Supernatural & Occult Fiction
I’ve talked before about the uncertainties I have when it comes to genre designations. What I write is horror, almost certainly, but horror is a big country, and I’m far from the first person to wonder where exactly my flag is planted in that dark territory. This isn’t really a post about that, not exactly, but it provides an interesting segue.
I recently read Spook Stories by E.F. Benson, about as charming a collection of ghost stories as you’re likely to encounter. I got it from the library, and the edition I got was a hardcover put out by Arno Press as part of a book line called Supernatural & Occult Fiction. There’s a list of all the books in the series here. I’ve heard of several of them, of course, and others are completely new to me. I’m definitely going to start doing some research, and adding some of these volumes to my to-read queue. Based on the titles alone, if nothing else.
But, I dunno, something about the name of the book line really struck me. Supernatural and Occult Fiction. It’s so simple and scholarly-sounding, almost antiquarian, as befits most of the recognizable titles in their stable. Yet it’s also evocative. The minute I see those words, it makes me want to read those books on a gray rainy day, or on the proverbial dark and stormy night. So, is this a useful subgenre distinction? Supernatural and Occult Fiction? Probably not. But it does sum up most of what I write decently well, and it’s definitely got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Not a bad designation. Supernatural is a word that seems to conjure the appropriate images and feelings in most people. It certainly would be more on the mark than simply saying horror, which as you say covers a lot of ground. There is no small amount of great horror, in film and literature, that does not contain any supernatural or fantastic elements.