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Friday, February 10, 2012

Trends in Horror Series

I was invited to speak on a panel at the Pubic Library Association Conference this March.  The topic is "Trends in Genre Series," and I am happy that horror is going to be included along with Romance, Gentle Reads, and Mystery.

So in preparation, I started making a list of the newest trends in horror series offerings.  Here are the three I am going to concentrate on:

  • Just the fact that series are becoming a staple in horror is a trend on its own.  Horror rarely had long running series before the 21st century.  More often we saw trilogies, a stray sequel here and there, or a newer writer taking a classic and writing a sequel or prequel years later.  But just like all fiction these days, series are becoming the norm.  Readers like entering a world populated with characters the already know they will like.  With so many reading options, series are a way for readers to focus on a group of books they can count on.  Publishers and authors have learned this and they are cranking out the series offerings in every genre.
  • While there are physically more series, some of the best horror writing in general, series or not, is happening in the format of the graphic novel.  This has a bit to do with the fact that horror lends itself nicely to the visual form; you can say a lot with pictures in horror.  However, it is not only the fact that these works are illustrated that makes them better.  I have been finding that the most interesting characters and the richest story lines are coming out in the comic format.  I am not alone in this opinion.  Take for example the most recent Eisner Awards for the entire comics industry and click here to see that Joe Hill won for best overall writer of any comic, for his horror series, Locke and Key.  In my opinion, there really isn't a better horror series, in any format, right now than Locke and Key.
  • A larger trend in all fiction is how some traditional horror elements are creeping into other genres.  Specifically, the supernatural thriller is big these days.  There are now many series that are just past the physical boundary line of traditional horror, and they are gaining popularity and readers all of the time.  These "not quite horror," series are frightening, fast paced, and hitting The New York Times Bestseller List with regularity.  Finally, in a link to the trend above, these "not quite horror" series are also starting to shine in graphic novels.
So as you can see, the current trends in horror series is like on big circle, where each trend appears to be feeding off of the others.  I don't know what the future holds, but for now, it is a great time to be a fan of horror.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting some more of my thoughts and lists that I will be including in the actual talk.  There will be many examples of these trends with a lot more detail.  However,  I only get 15 minutes to speak my piece, so I will cram more info into my handouts which I will be posting here along with the handouts for my co-panelists.

One author, who is figuring to be a major player in the talk (as he also is in the new book) is Jonathan Maberry.  I recently finished his latest book, Dead of Night.  Maberry has also signed up to visit RA for All on his "Shambling Zombie Blog Tour."  So early March will also bring an interview with him and a review of his latest book.

But what about you? If you have a current trend in horror as it pertains to series books, leave a comment and share it with me.  It might make it into my talk.

1 comment:

  1. While it doesn't have to do with series,exactly, one trend I am seeing a lot of is short fiction, both in single author collections, anthologies with a variety of authors writing around a theme, and novellas. Some of these are high quality, expensive limited editions, but I think there will be more novellas and short fiction collections out there, with the ease of publishing ebooks.