Christopher Hainsworth is no stranger to short-form stories or to horror – a four time finalist and winner of Deathscribe 2009, he was an obvious choice for one of the Motel 666 pieces. He talks about some of the challenges of the form, as well as his favorite types of horror.
Do you consider yourself a horror fan? What is your favorite genre of horror?
I certainly am now. When I was a child, about four years old, I saw a movie called A Carnival of Souls. It made me sleep with the lights on until I was about 12. Then I saw John Carpenters The Thing and was instantly a fan. For myself, I prefer horror that involves something horrific coming into the mundane. Movies like The Exorcist or The original Poltergeist. To me the violation or intrusion into the every day life is what is horrific. If you go into the scary scary abandoned haunted hospital, you get what’s coming to you.
What was the first time you encountered horror in entertainment? Was it a book, a movie, a play or something else?
I had seen Bela Lugosi’s Dracula and Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein and Lon Chaney’s The Wolf Man at a very young age. But Carnival of Souls warped my little four year old brain. What was worse was that the movie faded from general knowledge so I began to question whether or not I even saw it.
What is the main challenge to creating short form horror stories? Have you done any horror writing before, or is this your first time? What is your favorite part about writing a horror piece?
It’s challenging to establish suspense in a short period of time. Also laying the groundwork for what the situation is. Horror usually involves a lot of backstory, when you don’t have the luxury of the longform you have to make sure your entire story isn’t backstory. I have been a finalist four times for Wild Claw’s DeathScribe competition. I won in 2009 for my piece Remembrance. I have also written several short pieces for different Wild Claw salons as well. What I love about writing horror is taking a normal situation and extrapolating it to its worst case scenario. To me, the best horror works as metaphor or allegory.
How have motels played a role in your life?
Most of my motel experiences involve long drives to Florida as a child. The differences between hotels and motels is a hotel is a destination. A Motel is something that you pass through. The stay is meant to be temporary, usually just hours. Usually for sleep or assignations. Which would probably be the subject of another Motel 6 66 endeavor.
Was Christina’s World an inspiration for the story or did it work well with what you had written already?
Christina’s world was part of the original description of the set that all the writers were given when we were contacted about writing a piece for Motel 6 66. But it was the inspiration for the rest of my piece. I’ve always found it somewhat haunting. Being stuck in a place unable to move forward and where you want to get to being just out of reach. So I started thinking about the significance of both motel art and art that would have personal meeting to one of the characters. Plus I like the idea of the fourth wall, of there being something that only the characters can see that the audience can’t and they have to use their imaginations to fill in that information.