Guest Post by Merry Freer
Are you all still enjoying yourselves? Well are you?? It’s getting very spooky now, very spooky indeed! *evil laugh*
Humor in Horror
Hi there! My name is Merry Freer and I am the author of “Special Levels of Earthly Hell” (Subtitled: “An Atheist’s Experience with Demonic Possession”).
Horror is supposed to be scary, right? But does that mean it can’t be injected with a little humor here and there? Humor breaks the tension and it helps to build characters. A horror novel, or even a novel in the genres of paranormal and occult are a little more balanced and enjoyable when levity is utilized.
I don’t write about vampires, werewolves, witches or other paranormal creatures, though I imagine such a creature could be drawn by the writer as more likeable by giving it a sense of humor. My creature is a demon, “The Beast,” and there is nothing funny about him. The humor in “Special Levels of Earthly Hell” is created by the earth-bound characters.
How does any author bring humor into a horror story? My characters are based on real people. Their personalities are varied and, as in real life, humor is one way to differentiate one character from another.
For example, Adriana (The target of The Beast) has a very dry sense of humor. When using the herbs and spices she believes she needs in order to ward off The Beast, she comments: “Who knew you could find so many demon repellents in the spice aisle and produce section of Albertsons?” It’s not roll on the floor humor, but it provides a moment of amusement when dealing with a somber subject.
When the protagonist, Drew, is having a conversation with Sweetie (his mother) about the color he and his wife have just painted the bedroom they are occupying in Sweetie’s home, Drew says: “It was pink! A man shouldn’t have to sleep in a pink bedroom!”
Sweetie counters with: “It was not pink. It was ‘Sunday Brunch,’ a lovely, neutral shade of beige.”
Again, the humor is subtle. It helps to define Sweetie’s character as one you can count on for a smile – in her phraseology, her reactions to events, and her naivety.
The takeaway here is that humor need not be avoided in a horror story. It’s a tension breaker and a character builder. Take advantage of its usefulness to your story.
Don’t go away yet. There’s more…….
Special Levels of Earthly Hell
An Atheist’s Experience with Demonic Possession
(Inspired by Actual Events)
The most difficult battle is with an enemy you can’t identify.
“This is what I’ve learned about The Beast,” Laura said. “It doesn’t exist in our plane of existence. It has no physical form. Use that fact to your advantage. It gains power from negative energy. Remove your negative energy and replace it with positive energy. Be its opposite. It’s the only way to fight evil.”
Spending his lunch hours receiving an intense and personalized lesson on the finer points of demonic shielding, as well as an education on the various cultural ideologies of good and evil, was the last place Drew Collins expected to find himself in his five-year plan. His plan was loose and flexible, but he was certain it included love. He even had a vision about it before he left on his dream adventure, traveling through Mexico after he graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in Bio-Psychology. He dreamed he was destined to go to Mexico to bring something back. What he returned with was better than his wildest dream and worse than his most horrific nightmare.
Yet here he was, spending his lunch breaks with his boss, Laura, on the grass at the Self-Realization Temple. Today he was learning to control his personal energy. Laura studied with two shaman from different indigenous tribes. One was the Hopi, a small tribe within the Navajo nation. The other was from the Yaqui Indians, who lived in the Sonoran Desert in Mexico, south of Arizona, the same tribe associated with the mentor of Carlos Castaneda, a trained shaman and American author who held a Ph.D. in Anthropology. Castaneda claimed to have learned his craft from a Yaqui named Don Juan Matus, whom he claimed was personally trained by a Diablero, or devil, though some say his mentor never existed. Under ordinary circumstances, Drew would have considered the teachings of shamans to be fascinating fodder for an excellent conversation. Today, he considered them to be a necessary component in the lessons he agreed to pursue – the lessons he hoped would help him save his wife. Drew was a self-proclaimed atheist, a man whose beliefs were based in science, a godless man, to put it bluntly, who was in the peculiar position of being married to a woman who appeared to be possessed by a demonic presence.
A reasonable person might ask themselves how this could be so. How could a godless man, an atheist, believe his wife was possessed? Aren’t demons, the kind that possess humans, take over their bodies and voices to spread a vile message, associated with religious belief? Certainly the Catholic religion makes this connection. His wife was Catholic and he’d seen The Exorcist. For Drew though, The Beast was secular. It existed as an evil energy, separate and independent from the confines of religion. It had to. He didn’t believe in God, so he couldn’t accept The Beast as His antithesis, as a religious man might do. Religious belief as an explanation for his experience was discarded. He believed in science. But The Beast was an entity unidentified by scientific study. The Beast. Science.
Drew recognized with an awareness that shook the foundation of his being that they could not be reconciled. In the science he had studied there was no place for demons. And yet he knew they existed. He had seen The Beast for himself. In his own home.