Today, I have a guest post from Rin Chupeco herself! She talks about the nuances of East and West horror, as well as her fascination with the genre.
About Rin Chupeco:
Despite uncanny resemblances to Japanese revenants, Rin Chupeco has always maintained her sense of humor. Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. She’s been a technical writer and travel blogger, but now makes things up for a living. The Girl from the Well is her debut novel.
You mentioned you hated Casper, so why a horror novel?
I guess that's because I don't consider Casper a horror movie, or a horror comic strip, or a horror-anything, really. The whole basis of Casper is that the only difference between him and your average friendly little boy is that he's a ghost - which, in my opinion, is not much of a difference at all.
I like my ghosts bloody and vindictive. I like my ghosts just a little bit insane, to better compliment the world they left and then came back to haunt. I'm a big fan of all kinds of horror, from those that suggest atmosphere and leave the rest to your imagination (The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson are fantastic this way) to full-blown in-your-face body horror typical in a lot of Asian ghost movies. Stephen King novels were the first adult books I ever read (I was around six, and his scenes do tend to stick with you even as you grow older) and I remember being so fascinated and creeped/grossed out as well as being so, so impressed at how he took a story about ghosts and also made it into a story about people and the human experience. It takes a lot to impress then-pretentious six-year-old me, and it was such a good initial impression that it jumpstarted my love for horror, and still inspires me to write my own stories in that same vein. If you enjoy horror like I do, but haven't found a book yet that's creeped you out so much that you love it, then that means you haven't read enough books.
What is it about Japanese horror that inspired you to write The Girl from the Well? What makes it different from its Western counterpart?
Asian horror is all about the atmosphere. Sometimes it's so subtle that you don't realize it until you're halfway through a book wondering why certain pages or scenes leave you feeling so uneasy (usually until an unexpected plot twist in the end that makes you think, holy crap). Sometimes it all but slaps you in the face with it. Western horror, I have found, deals more with blood and gore - the bloodier the scene, the better the horror. It's not the kind of thing I ever grew to love though, because I'd always thought it was cheating. Big guys in masks chasing after petite girls while shaking detached heads at your audience isn't real horror for me, it's just playing on their fears of being killed in the worst ways possible. (Among Western movies, M. Night Shymalan - let me finish before you throw things at me - came the closest to evoking Asian-style horror in a very Western way, though his execution of them has a lot of flaws) As shown in movies like The Grudge or Shutter, horror for me is not knowing you're already dead as soon as the ghost turns its attention on you. That's the kind of creepiness I wanted to convey in The Girl from the Well - her victims don't know it, but they're already dead men walking.
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About The Girl from the Well:
You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.
A dead girl walks the streets.
She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.
And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.
Because the boy has a terrifying secret - one that would just kill to get out.
The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as "Dexter" meets "The Grudge", based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.