I Must Know

English: A view of Bethlehem Royal Hospital, L...

English: A view of Bethlem Royal Hospital, London, from Lambeth Road, published before 1896. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lately I’ve been reading about readers “preferences” when it comes to a particular genre. For example, mystery readers prefer the Victorian era, and horror readers prefer things to be set in modern times. I’m not sure if I agree… but my opinion in this doesn’t really matter.

I write horror, not because I am a dark, brooding person obsessed with death, but because that seems to be what comes out most of the time. I have to admit, though, so far I haven’t written anything in a present setting. My stories occur in the 1800’s. One novel involves pioneer settlers in a lonely mountain outpost, and the other regarding a man held in Bethlem Hospital in London.

So here’s my question – according to the “reliable sources” I’ve  encountered, no one will want to read these stories, because they’re most likely going to fall into the Horror category, and neither are set in a year 2000-something. Are they right?

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14 thoughts on “I Must Know

  1. Well, the following comment is just a guess of mine and does not have any scientific sources.
    But I’d say people like to read horror-stories set in the modern time because the can relate to everything that happens (like the usual behaviour, or the given social structures) or appears. And that will make them feel more horror.

  2. Well, I would read them. Yes publishing is nice and genre dominated but there is always room for something that bit different, so you focus on the fact they are kind of cross genre horror/historical and that they are different..a throw back to more original horror stories if you like. That is how you try pitching them. I have a writer friend Catherine Cavendish who has horror books out set in the past as well as some set in the present. I also have another writer friend Ann Nibbs who is a ‘gatekeeper’ – editor at Etopia Press . Ie her job is to pull horror submissions from the horror slush pile. She is always lamenting the dearth of good, different horror stories.

  3. Horror is horror if it’s written well. People today still love Poe and Lovecraft and they are obviously not set in modern times. I think a historical setting just lends a second layer of mystery to to the story. I would definitely read it. If you write good horror, anyone can pick up on the fear, no matter when it is set.

    A wise friend of mine gave me a great piece of advice when I first started out writing: write what is in your heart and soul, and don’t worry about where it falls in terms of genre.

    Good luck!

  4. Well, my favourite genre is gothic horror, so I’m afraid I don’t agree with those ‘sources’. The likes of Poe, Le Fanu, M.R James, Bram Stoker, Henry James and de Maupassant are still popular and are still being read today.
    As for writing, I agree with lisenminetti. Genre shouldn’t matter if it’s a great story and you’re writing what you’re passionate about. 🙂

    PS. A lot of my horror shorts are set in the past and my novel-in-progress is set in Victorian London. So you have company 🙂

    • I live gothic horror too, but has there been a recent, successful example? I hope readers are open minded, and at the end of the day we can only write well what we ourselves enjoy. That’s exciting that our stories are set in the same place and time. I wonder if our characters will run into each other?

      • You know you had me stumped there but the only recent examples I can think of are Anne Rice and Joyce Oates(apparently). Philip Pullman, even though not a horror writer, wrote a YA series set in Victorian London as well. Clearly meant for younger readesr but I enjoyed it!
        I say we reinvent this genre! 😀
        PS. Now that would be something if our characters ran into each other! 😀

      • I was hoping I wouldn’t be the one responsible for “reinventing” the genre, but maybe if we do it together it won’t be so bad. 😉 So what is your current project, previous project, and side project, and are you also a writer whose delicate and meaningful stories always wind up dark and murderous?

  5. Now why wouldn’t you want to be solely responsible? You’d be a pioneer and famous for it! 😀
    I wrote a collection of horror short stories which is badly in need of editing. LOL. I’m currently working on a novel about a 19th century psychic detective. Hopefully it’s not as bad as it sounds! Because of my studies though, I have been neglecting it a bit.
    And yes! While working on my collection I noticed that a lot of my stories involve mutilation. The realization of that fact worries me slightly. Ha! 😛

  6. Thank you for the follow on my blog. Nice to meet you. I love mysteries but horror is a little scary for me. I did read a couple Stephen King that scared me half to death. Read a lot of Dean Koontz and Harlan Coban which I love. They can be strange at times though but in a good way. LOL! Write whatever you want that way your readers will feel the story. Best wishes for success and happy holidays!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by. Stephen King can be frightening at times, but his stories are so interesting their worth it, even if that’s not what you’re after. I also wish you success, and a wonderful, relaxing holiday season.

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