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 Zombie – you 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 Vampire. The 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?