Guest Post: Laughing At the End of the World by Lana Cooper

This week is the ceremonial launch of Enter the Apocalypse, the latest anthology I’ve contributed to. As part of the festivities, we the authors are guest posting on each others’ blogs. So today’s post will be brought to you by:

Lana Cooper
Lana Cooper doesn’t usually talk about herself in the third person, but makes an exception when writing an author bio. In 2014, she published her first novel, Bad Taste In Men. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies. A member of the Horror Writers Association, Cooper is currently working on her second novel.

Be sure to check out the launch party, happening next Thursday (April 20) on Facebook:

“Hey! What about War? Maybe give her a reality dating show and call it ‘The Bloody Bachelorette’ with fifteen men vying for her affections and she gets to slaughter them all.”

LAUGHING AT THE END OF THE WORLD

Nothing sucks the joy out of something quite like “going corporate.” That also includes the end of the world. Imagine looking forward to something for thousands of years. Everything you’ve done to this point has been building to this moment. In this case, that something is the apocalypse. The promise of stock options, licensing, and the potential to make more money sure is tempting. But when you get down to it, going corporate blows because, ultimately, you have to answer to somebody else – whether it’s your boss, stockholders, or something much, much worse.

That’s the conundrum the loveable triad of War, Pestilence, and Famine run into in my story, “Death, Inc.”, my humble contribution to the Enter the Apocalypse anthology. These three ancient, anthropomorphic entities find themselves going up against more than what they bargained for, kickstarting the apocalypse with all manner of plagues – including reality television shows.

The Story Behind the Story: Finding the Humor in Horror

I’ve always been a big fan of finding the humor in inappropriate situations: company meetings, disappointing relationships (or lack thereof), funerals. Lord knows, I’ve sat through more than my share of all three. Yet, there is no more inappropriate (or appropriate, depending on how you look at it) time to laugh than during the end of the world. What makes horror, well… horrifying is that it embodies a feeling of powerlessness against the unknown. Even the most powerful among us are not immune to frightening circumstances beyond their control.

While the horror genre puts a face to our fears and forces us to confront what most terrifies us, adding humor to the genre makes us face our fears and laugh at them. Even the most dire circumstances feel far less intimidating if you’re able to pick them apart, removing the fangs and claws and replacing them with jokes and wisecracks. It humanizes what would otherwise paralyze us with fear. And if you humanize something, it makes it a whole lot easier to defeat it.

Need further proof of humor as the most effective weapon against the dark? Look at the character metamorphosis of Ash Williams between Evil Dead and Army of Darkness. Did Ash crap himself when he lost his hand? Hell no! He nutted up and strapped a chainsaw to that stump and took all those Deadites to task. Ludicrous? Absolutely! Effective? Yer darn tootin’!

Circling It Back to the Three Horsemen

So, how do you make the inhuman more human? In this case, it’s getting to know the Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Hopefully, by the end of the story, you come to better understand what makes them tick. Incidentally, two of the three horsemen are actually horsewomen (War and Pestilence), but even the best re-branding team can’t always make a gender-neutral term stick when you’ve had thousands of years of press touting you as otherwise.)

That said, the trio are a close-knit bunch, although they’re not without their own sibling rivalries that have bubbled beneath the surface for thousands of years. Yet, as is the case with most close families, those rivalries stem from more misunderstanding than malice. And like every family, each sibling has different motivators although they share a common goal.

Although the Horsemen seem to be the villains of the piece at the outset, as is the case in horror, things aren’t always what they seem. And even the “monsters” aren’t immune to feeling powerless from time to time. Whether they learn to find the humor in the dark remains to be seen. The same can be said for all of us.