Now, I happen to think clowns can be scary looking--not always, but very often. I think one person is responsible for that. The serial killer, John Wayne Gacy. He dressed as a clown to entertain children in hospitals. Now, I don't know if he realized just how evil he looked in the clown makeup, but he looked pretty scary to me!
Eventually, he was executed for having murdered thirty young men. I never forgot him or the case.
If he isn't solely responsible for generating fear of clowns (among some of us), he's partially responsible. They scare us. We don't know what they're like under that clown makeup.
The novel I evenutally wrote was a bit of a departure for me. My longer fiction tends to be Gothic vampires, lusty--sexy and well, vampires just being vampires!
My shorter fiction is different. Two years ago I wrote a short story which is included in my Carole Gill's House of Horrors collection. It was about a circus.
I liked the premise so much that over time, the characters began growing in my head. I mean they were being slowly developed without me doing anything. When that happens, writers know they have a novel.
When the characters were forming in my imagination I saw different sorts of men as these clowns. I didn't see serial killers like Gacy. I saw damaged human beings who kill and cannibalize what they kill. They are so messed up and warped, it is the only way they can 'get back at the world.'
Still, they are sensitive and surprisingly caring sometimes. There are three of them in this novel. Each was horrifically abused as children. Their faces are badly scarred. They cover those scars with clown makeup. And really, clown makeup is a mask. Who knows what's under the mask? Anything could be.
My poor clowns are warped and insane and they know it. They are part of a travelling circus that has seen better days. Each character has secrets but no one has a more surprising secret than the owner's son. He no longer remembers what it is, age took its toll. His son knows and has killed because of it.
A man shows up one night--a stranger who wants to help them. He does. He wins them over. Things are going to change he promises, they surely do.
I don't think horror should be without purpose. All of the elements of horror should be there like gore. Gore can embellish a story but it should never be the story.
I also think that cruelty and abuse, especially meted out to children can produce damaged adults. And if evil is drawn to evil like a magnet and happens to become part of a circus--well, it's going to be a hell of a show, literally.
Succubus and demons are there, but they're present mainly to seduce and beguile.
No animals are present, by the way! This is a different sort of circus remember, the 'animals' were conjured. They're not real. Only the horror and damnation is.