According to Courtney Alameda, knowing her book is out in the world has a name, too: terror.
“I vacillate back and forth between sheer excitement and abject terror on a daily basis.”
Shutter is a “ghastly, gritty, gory” novel about Micheline Helsing, a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum — in other words, a tetrachromat. With the help of an analog SLR camera, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. But a powerful soulchain curse infects Micheline and her crew, putting all their lives in jeopardy.
“For Shutter, I saw this tiny girl battling a massive, ultraviolet-colored ghost with a Nikon camera . . . and the world just built itself up from there!”
One inspiration for Micheline’s camera-and-film weaponry came from “ghost-hunting shows that ‘capture’ spiritual imagery on film.” Then there was the belief that having your picture taken can steal your soul, as seen in aspects of American Indian, African, and Japanese cultures. Another was a video game Alameda played decades ago called Fatal Frame.
“[I] recalled loving it, despite the fact the camera worked magically, rather than being explained in terms of the world’s own unique mythology.”
Video games have always been a part of Alameda’s love of horror, ever since playing Resident Evil as a child.
“I played almost every installment in the series, and I feel that Shutter is very much inspired by the games in terms of plot structure and the ‘boss-style’ battles between Micheline and the ghost in the novel,” said Alameda.
The 2015 debut YA author also loves reading horror novels. “A lot of literary godparents” and horror authors like Stephen King, Michael Crichton and Anne Rice inspired her. One of Alameda’s first favorite horror novels was Dracula, so it came as no surprise to her when her main character’s last name turned out to be Helsing.
“[I write horror] for several reasons, but mostly because I find the struggle between good and evil compelling — who doesn’t? — as well as what that struggle teaches us about overcoming our own personal demons.”
And Shutter has plenty of demons to go around. Alameda prefers supernatural killers, like the necros in her novel, over masked killers. “They provide a wider range of murderous options for a storyteller to work with!”
Wondering how can teens relate to a horror novel, especially one with supernatural elements? Alameda believes horror novels teach teens about survival.
“I think helping teens to understand life’s horrors are survivable — even if survival requires garnering a few battle scars — is important. After all, that’s what Stephen King’s work taught me as a teen.”