Catherine "Cat" Cavendish hails from North Wales, where she writes paranormal and gothic horror. Her novella Linden Manor was one of four winners for the first Samhain Horror Anthology Competition, and is also part of the anthology What Waits in the Shadows. She has several other titles to her credit, including her latest release, Dark Avenging Angel.
From The Deliciously Scary to the Viscerally Gory…
… and pretty much everything scary in between. Is any genre as all-embracing and comprehensive as Horror?
Let’s look at some other popular genres for a moment. Take Romance. Generally the plot line involves two or more people meeting, going through conflicts until, at the end, despite many odds, they finally get together and sail off into a blissful sunset. Job done.
Crime – one or (usually) more murders take pace in strange circumstances. Author lays all sorts of false trails and traps for the unwary reader and leads them up and down numerous winding lanes. Unlikely sleuth – maybe a little old lady, a priest or a semi-alcoholic, failed private detective who’s down to his last pair of underpants – springs into action and solves the crime, nailing the perpetrator on the last page. And we never saw it coming!
Sci Fi. Must include strange new worlds, aliens, attention to detail on the science front, lots of conflict and an unpredictable ending (probably). Probably less formulaic than crime or romance, but still within certain tried and trusted parameters.
But look at horror. What are the parameters there? It should be scary, of course. It should be tense – well, even that depends, because there is a horror comedy sub-genre that is pure entertainment. Apart from those loose rules, horror is full of variety. What does Shirley Jackson’s classic, The Haunting of Hill House have in common with The Exorcist? Or Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black with Stephen King’s Misery? “Not a lot”, I hear you cry. Yet all fall into the same general category. Of course there are many sub-genres to filter down your choices as a reader or writer, but all come under the generous umbrella of Horror.
Now, this is all pretty obvious, I know. Whenever I meet someone for the first time and they ask me what I do, I tell them I am a writer. “Oh really? Gosh, that’s interesting,” they invariably say. “What do you write?”
Cue transformation of expression from one of genuine interest to one of amazement, often accompanied by a shudder. “Oh I don’t read that sort of thing. Far too frightening. All that blood and gore.” Vigorous head-shake signals mental shutters have crashed down.
“Ah, but I don’t write that sort of horror. You won’t find many flying dismembered body parts in my books,” I say. “I just like to scare people. You know, ratchet up the suspense, create ghostly atmospheres, haunted houses, that sort of thing.”
But it’s all in vain. As far as many people are concerned, horror stories comprise terror, messing with dark forces we should never mess with (and which can spill over into real life, if we’re not very careful), resulting in the spilling of liberal quantities of Kensington Gore and missing limbs – probably eaten by a zombie/werewolf/vampire.
I think the greatest surprise people have is that a woman writes horror – and there are, of course, women writing all sub-genres of horror from the creepy to the visceral. Apparently, as a woman (especially one my age), I should be writing cozy mysteries about reading groups, knitting circles and so on, or I should be whisking my readers away to exotic locations while indulging in a turbulent romance between tall, dark, handsome hero and girl-next-door heroine. Well, tell that to Susan Hill or Anne Rice (if you dare). Tell it to Lisa Morton, Sephera Giron, Elena Hearty. Come to that, did anyone tell Mary Shelley to write nice, homely stories?
I shall remain an unrepentant, unreformed horror reader and writer, getting my daily fix of the widest range of literature in any genre and loving every minute of it. Come and join me!
Cat’s latest novel – The Devil’s Serenade – comes out on April 19th. Here’s a taste of what to expect:Maddie had forgotten that cursed summer. Now she’s about to remember…
“Madeleine Chambers of Hargest House” has a certain grandeur to it. But as Maddie enters the Gothic mansion she inherited from her aunt, she wonders if its walls remember what she’s blocked out of the summer she turned sixteen.
She’s barely settled in before a series of bizarre events drive her to question her sanity. Aunt Charlotte’s favorite song shouldn’t echo down the halls. The roots of a faraway willow shouldn’t reach into the cellar. And there definitely shouldn’t be a child skipping from room to room.
As the barriers in her mind begin to crumble, Maddie recalls the long-ago summer she looked into the face of evil. Now, she faces something worse. The mansion’s long-dead builder, who has unfinished business—and a demon that hungers for her very soul.
The Devil’s Serenade can be pre-ordered now from:
and other online retailers
More information can be found at:
About the author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows. Her novels, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine are also published by Samhain as is her latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel.
You can connect with Cat here: