, it'll be a bit more subtle, quietly disturbing, surreal, and otherworldly than a lot of the trends we've recently seen. Something that instills genuine dread rather than aiming to shock or gross out. Not because I dislike accessible, splattery fun, but just to shake things up a bit. I'm loathe to use the word "cerebral," but something with a bit more depth would be nice. Can we rewind to the '80s and welcome Clive Barker as the future of horror, please? That would be grand.
— Brett Alexander Savory
The future of horror is the past--the sins of the past, that is, repressed and otherwise, which have been at the heart of virtually every horror story since Horace Walpole wrote the first gothic novel way back in 1764.
— Dale Bailey
The great thing about horror is that it doesn't give a crap about the future or the past. It's immune to trends. Humans will never lose interest in sex or death.
— Scott Nicholson
My hope is that horror will blaze a course through this present fascination with extreme violence without any subtext or meaning—simple shock and brutality—and start re-exploring the concepts that make the genre so powerful. Without a human element to these stories, the characters are just so many pieces of wood waiting to be hewn and chopped into kindling. If horror is to have a future beyond revolting people and making them scream with cheap scares, writers, readers and moviegoers alike need to rediscover that the best horror is about bad things happening to characters in whom we have an emotional investment.
— Bev Vincent
The future of horror is...assured. The arc of expression seems to be following the media arc as a whole: less attention to print, more to video games and movies, but horror reinvents itself to fit. Horror will prosper as long as people get a frisson down the spine from things that go bump in the night.
— Holly Newstein
The future of horror? The past. As always.
— Glen Hirshberg
People (or Soylent Green, if you prefer the packaging). Us. With our capacity for feeling and inflicting pain, our reaction to mystery and the unknown, our appetite for the world and each other, we'll be drawn to horror like lemmings to a cathartic sea for a while. The Greeks dug it, we dig it. However the source medium may evolve, as long as there are people, there will be both the inspiration and audience for horror. Horror will truly be dead when we've split angel from demon and cast off the monsters inside us. And we're a long way off from that feat of genetic engineering. Or exorcism...
— Gerard Houarner
It's vampires who sparkle in the sunlight, like David Bowie in his sequined androgynous glam-rocker phase, or maybe it's werewolves who crap strawberry scented sprinkles. I'm pretty sure it's one of those.
— Gary Raisor
What is the future of horror? WHO THE FUCK KNOWS? But I betcha we're about to find out! (P.S.: The future of horror starts right... about... now.)
— John Skipp
Brian James Freeman is the Managing Editor of Cemetery Dance Publications, the publisher of Lonely Road Books, and the author of several novels and novellas and many short stories. His most recent book is The Painted Darkness. You can read more about his work on his official website, http://www.brianjamesfreeman.com/, and you can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.