GUEST POST: Robert Herold

Why We Need Horror

Horror fulfills an important part of human culture. Ancient societies were full of examples: The Chaos Monster in Mesopotamia, the Greek’s Minotaur and Gorgon, the tale of Beowulf, the Gumiho from Korea, and many others.

Confronting fearful mythic figures have been used to inspire, explain the unknowable, and to entertain. But they do more than that. Many times, a monster is pitiable, getting us to confront societal prejudices and unfair practices. For example, while Frankenstein’s monster is depicted differently in book and film, both are victims and cause us to question what is just and fair. So too with many of the figures of horror fiction and film.

While some contend that horror is inherently conservative, as the goal is to return to how things used to be, many times the reader or viewer of horror is actually asked to question the norms of society. When done well, horror can enlighten.

Ultimately, we need horror. Stephen King perhaps said it best: “We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.”

(This piece originally appeared in the author’s newsletter, The Haunted House of Herold. If interested in subscribing, contact the author at email@robertheroldauthor.com)

Boo-graphy:
The supernatural has always had the allure of a forbidden fruit, ever since my mother refused to allow me, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved in. (Well, not literally!)

While other kids my age wanted to grow up to be doctors, firefighters, spacemen, and the like, I wanted to be a werewolf.

I have pursued my interests over the years (including playing the sax and flute, and teaching middle school history for 36 years), but supernatural writing always called to me. You could say that I was haunted. Ultimately, I hope my books give you the creeps, and I mean that in the best way possible!

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The Eidola Project – The Eidola Project is a 19th century team of ghost hunters who become ensnared in a deadly investigation of a haunted house. They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a young sideshow medium, and a traumatized Civil War veteran, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses. Will any of them survive?

Moonlight Becomes You – The Eidola Project travels to Petersburg, Virginia, to investigate a series of murders in the Black community—rumored to be caused by a werewolf. Once there, danger comes from all quarters. Not only do they face threats from the supernatural, the KKK objects to the team’s activities, and the group is falling apart. Can they overcome their human frailties to defeat the evil that surrounds them?

Totem of Terror – The Eidola Project, a team of 19th Century ghost hunters, have been tasked with trying to stop a deadly shapeshifting demon attacking the native people of La Push, on the Washington Coast. The team brings their own demons with them, in the form of drug addiction, a werewolf’s curse, and being in mourning from the death of a loved one. Can they rise to this new challenge, or will they face the same grisly end as the shapeshifter’s other victims?

Witch Ever Way You Go
When an ill-fated graduate student and his girlfriend are lured into a terrifying world of witchcraft and murder, they become targets for human sacrifice. Is there a chance they can escape a bloodthirsty coven of witches and certain death until the curse is lifted? A spellbinding story of modern horror.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Robert Herold

Meghan: Hi Robert. Welcome back to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Robert: Where do I start! I love the energy associated with the holiday. For a while, even those who say they don’t like scary books and films, get filled with the spirit. (Pun intended!) One of my favorite parts of Halloween is the great yard displays. My wife and I discovered an amazing display last year. It’s on 17th Ave NE, one half block north of NE 125th, for all you Seattle area folks!!

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Robert: Hmmm… Not really, but I do get a tingly feeling on the back of my neck as the hairs stand up.

Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?

Robert: Black Sunday (aka The Mask of Satan). This 1960 Mario Bava movie about witchcraft featured Barbara Steele as a witch who was put to death in a gruesome way. A spiked mask was hammered onto her head in the prologue. At this point, as a ten-year-old, I turned off the TV and hid under the covers of my bed! I revisited the film as an adult, and it holds up well. For you readers who like classic horror flicks, check this out!

For modern chills, I recommend The Witch (a masterpiece of folk horror), the original Exorcist, and Alien for tension and scares.

Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?

Robert: Janet Leigh’s death in Psycho. We are all vulnerable in the shower! Her character just decided to return the money she stole, making her that much more sympathetic. Hitchcock did a masterful job!

Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?

Robert: Nope. In fact, a pet peeve of mine is movie trailers that reveal too much and thereby ruin the film. Far too common nowadays. Trailers should convey the premise and tone of the film, enticing the viewer, not reveal 95% of the plot.

Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?
The Exorcist, Ellen Burstyn was hot!

Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?

Robert: I’d choose Dana Andrews’ character in Curse of the Demon. Peggy Cummins was hot!

Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?

Robert: Hands down, or paws down, it would be the Wolfman. As a child I wanted nothing more than to be the Wolfman. Fresh snow provided me the opportunity to walk out onto neighbor’s lawns halfway and make paw prints with my fingers as far as I could stretch. I would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn! (They were skeptical.)

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Robert: Checking out Halloween displays in the area.

Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

Robert: There so many! I guess my favorite would be “The Monster Mash.” On my Facebook page is a film clip of me singing (apologies to Bobby “Boris” Pickett) my rendition when performing with a local band, The Rainy City Riff Raff. Here’s the link, if you dare (sorry the video quality is poor).

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Robert: My first reading of The Shining. I was alone in my apartment at the time, it was evening, and just as I was reading the scene about room 217 (Kubrick changed it to 237 for the movie), a thunder and lightning storm occurred. Then the power went out!

Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

Robert: See previous answer. ☺

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Robert: Loch Ness Monster. It would be pretty nifty to have the Nessie in there paddling about!

Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?

Robert: A movie theater in Seattle, The Harvard Exit, is now the Mexican Consulate. In its movie house days, there were a number of ghostly events. I spoke to the staff and they mentioned several spooky encounters. One was the sound of women talking, but when staff person entered the room, no one was there. She also reported that a radio would turn on inexplicably. A manager reportedly came to work one day before anyone else. When she entered the lobby, the fire was lit, lights were on, and chairs were circled around the fire. The place used to be women’s club. I attended many films there over the years, and the spookiest thing I ever saw was a rat running across the stage!

Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

Robert: A pen. As we all know, the pen is mightier than the sword. In this case, I would write myself a survival scenario!

Meghan: Let’s have some fun! Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?

Robert: A werewolf. Not only have I wanted to be one since I was a boy, but you would get to live normally for most of each month.

Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?

Robert: An alien invasion has more opportunities for interesting technology and perhaps alien sympathizers. You can’t reason with a zombie!

Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?

Robert: How old are the bodies? Can they be served up with gravy? Hollandaise sauce? Bearnaise?

Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?

Robert: The Poltergeist house. It has a swimming pool!

Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?

Robert: Cheese. I like cheese. (Maggots would provide extra protein!)

Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?

Robert: A witch’s caldron. It might be tasty, having subtle flavors that can only come from fillet of a fenny snake, along with eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog, adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing!

Boo-graphy:
The supernatural has always had the allure of a forbidden fruit, ever since my mother refused to allow me, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved in. (Well, not literally!)

While other kids my age wanted to grow up to be doctors, firefighters, spacemen, and the like, I wanted to be a werewolf.

I have pursued my interests over the years (including playing the sax and flute, and teaching middle school history for 36 years), but supernatural writing always called to me. You could say that I was haunted. Ultimately, I hope my books give you the creeps, and I mean that in the best way possible!

Website
Amazon
Facebook
Twitter
Email

The Eidola Project – The Eidola Project is a 19th century team of ghost hunters who become ensnared in a deadly investigation of a haunted house. They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a young sideshow medium, and a traumatized Civil War veteran, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses. Will any of them survive?

Moonlight Becomes You – The Eidola Project travels to Petersburg, Virginia, to investigate a series of murders in the Black community—rumored to be caused by a werewolf. Once there, danger comes from all quarters. Not only do they face threats from the supernatural, the KKK objects to the team’s activities, and the group is falling apart. Can they overcome their human frailties to defeat the evil that surrounds them?

Totem of Terror – The Eidola Project, a team of 19th Century ghost hunters, have been tasked with trying to stop a deadly shapeshifting demon attacking the native people of La Push, on the Washington Coast. The team brings their own demons with them, in the form of drug addiction, a werewolf’s curse, and being in mourning from the death of a loved one. Can they rise to this new challenge, or will they face the same grisly end as the shapeshifter’s other victims?

Witch Ever Way You Go
When an ill-fated graduate student and his girlfriend are lured into a terrifying world of witchcraft and murder, they become targets for human sacrifice. Is there a chance they can escape a bloodthirsty coven of witches and certain death until the curse is lifted? A spellbinding story of modern horror.