Tag Archives: horror

Authors Answer 54 – Torturing Our Characters

Friday the 13th, a day that brings horror and terror into people’s lives. Or is that the movie series? Our authors write a variety of genres, from supernatural to horror to fantasy to military sci-fi to children’s books. Sounds like the perfect mix to talk about torture in fiction. I mean, children are torture, aren’t they? I know, I have one. But I’m just kidding. The question is, just how many of us could torture a character?


Question 54 – It’s Friday the 13th. Horror is a popular genre. Could you torture one of your characters?

Linda G. Hill

I could. In fact, depending on which character it is, I might enjoy it. But really, we torture our characters all the time, in one way or another. It’s what makes an interesting story.

Gregory S. Close

Yes.  I don’t feel good about it, but sometimes that’s where the story goes.

One of my beta readers for In Siege of Daylight said that the Postlude was one of the most disturbing things he’d ever read.  I agreed.  I was disturbed writing it, too.  It didn’t depict torture so much as the hollowed out shell of a person that had been subjected to long term, sustained, physical and psychological torture.  The leftover human being that results from that is a little disquieting.

But hey, foreshadowing for the sequel and all that… oops.  Spoiler alert.

Caren Rich

Yes! An evil twinkle shines in her eye. I enjoy writing cruel scenes. I don’t have many per book, maybe one, but they are fun to write. There’s something freeing about exploring the darker side of human nature.

S. R. Carrillo

Disregarding the fact that I already do that with each new chapter, YES. I absolutely love torturing my characters. Demonic possession? Check. Slow descent into insanity? Check. Spectral haunting? Check. Struggles with sexuality and identity? Check and check. Wrestling with the unearthly? Double check on that. Torture’s the best – it’s what gives a story palpable tension, emotion and drive.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I’m sure I could, if the story called for it.  The closest I’ve come is in my short story “Swamp Gas,” in which a man was dumped outside in an area full of nasty nerve gases and neurotoxins that made for a painful death.

D. T. Nova

I don’t know. It would be very difficult to write, in more ways than one.

Jean Davis

Oh yes. I’ve done a lot of character torture, physical and mental. The characters I like best seem to suffer the most. That probably says something about me that I’d rather not dwell on.

Eric Wood

Yep. Though it would be out of the genre I typically write in. A children’s book with torture wouldn’t be be too popular (or a children’s book?). I did write one piece involving some domestic violence in which a character was tortured. Though, in the story, the character’s torture wasn’t described, just implied. I have difficulty writing gruesome.

Paul B. Spence

Hmm. Have you ever read one of my books? As much as it pains me, my characters get tortured and mangled all the time. Since the stories deal with people fighting what are, for all practical purposes, extradimensional daemons, horror seems a natural part of my stories.

Allen Tiffany

Sadly it has happened. 😦

…and it will again.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Abso-freakin’-lutely. Call me a maniac if you will, but one of my favorite things to do is torture my characters. That’s part of why I love writing horror and creepy stuff; you get to just mercilessly screw with your characters around every turn.

And, okay, this is going to be hard to explain, but I love writing scenes that absolutely torture a character because I love writing emotional reactions and instinctual responses. You get the same kind of thing with a really intimate love scene, but I prefer the horrible stuff because I love writing about the sweat and the tears, the moments when the character snaps, the moments when the character digs deep to press on, the moments of abstract horror and disgust, the moments of adrenaline-fueled bravery. Torturing your characters brings out who they are. Are they a weak, pathetic waste of space, or are they the hero who will persevere no matter what happens? Torture the living hell out of them and you’ll find out.

H. Anthe Davis

Absolutely.  I’ve tortured many of them already — if not in body, then certainly in mind.  Nightmares are my joy.  I particularly like tormenting my leader-type characters by having horrible things happen to their subordinates; one or two instances of that and they begin neatly torturing themselves.  But then, I -am- writing what I would consider fantasy/horror, so it’s a necessity.  There’s some gore but I’ve always preferred the psychological angle.

Jay Dee Archer

Oh, definitely. I write science fiction, and have some fantasy stories to write. All of these contain some element of danger, death, and torture. If the story calls for it, I will torture a character or two or several. I will torture the main character, I will torture the innocent bystanders, I will torture the antagonist. No one is safe from torture.

I have read many books where main characters are tortured, both physically and mentally, and the effect is immediately apparent on me. I don’t like seeing it happen, but I can’t stop reading. I want them to break free and somehow get back at the torturer. Just look around at what’s popular on TV these days. Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead are filled with death and different ways to torture characters. For some reason, people love to watch it and suffer with their favourite characters.

So, yes, I will torture characters, but only when necessary.

How about you?

If you write, can you torture your characters? If you read, what is it about torture and death scenes that make you want to continue reading? Or does it turn you off of the story? Share your opinions in the comments below!

Gateway Novels

The first fantasy novel I read was The Hobbit. I loved it. The first science fiction novel I read was Jurassic Park, which I also really enjoyed.  I was already a sci-fi fan, though, having watched a lot of Star Trek and Transformers when I was a kid.

Those books got me interested, but I never really focused on reading novels much at that time. However, when I was in university, I started reading a couple of different series.  One was Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series and Terry Brooks’ Shannara series. Those are what really hooked me onto sci-fi and fantasy novels.

What books would you recommend as gateway novels into speculative fiction? Any suggestions for science fiction, fantasy, horror, dystopia, or post-apocalyptic novels? Let’s get a list going. Leave your suggestions in the comments, and invite your friends or anyone else to give their thoughts, too.

Book Review – Blood Skies

bloodskiesBlood Skies

Author: Steven Montano

Series: Blood Skies #1

Genre: Fantasy

Published 2011

Review Copy: Free eBook

Overall Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Goodreads Description

In the time after The Black, human survivors of the Southern Claw Alliance clash with vampire legions of the Ebon Cities in a constant war for survival. Earth as we know it has been forever damaged by an arcane storm that fused our world with distant realms of madness and terror. Things that once existed only in our nightmares stalk the earth.

Now, humanity is threatened by one of its own.

Eric Cross, an enlisted warlock in the Southern Claw military, is part of an elite team of soldiers and mages in pursuit of a woman known as Red — a witch whose stolen knowledge threatens the future of the human race. The members of Viper Squad will traverse haunted forests and blighted tundra in their search for the traitor, a journey that ultimately leads them to the necropolis of Koth.

There, in that haven of renegade undead, Cross will discover the dark origins of magic, and the true meaning of sacrifice…

Experience a dark and deadly new world in the debut novel of the “Blood Skies” series from author Steven Montano.


Blood Skies, the first novel in the Blood Skies series by Steven Montano, is an interesting take on the vampire genre, combining it with witches and warlocks, zombies, and a post-apocalyptic world.  At first, I was thinking this was going to be a typical vampire story, but it surprised me.  I wasn’t expecting it to be a quest style dark fantasy story.

Cross is a relatively inexperienced warlock in the Viper Squad, but he’s with his friend and fellow soldier Graves.  Graves is quite laid back, and it seems he’s the only one who acts like that.  Cross, and later, his sister Snow, are powerful magic users with different types of magic.  They are both a bit uptight, though.  Cristena comes along, and as she is another witch, she has her own set of impressive magic.  I found her to be a bit of a mystery at first, but later on, her character showed through very strongly.  But I didn’t like her at all.  I liked Cross, Graves, and Snow, though.  On the other side of the war are the vampires, though we only really get to know one of them.  And we also have Red, the main antagonist.  Even through the entire book, I still wonder about her motivations.  I feel that not everything was revealed in this book.

The plot is a rather straightforward quest to stop Red, basically.  It involved a lot of magic, guns, and lots of death.  Incredible amounts of death.  And I mean you shouldn’t get too attached to the characters because there’s a good chance he or she will die.  I enjoy the quest type of story, so this was a nice trip for me.  We get to see different lands, different combatants, and different dangers, but the constants are Cross and Graves.  However I found some of the deaths were a bit unnecessary.  There’s one battle in particular that seems completely unnecessary for the story at first, but I could see why it was important for the advancement of the story.  The story does come to a conclusion, but there are still some open threads that are most likely continued on in the following books.

The setting itself is richly described.  It had a dark atmosphere, and I felt like it must be cold and dreary there.  The world is a post-apocalyptic Earth somewhere in North America (an American city is mentioned, actually), but it’s been merged with another world filled with vampires, zombies, and other horrors.  Montano does a great job at describing the world, but I wanted to know more.  What about outside the Southern Claw?  What’s the rest of the world like?  Maybe we’ll find out later.

The magic system is very interesting.  Men and women are different, and their magic is also controlled differently.  Each mage has his or her own spirit that they are in constant contact with, and it’s as if they are an extension of themselves.  You’d have to read it to understand.

Overall, I found this to be a very interesting idea.  I wasn’t expecting much, as I’m not a fan of vampire stories, but I enjoyed it.  It was a dark fantasy with elements of vampires, zombies, and steampunk.  With an overall rating of 3 1/2 out of 5 stars, it’s a solid recommendation from me.  It’s fun to read.