When I was in high school, I was cast as Jonathan Harker in the play, Dracula. I told my friends I was playing Lead Victim.
By the time of our final performance, I came to love the way a vampire story works. An indestructible and deceptive demon threatens to destroy all of mankind, and it would take an army to stop him. But since no one will believe them, a small handful of dedicated vigilantes rely on themselves alone to stop the threat. And because of that, they become desperate. Normally kind and law-abiding citizens suddenly have no qualms about breaking and entering, stealing necessary items, threatening violence, and even committing the most unthinkable acts—like driving a stake through someone’s heart.
Heroes who fight monsters will stop at nothing.
That’s why I love them.
When I began to write The Red Rider, about a 16-year old Red Riding Hood fighting evil werewolves, I was surprised at how easily the story flowed. It was the sort of story I had always hoped to write. A girl in peril, who rises to become a skilled Robin Hood-type superhero, striking fear into the hearts of those who once bullied her.
It also had monsters.
I have no interest in most horror movies (they creep me out), but I have come to deeply appreciate horror literature. Great stories have great conflicts, and horror is the purest form of that struggle. It is through horror that heroes are made. Through the deadliest and most mind-bending challenges, everyday people rise to face monstrous enemies and beat them back, by whatever means possible.
Because they have to. To survive. To protect their loved ones. Or even to find peace for themselves.
We all face monsters in life. Some people call them challenges. Some call them inner demons. And some of them actually are demons.
In the fairy tales we’ve grown up on, fictional monsters are not there to give us nightmares, but to give us hope. Hope that dragons and witches and evil sorcerers can be defeated by good people.
By those who choose to become heroes.
It’s even more encouraging to recognize that these heroes don’t start out as heroes, but as everyday people like you and me. They become heroes when they choose to do what’s right and necessary, even if no one else will.
In Jaws, Chief Brody doesn’t start out as a hero. Just a man trying to hold down a job as the sheriff of a quiet town. But the monster shark teaches him to face problems instead of pretending they don’t exist, like the rest of the town. He learns to face his fears and risk his life in order to solve a problem instead of hoping someone else will clean it up for him.
In Jurassic Park, Dr. Alan Grant doesn’t plan to be a hero. He simply wants to critique a theme park for a large sum of money and avoid children at all costs. But the monster dinosaurs running rampant force him to choose between serving himself and saving two helpless children. Once he rescues them, he discovers a heroic fatherly nature that he never knew he had. He determines to protect the children and lead them safely through the park, as if they were his own kids.
Many people shy away from scary stories because they can’t stomach the ideas and images of those horror movies I mentioned, which emphasize the monster itself. I prefer to read stories which show monsters in all their ugliness and evil …
… and the heroes who defeat them.
“The Red Rider bears teeth, but horror fans will find it gives an exciting chase.”
— Lorehaven Magazine
Read our full review exclusively from the summer 2018 issue of Lorehaven Magazine!