Horror and romance

Horror and romance—can they ever overlap? From Gothics to paranormal romance, all signs point to “yes.” Author Aaron Bennett explains how both genres work to create heightened emotional states in readers, and what it’s like to write both sorts of stories.


How did you start writing romance and horror?

I write horror under Jean-Loup Benet, J.L. Benet, and I write romance under Erin Marcotte. My mom’s Quebecois, French Canadian. Jean-whatever, is kind of a family… there’s lots of Jean-Claude, Jean-Philippe, Jean-Loup—Loup is wolf. So the horror. Marcotte’s my mom’s maiden name, so, I just, use the female “Aaron” and my mom’s maiden name.

Both of my parents are educators, teachers. So we had books in the house all the time. I was actually deaf for the first three years of my life, so I think that tied into my love for reading. So I would lose myself in reading. Small, little town in northern Michigan, small library, but I read almost everything they had, so, very voracious reader. I read a lot of science fiction, Asimov, a lot of horror, uh, John Bellairs, going into Stephen King.

How is writing romance different?

Personally I find the romance is actually more difficult for me to write—horror you can kill off the main character if you want, can’t do that in romance. There’s a lot of the love interest plotline, and the—I write paranormal, so there’s always lots of werewolves and whatnot, so that plotline, and tying them all together so you’re not focusing too much on one and not the other. I love the way writing makes me feel. It’s why I was drawn to horror, because it evokes this emotional response—that chill down your spine, and whatnot—and it’s closely tied to romance, you’re evoking that emotion. It’s the opposite end of the spectrum, but I liked that, the pulling on the heartstrings. Sometimes it’s nice to deal with the nicer side of life where they can have a happily ever after. These two people don’t get torn to shreds. So, it provides a nice dichotomy.

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