Well, you guys, it’s been a while. And how things have changed since I last uploaded a blog post. I hope you are all keeping safe and managing through these bizarre times.
Lockdown has given me invaluable time in front of the computer screen working on my horror novel. It got me to thinking about the relationship between humour and horror, and about how the two tend to meet. It’s a fine balance – make horror too funny and it seems silly and loses its tension. Make horror too serious and, for me, it loses an edge that a well-crafted story with elements of both will undoubtedly demonstrate.
Some of my writing heroes excel at this technique. The League of Gentlemen (Reece Shearsmith, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, and Jeremy Dyson), inspired me when I was a school kid. Their eponymous television show was like nothing I had ever seen before. Their skill at writing comedy immersed in horror, full of sympathetic characters and humanistic struggles, has stayed with me ever since. Pemberton and Shearsmith’s Inside No.9 continues to surprise me, a television experience that my husband pointed out is no mean feat! When chatting about the show to a work colleague, he stated, “It’s the only TV show that ever surprises MJ. Because she’s a writer, she always guesses what’s going to happen or what the twist in a show will be. With Inside No.9, she’s always just as surprised as the rest of us, so she actually gets to enjoy it!” I hadn’t thought about it until he pointed it out, but it’s so true!
And that’s what you can do with horror. Truly take people by surprise and thrill them, more than any other genre. It’s something that I am trying to focus on as I push on through this novel, working on balancing truly fiendish characters and events with personable humour and empathy. I am trying to learn from the masters – after all, I have been following them for about 25 years now.
The horror/humour balance can never be more topical than at a time of crisis. It’s important to laugh, even when the world around us seems to be falling apart. And it’s okay to find humour in the madness. In fact, there is nothing more human.
Stay safe my friends, and seek out a little humour where you can.