Seriously Spooky Guest Post: Barry Hutchison

I have a confession to make. I always hated horror.

That might seem like a strange thing for a horror author to say, but stick with me here. I don’t hate horror now. But I did for a long time, and for two very different reasons.

As a kid, between the ages of about 5 and 11, I lived in a near perpetual state of terror. I was scared of dogs, cats, birds… goldfish. You name it, it scared me senseless. I was afraid of being in high places, wide open spaces, narrow spaces. I was terrified of being on my own, but equally alarmed by large groups. When my friends came to the door to ask if I wanted to go out, I’d refuse, suspecting that I’d probably drop dead the moment I stepped outside. Then be mauled by a tiger. And picked clean by vultures.

That was why I didn’t read horror when I was young. I was constantly terrified as it was. The last thing I wanted was to add fuel to the fire by picking up a Clive Barker or Stephen King or whoever. It took me all my courage just to open the fridge, fearing as I did that some sort of cheese creature might be waiting to leap out at me.

The second reason I used to hate horror is a bit more complicated.

When I was 11, there came a moment when I knew I had to overcome the fears that threatened to cripple my life. That moment came when I returned home from school one day to find my house empty. Usually my mum was at home after school, but on this particular day there was no sign of her. Immediately I was on the defensive. I could feel my heart speeding up. Something was out of the ordinary. Something was wrong.

But I had a more pressing worry. I was too scared to use the toilets in school, and so I would always arrive home desperate for a pee. This day was no exception, and my bladder was fit for bursting when I arrived at the house. The problem was the bathroom was upstairs in my house, and as far as I was concerned, there were monsters upstairs just waiting for the opportunity to eat me alive.

So I had a dilemma. Be eaten by monsters, or wet myself?

And then a third option presented itself, when I spotted the kitchen sink.

“This is it!” I thought. I could pee in the sink, run the tap for a minute, and no-one need ever know. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite as tall then as I am now, and I couldn’t quite manage to reach the sink. So I came up with a plan where I would jump up, prop myself up on my arms, quickly pee in the sink, then jump back down. Everything was going to be OK.

So, I got myself primed and ready. I took up my position by the sink. I bent my knees, straightened my arms, and I jumped.

What I had failed to take into account was that above the kitchen sink in my house was a row of kitchen cabinets. As I leaped, I cracked my skull on the bottom of the cabinets, and I woke up on the kitchen floor five minutes later. In a puddle of pee. With blood pouring from my head, and I thought, “This can’t go on.”

So I set about training myself not to be scared of things. I analyzed things that worried or frightened me, figuring out why I was scared and finding ways to overcome each fear in turn. Eventually, I trained myself out of almost all of my irrational fears and after that life started to feel a bit boring. I missed the constant adrenaline rush that came with always being afraid, and so I began reading horror books to try to claw that feeling back. It never worked. No matter what I read, none of it was able to scare me to the extent my own imagination had for years. The thoughts in my head were scarier than those in Stephen King’s or Clive Barker’s, and that was when I decided that I should really try writing a horror book some day…

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    […] Halloween is nearly here.  It’s celebrated on 31st October and it’s a time when we enjoy being scared by witches, ghosts and other creepy creatures! We might dress up, have a party, read scary stories or make some yummy treats.  We’ve been highlighting some of our favourite spooky authors throughout our Seriously Spooky month, including Joseph Delaney and Barry Hutchison. […]

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