For the last post I get to host this week for Women In Horror Month, let me introduce my friend Spellvira, Anne Hogue-Boucher – Queen of the Macabre on Fun With Torture.
Oh yes, not so much in real life, please, especially not if it’s someone I like or love. No, I like to write about torture, and I adore torturing all of my characters to varying degrees.
Psychological torture is fairly easy for me. I’ve seen it happen in real life, firsthand, in my own past and when working as a supervised therapist at a psychiatric hospital. People in the hospital were tortured trying to get help for Major Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar I & II, and many other conditions. It did not inspire my writing, but it gave me a glimpse into a person’s world where they were convinced they were being watched, stalked, poisoned, and other horrible things were happening to them.
So giving it a supernatural element and casting it into my own world, the world of Silver Hollow, wasn’t a difficult task. But it was necessary. Writing about characters who may or may not understand they’re enduring the supernatural or otherworldly/inter-dimensional is a way to cope with the actual evils I have seen in my life. It keeps me stable, I suppose.
When I first published Now Entering Silver Hollow, some people were shocked by it because there are some brutal moments where characters are stretched to their psychological limit. One of my favorite characters, in fact, gets put on the literary rack and nearly pulled apart.
Her name is Kathryn Cross, MD. She believes in logic and none of the supernatural nonsense I put in front of her. Of course, encountering these things drives her to the edge of madness. She is ravaged by it, and somehow manages to pull herself together.
But that’s the appeal of psychological torture, isn’t it? At least for me. I’m fascinated by people who can go through the very worst and yet manage to keep going. I’m intrigued by their coping mechanisms (healthy or not), and impressed by the human spirit’s strength to carry on no matter what. The will to survive is at the core of enduring psychological torture. Some of my characters have it, and some don’t.
I think that’s what appeals to fans of psychological horror. It’s not just the thrill of what might happen next to such-and-such a character, it’s thinking about how they would survive such a thing. Perhaps there’s even an element of ‘thank goodness that’s not me’ in there, too. Some also seem to enjoy it for the same reason I do: watching characters survive some of the most maddening and horrible events.
Writing about torture is fun. I’d write about it any day over enduring it myself. I can imagine anyone would, and that’s likely one of the reasons why psychological horror has such a wide appeal.
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