Originally posted on L.S. Murphy:
My kind host has invited me to write on the above topic, so I thought I would open with a quick thought on how the ghost tale is defined. There has perhaps been a slight blurring of genre on the market place in recent years, with horror often being used as an umbrella term to cover haunted houses, vamp-lit etc, with publishers and authors having to add ‘tags’ to correctly identify their work. Yet the label ‘horror’ could be thought a little misleading: gore and torture are not necessarily prime elements in a ghost tale; and ghosts are not always to be found in horror stories.
Gothic literature encompasses a wide ‘multitude of sins’, and has left us an inheritance of works ranging from dark shadows, incest and murder to dry wit and satire, from The Monk to Northanger Abbey, from Frankenstein to Dracula and from T.L. Peacock to Edgar Allan Poe … these have informed some of the best writers of today and will continue to enthral readers tomorrow; horror and sensationalism have thrived in consequence. Vampires and phantoms, ghouls and ghosties have populated the genres, arm in arm, knitted together in ever wilder variations, conveniently labelled under the generic label of horror or gothic.
Yet a vampire doth not a phantom make, and likewise vice-versa. The steady increase in vamp-lit over recent years has left many either begging for more or begging for it to stop. Dracula can be termed paranormal. So can Turn of the Screw. Yet they contain very different entities, the one to all intents and purposes‘physical’, the other barely visible, perhaps solely the result of an over-active imagination.