Friday, October 1, 2010

Guest Post -Why I Love Serial Killers

By Sarah Pinborough

While Russel sets out to see if it's true what they say about cats in America, we're taking the chance to get a few different voices onto DSD. First up, please welcome Sarah Pinborough. Sarah is the author of six horror novels and her first thriller, A Matter Of Blood, was released earlier this year.

Why I love serial killers.

After writing six horror novels, I've recently crossed the line into writing crime fiction, (A Matter of Blood, Gollancz March 2010), and I've been asked quite a few times what it's like to switch genres. I often say that it's been quite refreshing, but in fact of all the genres, horror and crime feel to me like the most closely related. If they're not quite brother and sister, then they are at least first cousins.

I was reminded quite strongly of this while watching the first part of the TV adaptation 'DCI Banks: Aftermath' of Peter Robinson's work. Without giving any spoilers, the graphic opening scenes involve a machete, blood, death and the discovery of a serial killer's lair replete with bodies. Take away the involvement of a detective (perhaps the only genre separator) and it could have been the opening of a horror film.

If horror and crime are cousins, then the serial killer is their love-child. He fits so perfectly into both genres (I chose to use a serial killer in A Matter of Bood, and had also used one in a horror novel). The serial killer is the embodiment of every boogie man under the bed or monster in the closet for those who are too grown up to believe in such things. I look at films like Seven or The Silence of the Lambs and I can't decide whether they're crime thrillers or horrors. They certainly both create horror in the viewer and it might not be coincidental that they both are centred around the work of serial killers.

The serial killer is the adult's nightmare, in the way ghosts and vampires (the old-school sort anyway) should scare children. So maybe, in a lot of ways, the genre of crime is for grown-ups who like horror. Certainly more women write crime than they do horror and the whole world knows we're the more grown up of the sexes! Also, the women writing crime are writing some quite horrific stuff – I visited a friend of mine yesterday, who told me he'd been reading a Karin Slaughter novel. He paled slightly and said 'she doesn't pull any punches, does she? That is some really graphic shit.'

So if I'm honest, although I've met some really lovely new people through moving to crime, I don't feel like I've moved genres at all. It's more like I've gone to stay with relatives for a while.


1 comment:

Steve Weddle said...

Makes perfect sense.

That's why some books get "mis-genred" or have to be in three spots in a bookstore.

Like Stephen King's CARRIE. Yes, it's horror, but it's also a beautiful love story.