The Language of Fear: a Women in Horror Guest Post with Harli V. Park

TODAY’S BREW: Mocha something from Target

(this part) by Julie 

A self-described squid, this talent-tentacled force somehow manages to cohesively put her work into the world through so many ways, I don’t even know how I can give her justice. Harli’s blog (click here) gives you plenty to dive into, but follow her on Instagram and where I found her, Twitter because she is a veritable whirlwind of art and subconscious brilliance come to life.


The Language of Fear 


Harli V. Park 

The entirety of fiction is based around the Known.

I’m sure its expected that as a horror writer, you think I meant the unknown and that’s just a type. Nope. The known and how we compartmentalize it is something that has and always will be staple in how we as writers create. The best part of being a writer is translating the known with our imaginations into this unique language that transcends perspective. Some of us accomplish this in the fantastical, some in the thrilling, and some in the language of love. Then there are writers like me; those who speak the language of fear, who transform the known into the unknown.

As horror writer, my dialect of fear is almost exclusively psychological often with tones of the sociological. My current manuscript reflects this in the psyche of a little girl – an avatar who has no autonomy and is forced to become something vile in order to obtain it. That premise alone probably resonated with dozens of internalized fears and sent very real chills up spines. That’s what I love. I who speak the language of fear don’t take what you don’t know and try to frighten you with it because the unknown is only a transcendental fear. While it is no less effective, it’s power lasts for only as long as it takes to understand it.  No, to me, the most horrifying scenarios that speak to us on a deeper and decidedly more tangible level are the monsters we know by heart.

I take an extreme amount of joy in being able to portray those monsters for those who may never once have seen them but recognize their shape, recognize their feel which allows them to understand the perspective of someone else who has seen the monster repeatedly. The monsters are ones we’re all haunted by but believe we’re the only ones who see them when, in reality, they just take on different shapes for different eyes.

So why do I choose monsters? Why do I choose horror? Why do I choose to translate the language of fear for human consumption when there is already enough “negativity” in the world at large? Well, why does anyone creative do anything?

Because I’m fluent in the language.

I am African American. I am female. I am nonbinary. I am pansexual. I live with a mental illness called schizoaffective disorder.

When presented with that profile, I believe many can pick out the reasons why the language of fear may as well be my native tongue. The world itself has never been a safe place for me and it became even more intensely dangerous for me as I grew up and discovered more of the person I am and more about the world around me – about people. It is not an overt fear of violence as, while valid, I’ve come to terms with the risk of it since I occupy this planet with other people. No, the greatest fear I’ve faced is invisibility.

The very idea that what I think, what I say, what I desire, and what I personally experience, not only doesn’t matter, but is actively invalidated by not just by those who are hateful, but by those who want to help. This invisibility is such a monster in my life in that it doesn’t allow for connection with my fellow humans and, thus, doesn’t allow for understanding. This fear doesn’t just encapsulate me, but everyone who feels unseen. It’s being told you’re overreacting, its being told you should consider others more than your own issues, its being told that you are paranoid, that you’re simply misunderstanding. This fear doesn’t just apply to me, but it encapsulates everyone who just for moment has their power taken away by the words “Well you’re just…” It’s not a desire to be special but to simply be considered. Invisibility is a fear known to all and its monster is ever shifting before the eyes of those it clutches, and in effort to be heard, we pretend the monster doesn’t exist. In effect, we slowly become invisible to ourselves.

So being so fluent in the language of fear – my everyday a plethora of subtle shadows in my peripheral – I seek to use it to tell stories that have meaning in a way that touch a much baser level than just allegorical retellings of the now and things that only one group of people can truly understand. I write horror and monsters because we all know them. We all know what they cause. How they shape us… and how they save us.

While being confronted with monsters – with something horrifying, we come to realize that we are not the only ones. That the monsters are real for someone else just like it is to you. In that moment, we who fear are no longer invisible. In my opinion, fear defines what we love and knowing that fear is shared and understood, allows for us to take the risk of sharing what is loved and conquering the monsters together. So I write horror. So, I write monsters. I speak the language of fear and I wait for someone to speak back, so that they know that someone sees them.

Published by Julie Hutchings, Pretty Scary Author

I write scary stories with pretty insides. Mythology-twisting author and editor, reptile hoarder, coffee drinker, harpy. Author of The Vampires of Fate and The Harpy.

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