The Horrors Hiding in Plain Sight by Rebecca Rowland #GuestPost #tour & #giveaway! #Psychological #Horror #Transgressive #DarkFiction #ShortStories @SDSXXTours

The Horrors Hiding In Plain Sight by Rebecca Rowland

The Horrors Hiding In Plain Sight by Rebecca Rowland

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Guest blog: Killing Them Softly: Music and Dark Fiction 

by Rebecca Rowland

A few months ago, I happened to catch the Lemonheads’ rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.” As happens to many of us when we have too much free time (hello, Co-Vid furlough!) and unfettered access to that rabbit hole we call the internet, I searched for information on the song. Ala Robert Frost’s path in the woods, way led onto way and I soon found myself knee-deep in a tangle of posts only tangentially related to the song. But, poof! a short story was born.

My experience is not a novel one. If you ask most writers, they will tell you about their own often commensal relationships with music. Horror author Michael Aloisi loves the soundtracks composed by Clint Mansell; walk in on him crafting a new story and you’ll hear music from The Fountain or Moon wafting from his speakers. Shawn Macomber’s piece in Decibel Magazine’s bi-monthly “Tales from the Metalnomicon” column on musician and splatterpunk raconteur John Skipp fleshes out heavy metal’s push and pull relationship with the horror sub-genre. https://www.decibelmagazine.com/2012/12/21/tales-from-the-metalnomicon-john-skipp/ 

When I am reading a piece of fiction, I relish when an author seamlessly slips in an earworm, allowing it to wriggle about my brain as the scene unfolds in my head. Music can establish setting, reinforce theme, and create atmosphere. Jennifer Egan incorporates Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” in her A Visit from the Good Squad. WhoSampled.com lists more than fifteen remakes of the 1977 ditty (of which, Siouxsie and the Banshees’ is my unabashed favorite, but I’m a child of the 80s) that, at least according to critics, embodies the experience of a nomadic outcast. Feeling like an outsider, searching for identity: there couldn’t be more relatable themes for a piece of fiction, and isn’t that what writing is all about: establishing a brand-new location that everyone, no matter where they began their journey, can find?

When I was writing many of the stories in The Horrors Hiding in Plain Sight, Marilyn Manson’s album The Pale Emperor (2015) was on nearly constant shuffle on my phone. “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge” was the first song that really stuck with me. Its insistent, breathy beat intertwined with hypnotic humming swaying below Manson’s lyrics followed me long after I’d shut off the music, but it’s the song’s multifaceted meaning that acted as inspiration. A “binge” could be interpreted a number of different ways, but the image of someone gorging themselves brings to mind the filling of a bottomless hole with something pleasurable, an escape through overconsumption. Most connotations of binging are negative: eating disorders, substance abuse, obsessive love, yet all are forms of escape to some degree. So many of the characters in Horrors are doing just that; whether it’s Bradley’s fixation on his co-worker, Jesse’s obsession with rigging, or Richard’s fascination with a new student, each character discovers a sustenance that makes him feel whole again, but like any other addiction, the outlet eventually leads to destruction. 

Manson wrote “Killing Strangers” as a dark paean to PTSD and the misconceptions associated with it after his father revealed to him the difficulties he had adjusting to the world following his service in Vietnam. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jan/18/marilyn-manson-i-created-a-fake-world  The lyrics resonated with me, this idea of how we project so much of our own horrors onto others, and I realized: at times, we as writers do this in our work, allegorically or otherwise. “The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles” and its acoustic rendition “Fated, Faithful, Fatal” are still, to this day, my favorite songs on the album. A demon who collects damned souls is an allusion that appears destined for a dark fiction collection, but moreover, the repeated chorus of “Are we fated, faithful, or fatal?” is a commentary on the complexity, for better or worse, of human relationships. All of the characters in Horrors are either bolstered or damaged (and in many cases, both) by their need for, reliance on, or inability to form human connections. Coincidentally, that’s precisely what music and literature do: they build bridges between writer and reader, composer and listener, and establish a communal refuge no matter where our individual paths are leading. 

Book Tour and Giveaway

The Horrors Hiding in Plain Sight
by Rebecca Rowland
Genre: Psychological Horror, Transgressive Dark Fiction, Short Stories
Three adolescent bullies discover that the vicious crime for which they were never charged will haunt them in unimaginably horrific ways; a dominatrix and a bondage fetishist befriend one another as one’s preoccupation grows to consume his life. A man persuades his wife to start a family, but her reluctant pregnancy comes with a dreadful side effect. A substitute teacher’s curiosity about a veteran teacher’s methodology provides her with a lesson she won’t soon forget. An affluent, xenophobic lawyer callously kills two immigrants with her car with seeming impunity; a childless couple plays a sadistic game with a neglected juvenile each Halloween. An abusive father, a dating site predator, a neglected concierge, and an obsessed co-worker: they are all among the residents of Rebecca Rowland’s universe, and they dwell in the everyday realm of crime and punishment tempered with fixation and madness. There are no vampires, zombies, or magical beings here; no, what lurk in this world are even more terrifying. Once you meet them, you will think twice before turning your back on that seemingly innocuous neighbor or coming to the aid of the helpless damsel in the dark parking lot. These monsters don’t lurk under your bed or in the shadows: they are the people you see every day at work, in the supermarket, and in broad daylight. They are the horrors that hide in plain sight, and they will unsettle you more than any supernatural being ever could.
Trigger Warning:
Contains graphic violence (though not continually) including accidental death, murder, and suicide; sexual content, and occasional graphic language. Sexual assault is implied but not described in a graphic nature. No animals are harmed.
Rebecca Rowland is the transgressive dark fiction author of the short story collection The Horrors Hiding in Plain Sight, co-author of the novel Pieces, and curator of the horror anthologies Ghosts, Goblins, Murder, and Madness; Shadowy Natures, and the upcoming The Half That You See and Unburied. Her writing has appeared in venues such as Coffin Bell, Waxing & Waning, and the
WiHM online collections The Ones You Don’t Bring Home to Mama and Final Girls with 20/20 Vision and has been anthologized in collections by Red Room Press, Transmundane Press, Forty-Two Books, Emerald Bay Books, Twisted Wing Productions, Thurston Howl Publications, J. Ellington Ashton Press, and Dark Ink. To surreptitiously stalk her, visit RowlandBooks.com.

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