Mike Dellosso

Mike Dellosso is the author of The Hunted, Scream, and Darlington Woods. He is also a newspaper columnist, on faculty at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference, and an adjunct professor of writing at Lancaster Bible College. Darlington Woods was recently optioned by a movie producer in Los Angeles to begin work on developing a screenplay. Mike lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters. Visit him at www.mikedellosso.com and get free digital downloads and some really cool stuff at www.strangbookgroup.com/download (PIN: DELLOSSO5410).

Reaching Hearts Through Horror

I know what you’re saying. Yeah, right. How can horror reach people where they are and touch their hearts? Horror? Really?

Please, before you tune out, give me a chance to explain myself.

Horror seems to be the bad boy genre of fiction. It’s the kid with the Black Sabbath T-shirt, the torn jeans, tattoos, and hair in his eyes. It’s the punk everyone has written off as a rotten apple, a lost cause, hopeless. Keep your child away lest they be influenced and come home with a screaming skull tattoo on her neck. But is it possible that the kid with the rough exterior and the bad rap really has a heart of gold? Is it possible that the tough guy is really a gentleman? Is it possible that because of the way he looks and the image he wears he’s allowed entrance into circles the rest of us wouldn’t have a chance of getting into?

Is it possible that horror can reach people where they are and touch hearts like no other genre can? I say yes.

Life is scary

Let’s face it, life is scary. Monsters are real. As a kid I had a lot of fears, including a recurring nightmare that left me sweaty and afraid to go back to sleep, because sleep is where the creatures waited, where they lurked in shadows and picked at their sores and schemed against me. But I never knew real fear until I was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago. Cancer is a monster too many people have to battle, a monster that is real and ruthless and cares nothing for mercy.

Others have known different fear and monsters that are all too real. An abusive father, a belligerent boss, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, loneliness, abandonment. Nightmares are there, whether in the land of dreams only, that place the mind goes when sleep overcomes and the portal to different dimensions is thrown wide open, or in the land of reality where facing fear is a daily chore, where shadows are never just shadows and evil intentions lurk behind every smile.

The fact is, we all live with some form of fear and usually it’s not the docile brand but the kind that horrifies. Stories that deal with fear and things that go bump in the night land on the front porch of everyone’s heart because fear is something none of us can hide from, we must all face it.

Life and death

What is the one thing people fear more than anything else? Death. I wouldn’t be afraid of heights if the fall wouldn’t kill me. You wouldn’t be afraid of the dark if nothing waited there that could mangle and torment and ultimately take your life. There would be no fear of burglars if they wanted nothing more than a friendly handshake and a glass of water. The root of all fear is death, or at least the potential for death.

But death is all around us and therefore fear. We all live day to day; we all walk that fine line between here and there. And whenever we hear of a fatal auto accident or robbery or a loved one loses his battle with cancer or heart disease claims another victim we are reminded of our own mortality, our own impending appointment with death.

Horror fiction is all about life and death. The struggle to live with death on the doorstep. And that’s something everyone can identify with.

Good and evil

Ahh, the basis of all conflict, good versus evil. At its core this is what life is all about. Good and evil in the spiritual realm, good and evil in the physical realm.

Good and evil in our hearts and minds. The battle rages on and on.

More than any other genre of fiction, horror pits good against evil in the most epic of struggles. And it gives the author freedom to express this dichotomy, this confrontation, in both its extremes. Good at the best the heavenlies has to offer, and evil at the worst the supernatural realm can conjure.

Through horror writing we can communicate that all that is good ultimately comes from the One who is good, and all that is malevolent and wicked comes from the one who is wicked, that father of lies, that great deceiver. And in the end, if the author has done his job well, good wins out, light banishes the darkness, and the reader is inspired that there is indeed hope.

Hope from Horror

The crossroads meet at hope. Though life is scary and monsters abound, though death is imminent, an appointment that can’t be cancelled, though evil is alive and well and pressing in on all sides, there is always hope.

That is why I write horror and that is why I believe horror can reach the heart. In the darkest parts of the human experience, when the shadows grow black and the way is unseen, where vision fails and strength is lost, where the heart grows weak and courage is a thing sought after but not found, there is light, and where there is light there is always hope.


Darlington Woods