In 1921, American author Howard Phillips Lovecraft began publishing the first of his stories in what would later be collectively coined the Cthulhu mythos. Heavily influenced by the tradition of Gothic horror, H. P. Lovecraft found inspiration in the work of such esteemed authors as Edgar Allan Poe, Algernon Blackwood, Bram Stoker, Robert W. Chambers, and Arthur Machen.
Once safely past the harvest season, winter begins, bringing with it a storytelling season that begins in November and runs through the end of the year. The Victorians especially delighted in the tradition of telling spooky tales during the darkest nights of the year, a custom that reaches back hundreds of years.
As a genre, horror is deeply rooted in the traditions of Gothic literature. These tales express haunting reminders that there is no escape from the past. They contain a creeping sense of dread that is magnified through setting, one of the hallmarks of the subgenre.
The presence of pumpkin spice, fall color, and lengthening shadows heralds the holiday season. Spectacle soon follows with creepy costumes, jack-o’-lanterns, and haunted attractions. It is the beginning and the end, that dreaded time when the dead walk among the living.
Horror belongs under a speculative fiction umbrella that also includes fantasy and science fiction, and while horror is identified by its ability to create intense feelings of terror, shock, or disgust in the audience, the genre’s aesthetic often infiltrates its sister genres.
One of the three main categories of speculative fiction, horror is a traditional genre of literature and film designed to produce a sense of dread or fear in the audience. Rooted in folk literature, horror stories can feature supernatural elements such as ghosts, witches, demons, ghouls, and monsters.
Genre is a literary term used to describe categories of fiction. You'll recognize the popular ones, which turn up as special sections at your favorite bookstore: science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, and horror. It's is a handy way to group similar types of stories, but genre is often misunderstood.