The horror genre is immensely close to my heart, as deeply disturbing and weirdly wonderful as that may sound to you. I have been a fan of the genre probably from an inappropriately young age already, but at the same time I have very selective taste and I’m careful about the material I engage with, as I believe that there is still vastly untapped potential in the world of horror.
To describe my tastes simply, I am certainly not a fan of your mindless gore-fests or typical murder sprees filled with flat characters. My favourite works in the genre include the The Haunting of Hill House (2018, Netflix series), The Witch (2015, film), Psycho (1960, film), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, film), A Quiet Place (2018, film), Silent Hill (video game series), The Babadook (2014, film), The Wicker Man (1973, film), Hush (2016, film), It Follows (2014, film), P.T. (2014, experimental game), Resident Evil 7 (2017, game), Alien: Isolation (2014, game), Halloween (1978, film), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006, film – although closer to dark fantasy than horror) and many others.
There are naturally too many works to name, but as you can probably deduce from the above list I am very enthused by character-driven, atmospheric, psychological, abstract and/or subtle and experimental pieces. Horror’s greatest strengths may rest in its ambiguity and atmosphere, but I always feel that character and their psychological connection to fear are equally as important.
This has been the driving motivation behind my own horror novel that is currently in the works, titled ‘The Wraith in the Woods’.
In the deepest depths of the night, Noelene wakes up alone in the forest of Tokai.
Like being trapped in the midst of a dream, unable to remember how she first arrived there, she wades through the darkness to find her way home.
Instead, she finds her mother wandering the very same woods, disoriented and lost to herself.
It was to be the last time she would ever see her mother alive.
For someone else was in the forest that terrible night, concealed in shadow, watching and foreboding; and all who dwelled within belonged to her.
The book is set in Cape Town, South Africa and is entirely centred around Tokai forest. While having a creepy and mind-bending entity as the titular villain is naturally the attraction, what is just as if not more of an attraction to me is having the character drama and family relationships be at the forefront of the story.
That is why I have focused on one setting and a handful of characters, namely two sisters Noelene and Hanneli and their troubled relationship with their father Ben after a deeply traumatic night that shapes their entire lives.
Therefore my hope is that while the story will keep you guessing and mentally creeped out, the characters will keep you turning pages just as much as the mystery itself.
I would love to share a whole lot more about the novel, but that is best left for another time. I aim to complete the story by 2021 where I will then look at the options available for publication and getting the book out there.
In the meantime what I can leave you with is a humble suggestion to take a gander at my Instagram page, @storiesbyazhar, where I have shared a teaser from the book extracted from the very first page. I may certainly share more in future.
Until then, on and on the story goes.