For a writer, understanding culture and observing it are two essential skills they need to possess.
Of course, that’s just my opinion, but read any number of authors from either the literary world or genre streams and you’ll catch on to that nugget fast.
When it comes to the horror genre, digging deep into the recesses of past cultures, and even the current evolution of cultures existing today is even better.
It allows them to understand just what makes people afraid. And it varies from country to country and like any trend, encapsulates the zeitgeist that haunts a society’s consciousness.
What makes us afraid is more often than not, associated with the unknown. So, the supernatural, paranormal are still prevalent in our culture, much to the chagrin of atheists.
I find it a fascinating part of our culture. The belief that there are, “more things in heaven and earth … than are dreamt of in your philosophy” is a spectacular, and obvious comment on the arrogance of humans.
Now, I have an affinity for the paranormal. I typically eat that shit up with a spoon. If there’s a spiritual horror film, or creature feature hitting the theatres, I’ll be there to see it. I’ve bypassed seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron in favour of the Poltergeist reboot. I’ve skipped Jurassic World (so far), in favour of Insidious Chapter 3.
Often times, I have to dig deep into what set me onto this path of the paranormal. Sure, I was over-zealous in reading and watching documentaries while a teenager, but that information just added to my imagination.
But I think now’s the time to reveal where I possibly believe the supernatural fascinated me. And it dates back to 1983, in a rural part of Maple Ridge, British Columbia.
My parents, seeking a weekend alone, dropped me off with a family, the Fultons, before they set off for Vancouver Island. I was four at the time.
I can’t remember where exactly, but it was a somewhat rustic home with plenty of critters about. I spent the one night in a small room where two single beds were set up. One of the kids slept in the one bed, and I in the other clutching a stuffed Dino.
In the middle of the night, I awoke to the door creaking open. Since the family had a dog, I shuffled down on hands and knees to the end of the bed to see if the dog had come in.
As I pulled myself back to the head, I noticed in the corner opposite the door a large black mass. It started to take the shape of a person. Immediately, I threw the blanket over my head.
That was pretty much it. I can’t remember much more than that.
But even with the spartan memory of an event that happened over 30 years ago, I wanted to know more about it. As a kid, I watched Unsolved Mysteries and Sightings with my mom. We’d swap intriguing, unexplainable tales.
My mom even shared a few eerie experiences she has had over the years.
As a teenager, I read plenty about the unknown. I did my best in university to track down the old Time Life series, Mysteries of the Unknown. I read Stephen King, Richard Laymon, and Bentley Little. I did read Dean Koontz, but admittedly, wish I hadn’t.
I even went as far as having an hour-long conversation with Ed Warren back when I was the editor at the university newspaper, The Window.
My hunger to consume the paranormal is fairly unparalleled. I approach my interest it with a rational mind and swept it under the rug briefly after I pissed off a few people in a ghost group during my 20s.
Whenever I go on vacation, I have to visit at least one place of paranormal prominence. Whether it be the house at Amityville, when I went to NYC, or say Cadboro Bay in Victoria, B.C. I have to get my paranormal on.
Regardless, it has led to some spectacular moments in creativity. And I keep a keen eye on any new or prominent paranormal tales, or eerie mythologies: Cannock Chase and the Slender Man.
And one of these days, I get back all those Time Life Mysteries of the Unknown books that I gave up when I moved in with my wife.