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February 22, 2009

Circumstances have moved faster than there are days in the week – I had originally intended to write about the recent changes to Facebook’s terms of service, and the potential pitfalls and problems that it posed for writers and artists.  By Thursday however Facebook, under pressure from the backlash provoked by the changes, reverted to the original terms of service, rendering any comment I was going to make a moot point.  I’ll keep my comments in reserve for when the new ToS is released.

But this week I’ve been thinking a lot about genre, and crossing over genres.  It all started out as an off-hand joke.  A position as an editorial assistant at a children’s book publisher has become vacant, and I am applying for it.  Those familiar with my interests will realise that children’s and young adult fiction is really not what I do, and eyebrows were raised at the suggestion I might get involved with children’s books.

This then led into intense speculation about what such titles might look like after my involvement  – my personal favourites being The Haunted House at Pooh Corner and The Very Hungry Zombieyou can see a list here with sample text.

Joking aside however, might infant horror not be a viable genre after all?  Recent successful Young Adult books have been in the fantasy genre, straying into the horror.  Think of the Harry Potter series and the use of the supernatural in that, or more pertinently, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series.  We might be tempted to think that of course horror is not suitable for children – but consider that vampires are walking, talking sexual metaphors – is that any less suitable for young adults?

Even before these recent examples, children’s books evinced a taste for the praeternatural.  Meg and Mog concerns a witch and her cat.  For children too young for Twilight there is The Little VampireThe Children of Green Knowe is about ghosts, familial curses and a malevolent, demonic force.

I considered my infant horror genre a joke, but in many respects it is already here, and has been here for a very long time.  I’ve mentioned before that one of my earliest reading memories is a children’s adaptation of Dracula, complete with horrific illustrations.  I and many other children were raised on fairy tales where wicked stepmothers dance to death in red hot shoes, where handsome princes have their eyes gouged out, and where old crones are cooked alive in ovens.

Perhaps infant Gothic horror isn’t such a strange idea after all.

What cross over genres can you think of that seem to be an unlikely marriage, but which actually work?  Would you/did you read horror as a child?  Would you let your own children read them now?

  1. February 22, 2009 12:59 pm

    the fact that Facebook change their TOS back so quickly is an indication that they knew they were wrong in the first place

  2. Kerin permalink
    February 22, 2009 1:31 pm

    Hmm… Have you ever watched a Disney Animation and then gone to the source of their fairy tales?

    The Brother’s Grimm were great at story telling and instilling the ‘fear’ in kids so they behaved. Better than biblical don’t ya think?

  3. February 23, 2009 12:39 am

    The most stupid idea popped into my head – speculative romance … but I was thinking of The Time Travellers Wife. It takes the what if, the device of a genetic defect for time travel and the most compelling love story I’ve ever read, and Audrey pulls them off beautifully.

    On the topic of infant horror – my son is into vampires in a big way (though no obvious encouragement of my own) He’d love them .. and yes I was a big fan of Meg and Mog. Interesting to note the witches are a suitable addition to a kids story but a blood sucking vampire isn’t.

    And I think that all goes back to the original source of fairy tales. The ones that told the best moral were often the bloodiest (thinking of the red shoes) and the characters often harkened back to archetypes (the witch being a version of the crone aspect of womanhood) On one hand we could do with some antidotes to some of the sacarrine sweet crap that is churned out in the name of kids fiction,but it’s a hard line to judge.

    Remind me to send you the awful goblins book I bought for dylan. It is totally ghastly!

  4. February 23, 2009 6:19 pm

    Hmmm. Can’t say as I can think of an unlikely pairings, but I can tell you that I wouldn’t censor my children further than to keep porn and blood and gore video games away from them. My kids have read and seen a variety of things and we talk about them afterward. It help too that a lot of DVDs now have extras showing how they were made. This helps my children see that there is a real human actor behind the bloody zombie.

    DW Golden
    Let in a little magic with Purple Butterflies, a new young adult novel now available at Amazon.

  5. February 24, 2009 11:16 am

    I think children’s horror is actually a pretty viable field. 😛 Kids like to be scared. It’s why they do horror movie marathons and stuff like that.

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