I knew I loved horror the second a Discovery Channel mockumentary made me think aliens were invading the world. Okay, maybe it was after I stopped crying and my heart rate returned to something resembling normal. We had recently moved to the Bay Area from Poland, where most of my childhood interactions involved running around a cow every afternoon, so my life already felt chaotic without the shaky camera of the McPherson Tapes convincing me society was on the brink of collapse.
It was way past my bedtime when I snuck downstairs to see what my brother was watching, and much later, still, by the time I could be convinced grey shapes wouldn't pry our windows open and drag me out of the house. 20 years later and I can still feel the tremors rocking through my body. I hated every second of it. But hating it didn't prevent a small yet unignorable part of me from wanting to slip back into the turbulence of my heartbeat. That small part of me soon became the driving force behind exploring abandoned asylums, eating ice cream cones inside Romanian graveyards, and spiraling into a world of creature features, haunted houses, and slashers.
Finding a home in horror was easy because I genuinely like being afraid. Finding like-minded individuals in a religious family that insisted I be sent to catholic schools with a two-inch above-the-knee dress code was another. But like most millennials, the internet filled in the parts of myself I couldn't find in real life. And sure, maybe it was a little questionable that the parts I was seeking involved organs being ripped out of someone's ass by a pool filter, but I have since found people who don't have an issue with me talking about a man crawling inside his girlfriend's ladybits after hearing weird noises only to get pulled into a lurid affair with someone who lives inside her haunted vagina.
So maybe I still get weird looks when I bring up Cows, Talia, or They All Died Screaming at a party, but at least I know I've found my people. And finding my people has led me to discover more terrifying and absurd books that bring me back to being that scared little girl who was convinced aliens were about to bust through the door and abduct her family. And while that's a weird feeling to crave, I know I'm not alone in chasing after books that will make me want to sleep with the light on. I'm very excited to keep spreading the fear throughout our community.