Tribe, a remarkably intelligent and literate gentleman (why he publishes my crap is beyond me) has an interview with author Christa Faust. Aside from several tie-in novels, Snakes On A Plane, Final Destination III, etc, she's also an accomplished novelist in her own right, exploring pulpy noir stories with the likes of Hoodtown (warning: PDF), Money Shot and soon Choke Hold.
She's good. I think I may hate her for how good she is. Fun and pulpy and nasty and no-holds-barred, as all good noir should be.
This part of the interview struck me as very interesting, and something I wholeheartedly agree with.
But yeah, I do think horror and noir are kissing cousins. They both deal with the darker side of human nature, though horror often uses the metaphor of the supernatural while noir sticks to the horrors of the real world. Of course, there is a quiet, more traditional subgenre of horror in which brave humans always beat back the evil monster and restore normality, (the horror equivalent of “cozies”) but edgier, morally ambiguous horror leads the reader on that noirish downward spiral in which nothing is what it seems and everyone is, to quote James Ellroy, “fucked.”Word.
I’ve always seen a clear parallel between the Splatterpunk horror writers of the 80s and early 90s and the hardboiled Black Mask writers of the 20s and early 30s. Both groups pissed off their predecessors by breaking all the rules. They both thumbed their noses at proper English and used vulgar, “common” language. Both depicted graphic, realistic violence and sex in a way that was quite shocking to readers of their respective eras. And both changed the course of history while many of their more traditional, rule-obeying contemporaries have since fallen into obscurity.
Over the last few years we've been getting a lot of cross-over with paranormal and horror. I make the distinction only because a lot of the paranormal cross-overs seem to be driven more in Romance than anywhere else. Horror Romance won't sell. Paranormal Romance, well, there's a different story. Not a lot of people are exploring horror and noir, however.
There's Charlie Huston's Already Dead and it's follow-up, No Dominion, hard-boiled vampire action.
But other than that there's not a lot out there. Cross-overs are tricky. Everyone wants to pigeonhole a book. It's how they get sold. Is it horror? Is it noir? Look at Anne Frasier. Her latest book, Pale Immortal definitely crosses over from Thriller to Horror and back again very well. I think it was marketed wrong as something between mystery and thriller and it never really truck me as either. The publisher should be bitch slapped for that. The horror is understated, but very much a part of the story. I would go so far as to say that it drives it, in fact.
Oh, and as a plug, buy the goddamn book. It's remarkably well done and one of the best horror novels I've read in years. Strong character driven plot, lots of dark secrets and moody as all get out. She's working on the sequel. Buy that one when it comes out, too.
In this post on her blog she admits that she is, in fact, a horror writer. God love ya, Anne. There aren't nearly enough GOOD horror writers out there.
This whole lack of cross-over both saddens me and makes me happy. On the one hand, there aren't a lot of those sorts of books done well that I particularly enjoy. Already Dead is hands down the winner so far. But it's noir first and horror second. I like reading horror and crime. like Reese's they're two great tastes that taste great together.
But on the other hand, I've got a vested interest in horror noir. It's what I'm writing. By the time Zombie Joe is ready to sell (yes that's really the title) I want there to be a market for it. Of course, if Ken Bruen writes a zombie story I might as well just hang it up.
So where do we draw the lines? When is it horror and when is it noir? If you throw a demon into the story is it horror? or is it just a cartoon characterization of a noir antagonist? Thoughts? Comments? Rude opinions about my personal hygiene? Sound off, people. Let me know what you think.