Summer Scares 2019 Resources

Click here to immediately access the Summer Scares FAQ and Resource page so that you can add some professionally vetted horror titles into your reading suggestions and fiction collections for all age levels.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Most Anticipated Horror 2019

Every year over on Lit Reactor, Max Booth III has his 15 Most Anticipated Horror Books for the coming year. Here is the 2019 post.

If you go back and look at past year's lists, he is very accurate as to what will be among the top titles.

So library workers take note of this list and get a head start on your horror reading. Pick one or two that look interesting to you and get them in your TBR. Request an e-galley or just order them for your library [or suggest to those who do that they order them] and then place a hold so when it comes in, you get a copy.

I know many of you don't read a lot of horror on your own, but you should at least sample a few a year. This list is an easy way to identify some sure to be talked about titles, making it a great place to start.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Becky Favorite Horror Published in 2018

Today was the end of the 10 days #LibFaves18 countdown on Twitter where library workers listed their top 10 books published in 2018. As I have done in years past, I used the countdown to put a spotlight on #HorrorForLibraries [a hash tag I have created and used often]. So my tweets had both hashtags.

Every single book that gets mentioned in the 10 day #LibFaves18 Tweet fest is put into a spreadsheet that is accessible to all. The titles are then put in order based on the number of votes each gets to make an overall Top 10, but even titles with only 1 mention make it open the overall list of library favorites.

In order to help shine a spotlight on horror, I am doing my part to make sure at least 10 horror titles end up on this annual "best" list. If I don't make this effort, there would be maybe one horror titles total on the spreadsheet, and some years none without me.

That means I do not put out my main "best" list on Twitter, but I am fine with that.  Horror needs me during this 10 period, and I have plenty of readers over on the main blog who will see my overall "best" list [which will be going live next week because I wait until the last possible day of the year to publish it every year].

Below is my top 10 #HorrorForLibraries as I counted it down on Twitter with a few addition and my honorable mentions.  Every title has my three words and then links to the longer review by me.

Finally you can find this year's list and my favorite horror title going back to 2005 on the blog on my Becky's Original Lists, Articles and Publications page because even older great horror picks are still a great "best" option.

Now here are the books!

Honorable Mentions:

First I want to mention the three books that just missed my #LibFaves18 Top Ten:

  • Husk by Dave Zeltserman-- unreliable narrator, thought provoking, anxiety. I loved this book, but in the end since it was a little less straight up horror and more psychological suspense and I wanted to spotlight more pure horror.
  • Widow's Point by Richard and Billy Chizmar-- cursed place, found footage, intense. This book is fantastic but it is a novella. I made the choice to not put novella's on the overall list this year in order to focus on novels. 
  • The Listener by Robert McCammon-- intricate plot, class/race issues, character centered. This one came down to the final spot and ultimately I picked my #10 book over this one because of its overall importance to the genre.

And then there is my final honorable mention which actually was one of the top 5 horror stories I read this year, it is just that it is not available through libraries so I could not possibly include it in a #HorrorForLIbraries list-- Silverwood: The Door presented by Serial Box. It is a serialized story that is very close to PERFECT, but you have to buy it for yourself. It is written by Brian Keene, Stephen Kozeniewski, The Sisters of Slaughter, and Richard Chizmar. Click here for the details on the story and Serial Box. You can read the chapters in electronic form or listen to them as an audiobook. I have done both and loved it.

Becky's Countdown of her Top 10 Horror from 2018:

10. Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker: epistolary, methodically paced, menacing. This official Dracula prequel was so much better than it needed to be. True to the original with modern touches.

9. The Siren and the Specter by Jonathan Janz: haunted house, repulsion, unrelenting terror. Janz is an author whose books every library should own. His backlist is being re-released by Flame Tree Press in perfect for libraries paperbacks that will be easily available through your normal ordering channels.

8. The Hunger by Alma Katsu: anxiety, multiple points of view, riveting. Historical fiction-horror hybrid. Perfect for fans of either.

7. The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste: unsettlingly beautiful, two time frames, atmospheric. The best horror bed I read all year.

6. Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman: magical, sinister, intricately plotted. A weird western retelling of Sleeping Beauty where she saves herself. [I read in 2017 but it came out in 2018]

5. Officially on the #LibFaves18 Countdown I listed Clickers Forever: A Tribute to J.F. Gonzales edited by Brian Keene: heartwarming, educational, and just plan fun. It is a beautiful tribute to the man, his work, and his legacy. Also, that cover! It is perfect for library displays.

...but, that is an anthology and 100% horror based. There is also a single author collection that needs to be on this list. Since it was not 100% horror and encompasses all of the speculative genres, I left it off the countdown but need to include it here as...

5a. The People's Republic of Everything by Nick Mamatas: genre blend, thought provoking, unsettling. What makes this collection rise to the top, however, are the author notes which Mamatas includes for each story. They reveal the history behind the business of speculative fiction as well as offer a peek into his own life and personal evolution. Taken together, those notes create what read like a 16th bonus story.

4. We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix: pulp, satire,. terrifyingly realistic. A great female heroine who rocks and kicks ass.

3. Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias: raw, honest, and beautifully written horror on the southern border. It will make you uncomfortable in every way and you cannot, will not, and should not look away.

2. Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi: haunting, darkly humorous, compelling. Part fable, part homage to a classic, and part cautionary tale. It's a moving story about life in a war zone.

1. Cabin At the End of the World by Paul Tremblay: family-centered, thought provoking, menacing. Is it real of supernatural? You decide. But warning, this book will break you.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

31 Days of Horror 2018: Recap

Thanks for joining me this year.  Remember, you can pull up every post from this annual series, in reverse chronological order [over 250 posts in total], by using the 31 Days of Horror tag at any time.

I also have each year linked on my Features Archive page for even easier access.

Finally, on 10/30, I presented the most recent version of my webinar-- Thrills and Chills @ Your Library: How to Help Your Scariest Patrons-- for the State Library of Missouri.

You can click here to sign up even if you missed it because they recorded it.

You can click here for access to the live slides with links.

These slides will also be linked on the horror blog on this page as long as they are the most up to date. I replace that link every time I update the presentation.

I generally update this presentation once or twice a year, but even just accessing the slides is like reading the Cliffs Notes version of 31 Days of Horror; it's all the most pressing Horror RA information with links for more depth if you need it.

Thanks for joining me on the month long journey. I hope I helped you to help a horror reader.

Click here for slide access

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 31 A Holiday Reading List for Libraries by Lisa Morton

Happy Halloween! We made it. See and you didn't get too scared this month.

This year I have asked Lisa Morton, international Halloween expert, author, and the current President of the HWA back to the blog to help us celebrate [click here for her past appearances].

She wanted to share with you six Halloween titles that she feels are perfect for public library collections. She made sure they were in paperback [to save us money] and in print. She also included the link for you to order them directly from the publisher. Thanks to Lisa and HAPPY HALLOWEEN to you all.

I will be back tomorrow with a 31 Days wrap up post, but remember, just because Halloween is today that doesn't mean you cannot suggest great scary reads all year long.

☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠

Six Halloween Books Every Library Should Have 
By Lisa Morton 

As a Halloween expert, I’ve been known to refer to my favorite day of the year as “the most misunderstood holiday.” I encounter a lot of misconceptions about the holiday, everything from the notion that it’s based on a day when ancient Celts worshipped a Lord of Death (it’s not), to “trick or treat is centuries old” (again – it’s not), to concerns that anonymous psychos tampering with candy is a real problem every year (surprise answer: it’s not). 

Fortunately, over the last twenty years a number of excellent books about Halloween have been published, so I consider it my civic duty to let librarians know that they can assist in countering these mistaken notions of Halloween by putting these titles on their shelves. 
Plus, they’re all really fun books that patrons will enjoy, and will likely want to check out even when it’s not October. 

Here are six that are still in print as trade paperbacks and are all worthwhile additions to any collection: 

A Halloween Reader: Poems, Stories, and Plays from Halloweens Past, edited by Lesley Pratt 

Bannatyne, published by Pelican Publishing. Bannatyne is one of the world’s leading authorities on the holiday, so you know this anthology of stories, poems, and articles was chosen with knowledge and care. The book includes classic works (Robert Burns’s poem “Hallowe’en”), pieces by great authors (James Joyce, Edith Wharton, Edgar Allan Poe), and lesser-known but equally wonderful entries. It works as either a reference volume or just an enjoyable, casual reader. Younger readers will find plenty to scarf down here, too. 

The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories, edited by Stephen Jones, published by Skyhorse Publishing. 

Halloween fiction has become immensely popular over the last twenty years, and there are a number of fine anthologies out there. This one, just released two months ago, packs twenty-six stories into nearly 500 pages, so every reader is sure to find new seasonal favorites in this “mammoth book.” Authors include such genre luminaries as Ramsey Campbell, Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, Nancy Kilpatrick, and many more. Be aware that these stories are not intended for very young readers. 

Drawn to the Dark: Explorations in Scare Tourism Around the World, by Chris Kullstroem, published by Pelican Publishing.

This is the only title on this list that’s not 100% about Halloween (although it has a wonderful chapter on playing a monster in a Halloween haunted attraction), but I’m recommending it because it offers a compelling examination of similar festivals and attractions around the world and makes us realize why the things we love about Halloween are universal. Don’t be surprised if you want to book some airline tickets after reading this!

The Halloween Encyclopedia (2nd edition), by Lisa Morton, published by McFarland and Co., Inc. 

Although this book is really intended for either academics or serious Halloweenaholics, it’s also illustrated throughout and written in an accessible style that makes for fun, enlightening browsing. 

Halloween and Other Festivals of Life and Death, edited by Jack Santino, published by the University of Tennessee Press. This is the one truly academic title on this list, but the papers assembled here have made it the classic for Halloween scholars. Santino is a folklorist who is without peer in the field of serious Halloween studies, plus the selections offer up some wonderful takes on Halloween (like the importance of noisemakers in the past) that you won’t find elsewhere. 

Halloween: The History of America’s Darkest Holiday, by David J. Skal, published by Dover Publications. Originally released under the title Death Makes a Holiday, this is an entertaining pop culture history by the always-reliable Skal. Dover has reprinted it in an affordable paperback with a kickin’ new cover. 

Happy Halloween, everyone! 
---------------------------------------------

BIO: Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, and award-winning prose writer whose work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening”. She is the author of four novels and more than 130 short stories, a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, and a world-class Halloween expert. She co-edited (with Ellen Datlow) the anthology Haunted Nights; other recent releases include Ghosts: A Haunted History and the collection The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats. Forthcoming in 2019 is an anthology of classic ghost stories, co-edited with Leslie Klinger, and short fiction in books including Odd Partners, edited by Anne Perry. Lisa lives in Los Angeles and online at http://www.lisamorton.com .

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 30- A Horror Based Reading Program For Every Library

Today I have a HUGE announcement about a program that Grady Hendrix, JG Faherty, and I dreamed up at StokerCon last year. It is called Summer Scares and the HWA is partnering with Library Journal/School Library Journal, United for Libraries, and Book Riot to encourage everyone to read some horror this summer.

Read the press release below, but the gist is a panel of experts [listed below] will be creating a recommended reading list of nine titles, spread across all reading levels. Titles will be announced in February and the authors will be available for in person and virtual appearances at public and school libraries.

The committee will also be providing annotated lists of horror titles that are appropriate for each reading level [middle grade, young adult, adult] that you can use at your libraries to help encourage some scary reading.

We are very excited to share this with everyone. Today is just the beginning.

Below is our official press release which you will also see being released by our partners as the day goes on.

Horror Writers Association Announces Summer Scares Reading Program 




The Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Library Journal/School Library Journal, is developing a reading program that will provide libraries and schools with an annual list of recommended horror titles for adult, young adult (teen), and middle grade readers. The goal is to introduce new authors and help librarians start conversations with readers that will extend beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come. 


Award-winning author, Grady Hendrix and a committee of four librarians will be selecting three recommended fiction titles in each of three reading levels— Middle Grade, Teen, and Adult— for a total of nine Summer Scares selections. The goal of the program is to encourage a national conversation about the entire horror genre, across all age levels, at libraries all over the country and ultimately get more adults, teens, and children interested in reading. Official Summer Scares designated authors will also be making themselves available to appear, either virtually or in person, at public and school libraries all over the country, for free. 


“Horror is one of those genres that is incredibly popular,” Grady Hendrix says. “But people look at you funny when you say you like reading horror. We want to use this opportunity to showcase the best of what’s out there today. These stories won’t just scare readers, but they’ll make them laugh, make them cry, and make them cringe. There’s more to horror than just saying ‘boo’.” 


The committee’s final selections will be announced on February 14, 2019— National Library Lover’s Day. Some or all of the authors of those titles will appear on a panel to kick off Summer Scares at Librarian’s Day during StokerCon 2019 May 10, 2019 in Grand Rapids, MI. 


Between the announcement of the titles and the kick off event, the committee and its partners will be publishing lists of even more suggested titles for further horror reading, content by committee members about the genre, and interviews with the selected authors. Official Summer Scares podcasting partner, Ladies of the Fright Podcast, will also be recording episodes in conjunction with Summer Scares. 


The HWA is a nonprofit organization of writers and publishing professionals with members located around the world, dedicated to promoting dark literature and the interests of those who write it and read it. It is the oldest and most respected professional organization for the much-loved writers who have brought you the most enjoyable sleepless nights of your life. One of HWA’s missions is to encourage public interest in, and foster an appreciation of, Horror and Dark Fiction literature, through extensive programming and partnerships with library and literacy-based organizations. The Summer Scares reading program is one example of this. 


Look for more information coming soon in Library Journal, School Library Journal, and Book Riot, as well as from United for Libraries and at the HWA’s website: www.horror.org. 


For more information, contact JG Faherty, HWA Library Committee Chair (libraries@horror.org) or 
Becky Spratford, HWA Secretary (bspratford@hotmail.com) 


Summer Scares Committee Members


Grady Hendrix is a best selling author whose novels include Horrorstör, My Best Friend's Exorcism – which he describes as "basically Beaches meets The Exorcist" — and most recently, We Sold Our Souls. He's also the author of the Bram Stoker Award winning, Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the horror paperback boom of the '70s and '80s, and Mohawk, a horror movie about the War of 1812.


Becky Spratford is a library consultant and the author of, most recently, The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, second edition. She reviews horror for Booklist Magazine and runs the Readers’ Advisory Horror blog, RA for All: Horror. Becky is also a Library Trustee member of United for Libraries and is currently serving as Secretary for the Horror Writers’ Association. 


Carolyn Ciesla is a library director and academic dean at Prairie State College in the Chicago suburbs. She has worked as a teen librarian and reference librarian, and reviews horror titles for Booklist Magazine. She’s currently enjoying providing all of the scary books to her teen daughter, and revisiting a few along the way. 


Kiera Parrott is the reviews director for Library Journal and School Library Journal, where she oversees the review of more than 14,000 titles annually. Before joining the Journals, Kiera was head of children’s services at Darien Library (CT), and began her career as a librarian at the New York Public Library. Kiera is a lifelong horror fan and loves nothing more than curling up with a blood-curdling read on a rainy day. You can find her on Twitter @libraryvoice. 


Kelly Jensen is a former librarian who works as an Editor for Book Riot (bookriot.com), where she runs the weekly "What's Up in YA?" young adult newsletter, the biweekly "Check Your Shelf" newsletter for librarians, and cohosts the "Hey YA" podcast about young adult literature Her books include (Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health and Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, both from Algonquin Young Readers. She's also a well-known and long-time co-blogger at STACKED (stackedbooks.org). A life-long lover of all things scary, she finds herself eager to scream about horror reads for teens with those who love good thrills and chills.

Monday, October 29, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 29 Paperback From Hell by Valancourt Are Tailor Made For Libraries

With the current resurgence in the popularity of horror in mainstream media, there is also a concurrent rise in interest in retro horror fiction. Forbes wrote about the phenomenon last month here.

That article quotes Grady Hendrix whose Paperbacks From Hell was one of my favorites reads of 2017 and it won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Nonfiction [I got to present the award to Grady on stage].

Now Valancourt Books [a publisher who specialize in the rediscovery of rare, neglected, and out of print fiction] is working with Grady and Will Errickson to reprint some of the very best of those classic horror titles. And here is the great thing for us, they will not only be easily available for libraries through our normal purchasing channels, but you can also get them ALL on Overdrive as ebooks too-- for only $16 print and $8 ebook!

While the line doesn't get going until Spring 2019, you can explore the links in this post for more information because you are going to want to order these. It's a line that is tailored made for libraries. The titles will be curated by experts, the covers will be gorgeous for displays, and the price is point is fantastic.

Grady and Will will also be appearing on my small press panel at StokerCon Librarian's Day to discuss the line and buzz the titles for you. But first, I asked Valancourt Books for an official statement on the line:

Valancourt Books, an independent publisher specializing in the rediscovery of neglected and out-of-print fiction, is teaming up with Quirk Books, publisher of Grady Hendrix's bestselling history of paperback horror, PAPERBACKS FROM HELL, to release a limited series of long-unavailable '70s and '80s horror novels featured in the book.  The series, which will be curated by Hendrix and Will Errickson, author of the popular TOO MUCH HORROR FICTION blog, with introductions by them, will feature at least five highly sought-after horror titles, of which the first four have been announced.
Elizabeth Engstrom's WHEN DARKNESS LOVES US (1985), much praised by Theodore Sturgeon and others when first published, is the chilling story of a woman trapped in a labyrinth of subterranean caverns in pitch darkness.  Bari Wood's THE TRIBE (1981), a bestseller in its day, tells of a series of brutal killings in modern New York that may be connected with strange and supernatural happenings in a Nazi death camp decades earlier.  Gregory A. Douglas's terrifying THE NEST (1980) features an army of mutant, man-eating cockroaches.  And Thomas Page's THE SPIRIT (1977) is a page-turner featuring Bigfoot.  Other titles in the series are expected to be announced soon.

Publication date for the series will be in Spring 2019.  All books in the series will be available in trade paperback and ebook formats, priced around $16 for the paperbacks and around $8 for the ebooks.  The paperbacks will be available for order direct from the publisher, or via Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and other suppliers; ebooks will be available for purchase by libraries via Overdrive.
Thank you to Valancourt for not only working with Grady and Will to bring these excellent titles back in print, but to do it in a way that makes them easily available to libraries. Library workers, let's show our appreciation by making sure we order the books from this line for our patrons as soon as they are available.

And, if you can join me and Grady and Will at StokerCon in May, you can hear all about the titles form the curators of the line themselves.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 28- Review of Mary SanGiovanni's Kathy Ryan Series

Today I want to tell you all about a series that isn't in enough libraries even though it is easily available through a major publisher [Kensington] and is a great sure bet for a wide range of readers- Mary SanGiovanni's Kathy Ryan series.

I have written about SanGiovanni before here, including the first book in this series, Chills which introduced occult specialist Kathy Ryan.

What I love about this series is that it is a little bit psychological suspense, has just enough Lovecraftian tropes to satisfy fans without alienating novices, and Kathy Ryan is a great, layered, and intriguing lead.

The second book in the series, Behind the Door came out recently. Here is the summary from Goodreads:
Occult specialist Kathy Ryan returns in this thrilling novel of paranormal horror from Mary SanGiovanni, the author of 
Some doors should never be opened . . . 
In the rural town of Zarepath, deep in the woods on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, stands the Door. No one knows where it came from, and no one knows where it leads. For generations, folks have come to the Door seeking solace or forgiveness. They deliver a handwritten letter asking for some emotional burden to be lifted, sealed with a mixture of wax and their own blood, and slide it beneath the Door. Three days later, their wish is answered for better or worse. 
Kari is a single mother, grieving over the suicide of her teenage daughter. She made a terrible mistake, asking the powers beyond the Door to erase the memories of her lost child. And when she opened the Door to retrieve her letter, she unleashed every sin, secret, and spirit ever trapped on the other side. 
Now, it falls to occultist Kathy Ryan to seal the door before Zarepath becomes hell on earth . . .
And the third book is coming next fall.

These are very tense, chilling, and compelling suspense novels, but they are also firmly rooted in cosmic horror. It all adds up to an original option amidst the deluge of domestic suspense and female driven psychological suspense-- you know, the "girl" books-- that are out now. It seems we all have patrons who cannot get enough of these books. ] Kathy Ryan is a great choice for readers who don't mind supernatural, and especially if they like Sarah Pinborough.

SanGiovanni's plots will be more sophisticated and original than the average "girl" book, with deeper characterization and twists that surprise and scare-- for real because the well built cosmic horror frame is terrifying.

Look for SanGiovanni's series from Kensington from B&T or Ingram and add the first 2 books to your latest cart. You readers will thank me.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 27- Stephen King Readalikes for Scaredy-Cats

Last week, Get Booked [the book recommendation podcast from Book Riot] dedicated an entire episode to matching specific Stephen King titles to less scary readalikes.

Click here for the page with the titles they recommended, but you have to listen [easily done on that page also] to hear which books get matched to which King title.

I made sure to listen to the entire episode and I think they did a very good job.

I am a big fan of listening to Get Booked every week for a few reasons:

  • It gives us extra practice by giving us access to actual RA questions. They are varied, interesting, and at times, highly specific. In other words, they are just like the questions we get at the desk, but its a whole lot more of them then we encounter in the course of our busy days.
  • You can listen for the questions and then hit pause and go find an answer for yourself. It is a great practice or training exercise for staff.
  • You can also learn about new titles you would never know about by listening to the hosts book talk their suggestions. I have 100% suggested a book to a reader based solely off of Amanda or Jen's book talk during the episode. They allow me to know about a whole lot more titles than I could ever read on my own.
  • When they give their recs they focus on the appeal not the plot, just as we do too.
  • You can access all of their questions and the recommendations on the podcast's home page too, in text.
I think this specific episode of Stephen King Readalikes for Scaredy Cats will be perfect for you to use as you help readers all year long, since many people say to us all of the time, "Well I don't like horror but my favorite author is Stephen King."

You know you've heard that more than once.

Finally, you can also see this episode from 2015 when I was a guest host of Get Booked and Amanda and I handled specific horror questions. Those are definitely not for scaredy cats though.

Friday, October 26, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 26- Reviews of Horror from all Over the World

One of the biggest trends in horror [and in all fiction really] is the increase in American publications of horror from all over the world. Because horror is an emotions based genre [it's all about scaring you], it is a type of literature that appears in every culture, and there is much for American audiences to enjoy from a broader look at the genre.

A few months ago, small press, Dark Moon Books released an excellent collection, entitled A World of Horror, featuring horror stories by authors from all over the world. It got a star review in Publisher Weekly and I also gave editor Eric Guignard this blurb [as seen on the Goodreads page]:
“This is the book we need right now! Fresh voices from all over the world, bringing American audiences new ways to feel the fear. Horror is a universal genre and for too long we have only experienced one western version of it. No more. Get ready to experience a whole new world of terror.” 
—Becky Spratford; librarian, reviewer, RA for All: Horror
This is a perfect collection for libraries to begin offering a wider range of horror from new perspectives. You can click through to see the authors included, where they are from, and what their stories are about. I can tell you though, there wasn't a bad story in the bunch.

Over the course of the year I also read two AMAZING horror novels in translation and both could be enjoyed by literary fiction fans as well. They have racked up multiple nominations and awards in a wide variety of categories from genre based to general fiction prizes.

Below, please find the links to my Goodreads review for more information including detailed appeal statements and many readalike options.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 25-- Reviews: Hunger by Katsu, Destroyer by LaValle, and Husk by Zeltersman

As October is coming to a close, I have purposely left the posting my personal reviews of books I have read in my own time [not for assigned reviews] over the last year until now.

Why?

Well, throughout the year I already have at least a book a month to suggest for you via Booklist Magazine. Plus, media outlets that don't normally talk about horror spend a lot of time doing it every October, including lots of reading recs. I like to use my blog-a-thon to promote other resources and ideas, things no one else has the time to talk about. I also try to focus on educating you on why people love horror; something no other resource does.

Now is the perfect time for me to give you a few days in a row of reviews, reviews of titles that are perfect for ALL library collections. Titles that you can suggest to a wide range of patrons. And, while each title in the next 3 days of posts is not a great read for every reader, I would argue that between the 6 titles I will cover over the next 3 days, you could find at least one option for just about every type of reader. Seriously, I am not kidding.

Many of these titles you own already. They are probably lurking on your shelves. Others, are easily snagged through the normal sources [B&T, Ingram].

Today we are going to get started with three titles that are all character centered titles with plenty of atmosphere and anxiety, but not too much gore. In fact, each could be classified as horror and another genre. But you will see when you read the reviews. Basic info and links to Goodreads reviews which have much more detail on appeal and lots of readalikes are below.


  • The Hunger by Alma Katsu [anxiety, multiple povs, riveting]
    • Genre Besides Horror: Historical Fiction
  • Destroyer by Victor LaValle [reimagining a classic, revenge, monsters- real and supernatural]
    • Genre Besides Horror: Literary Fiction
    • Format: Graphic Novel
  • Husk by Dave Zeltserman [unreliable narrator, thought provoking, anxiety]
    • Genre Besides Horror: Psychological Suspense [think if Paul Tremblay wrote Dexter-- use the link for more details]



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

31 Days fo Horror: Day 24 The Not Scary H-Word Column About Horror in Nightmare Magazine


Since its start in October of 2012, Nightmare Magazine  has run a monthly nonfiction column about Horror called "The H Word."

From that first column:
Welcome to the first installment of “The H Word,” our monthly dissection of the horror genre. In the future, I, along with various guest columnists, will take the beast apart, piece by twitching piece, in an effort to see what makes it tick . . . to see what works and what doesn’t. We’ll cover popular tropes and popular sub-genres, and we’ll even shine a light on specific, important works.
Just as they promised, this column has been about the craft of writing horror written by a variety of writers sharing their knowledge. Many authors familiar to readers of this blog like Grady Hendrix, Kristi Demeester, Nadia Bulkin, Gwendolyn Kiste, and Lisa Morton [to name only a few] have contributed their expertise.

But for you, the library worker, this column is a fantastic resource to get inside the head of horror authors and see how they sculpt the scares. Reading them as they break down how they portray emotions like paranoia, create supernatural monsters, and pay homage to classic tales, all of it is useful to us-- especially those of you who are too scared to read a horror novel yourself.

Seriously, if you are one of the many library workers who know they can't handle a full horror novel, I totally understand. No one, not even me, is going to make you scare yourself to the point that it is damaging to your mental health.

But, that statement does not mean you get a pass on helping horror readers. You still need to help them. You still need to understand why others do enjoy it. And guess what? This column will help you to that goal and it is not scary at all.

There is a new one every month, here, so after this horror centric month comes to an end, consider reading The H Word every month. That is one short column about horror, once a month. It really is enough to keep you in shape so that next year, when October rolls around again, you won't be caught off guard by the shambling hordes of horror fans making their way to your library asking for terrifying tomes.

To make it even easier for you [also so you don't tell me you forgot about it], I have added a direct link to this column on my Resources page and marked it [***] as one of the most useful.

Now get out there and help someone find a scary book.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 23- Q and A with Gabino Iglesias Including His Suggested Reads

Yesterday, author Gabino Iglesias wrote this piece for me about what it is really like to be an author of color in America. Today, I am asking Iglesias some questions about his own writing, fiction and nonfiction, the horror genre, and the authors he is most excited to read right now.

RA for All: You are an author of fiction but also a prolific writer about books and writing. How are the two different? Which do you enjoy more?

GI:  I know this sounds weird, but I love both of them equally. The main difference for me is that it's all about the authors I write about when I'm reviewing and then it's all about me and the voices in my head when I'm working on my own books. I want to tell my own stories and share them with as many readers as possible, but I also want to share books I love with as many readers as possible. The only thing I have to keep reminding myself is that the day is only so long. I tend to get caught up in novels and reviewing and then ignore my own writing for weeks at a time. I'm trying hard to get better at that. 

RA for All: Your contribution "GRACIAS, HERMANO: A LETTER TO A MAN I NEVER MET," to Clickers Forever: A Tribute to JF Gonzales [link to my review] made me cry. It is an honest piece about what it feels like to be a "brown" writer, wondering if you will ever get something published under your real name and how one man inspires you to fight the good fight, daily. I also see you starting to carry the legacy of Gonzales as you actively support and promote marginalized authors. What is the key thing librarians can do to help you in this mission as we suggest books to readers and build collections?

GI:  People usually think of reviewers and editors as book soldiers, and they are, but so are librarians and booksellers. Librarians are gatekeepers, decision makers, and influencers. ...the best thing they can do is take a look at the books on their shelves and ask themselves if those shelves are diverse. If they are not, then it's time to start doing some research. I teach high school and 85% of my students are Hispanic and 15% are African American. When they are given books, those books rarely come from people who look like them and seldom talk about people who looks like them. If you teach at a diverse school, you have to make sure that students can see themselves represented. Think the way things would change if every librarian in every school, city library, and university in the country decided to do everything in their power to support diverse books. Oh, what a beautiful thing it would be!   

RA for All: Why horror? What draws you to the genre?

GI:  When some folks think about horror, they think about monsters, ghosts, and demons. When I think about horror, I think about people. People who are scared. People who suffer People placed in dangerous situations. People haunted by things they can't simply shoot or run away from. No other genre taps into our emotional core quite like horror. No other genre tickles that reptilian brain the way horror does. 

RA for All: Your debut novel, Zero Saints, seamlessly mixed the horror and crime genres to much acclaim. I am always talking to librarians about how genre blending is becoming the norm. Why do you think that is both from your perspective as an author who has done it and as an observer of the general fiction landscape right now?

GI:  As a reader, I grew up on horror and then added crime to my diet. Most of the books I read belonged to one of those genres in a clear way because they played by the rules imposed by those genres. I don't like rules. You can take whatever you like from crime or fantasy or horror and use it while mixing in whatever you like from other genres. That's one thing that bizarro fiction does very well: the only rule of bizarro is to do whatever you want and write whatever makes you happy. I love darkness and horror. I love fear and uncertainty as well as the impossible turned real. I love nightmares in the flesh and syncretism taken to the extreme and explored in an honest way. I also love noir because it has good people pushed to doing bad things at its core. In my books, I make the rules, and my rules are that everything I love can coexist and work together beautifully if I work hard enough, so that's what I do. 

RA for All:  Can you suggest some of your favorite authors to my readers and tell us a little bit about each of them?

GI:  I could fill a book with names and reasons! I won't do that here. Instead, I'll tell you about ten amazing authors with recent releases. 
  • Paul Tremblay. Is there anyone out there who still hasn't read Tremblay? If so, fix that as soon as possible. He is the king of uncertainty and knows how to scare you while pulling at your heartstrings. 
  • Laura Purcell. I read The Silent Companions at the beginning of the year and I'm still talking about it. Many authors try to nail creepy atmosphere and fail horribly. This novel is a master class on doing just that. 
  • Caroline Kepnes. I don't know what to say about Providence. It's weird. It's scary. It's wonderful. It...should definitely be on your shelves.
  • Scott Adlerberg. We talked abut mixing genres, and few do it as well as Adlerberg. Graveyard Love is a modern horror classic. If Poe were alive, he'd be angry at how good this guy is. 
  • The Sisters of Slaughter. Simply pick up anything they have written and you'll know why they deserve a spot on any list. Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason are the real deal. 
  • C.V. Hunt. Folks who don't know better always refer to Hunt as a "he" because they can't fathom that level of gore and brutality coming from a women. Those who know better know anything a horror author can do a female horror author can do better. 
  • David Joy. If there is one author out there writing crime for horror fans, his name is David Joy. His latest, The Line That Held Us, is one of the best Southern Gothics you'll ever read. 
  • Matt Serafini. If you have a heart full of 80s slasher movies and novels, Serafini will be the best thing you discover this year. 
  • Stephen Graham Jones. I love to mix genres, and that means I want to be half as good as SGJ when I grow up. 
  • Brian Keene. One of the most influential horror authors and a superb nonfiction writer. No horror lover's education is complete without Keene. 

RA for All:  What is your latest release? What are you working on now [fiction and nonfiction]?

GI:  My latest release is Coyote Songs. It's about the very angry ghost of a mother causing chaos on both sides of la frontera. It's the bloodiest, most violent, most emotionally gritty thing I've ever written. I'm now working on the next one. It's always the next one that matters, right? In the meantime I'll keep writing reviews for NPR, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Criminal Element, Crimespree Magazine, PANK Magazine, and many others while also running my columns, Show Me Your Shelves and Skin Stories for CLASH Media, writing intros, and writing pieces LitReactor.  

Monday, October 22, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 22- Author and Book Reviewer Gabino Iglesias on What It is Really Like to Be an Author of Color

I first got to know Gabino Iglesias through his essays and book reviews on Lit Reactor. Iglesias is a prolific writer and reviewer for a variety of major media outlets [keep reading for more links]. I knew about his critically acclaimed debut novel, Zero Saints, but I really interacted with his work as a fellow book reviewer reading his nonfiction and following him on Twitter.

And then, last February, I read his contribution to Clicker Forever: A Tribute to JF Gonzales entitled, "Garcias, Hermano: A Letter to a Man I Never Met" and it made me cry. I gave the entire collection a star review in Booklist Magazine, and Iglesias' entry I will never forget.

You can read a tangential piece, "Collaborating with a Dead Hero" on LitReactor here.

I now race to get my hands on everything he writes-- fiction, nonfiction, book reviews, essays....everything.

So today, I am going to let Iglesias, a man who writes about marginalized voices frequently, an author of brilliant fiction and nonfiction, and a human who fights for all to humans to be treated with dignity, I am going to let him tell you about what it is truly like to be a writer of color in America. And as you read his essay, please remember, this is a successful, well educated, critically acclaimed writer of color. Someone who has the platform to speak from NPR, the LA Times, LitReactor, and other major media outlets. Then imagine everyone else, those without a way to defend themselves or speak out.

That's where we come in, at the public library. I will not take anyone's excuses that their community doesn't want or need diverse collections. I stood up to a powerful librarian from a notoriously racist suburb at my state library conference 10 days ago and challenged her in front of her peers when she said that I couldn't "require diverse collections to her community because they don't want them." I did not back down and she grudgingly admitted I was correct.

Everyone needs a collection that reflects the world we live in because all kinds of people live everywhere AND we all need to understand the perspectives of the people that make up our world, and last time I checked, the world is more "brown" [to borrow the word from Iglesias] than "white."

Today, I asked Iglesias to show us all a small slice of the life of an author of color- on both blogs. And then tomorrow, on the horror blog, he will answer some questions about horror specifically, tell you about his books, and even suggest some of his personal favorites.

I would like to thank Iglesias for being open and honest with my readers. I have added some links to his piece below if you want to check out more about him.

Now, Gabino Iglesias:

Let me give you an idea of what it’s like to be a writer of color in this country. It won’t be a thing about my past or a long recount of my plethora of negative experiences. Instead, I’ll keep it short and recent. A single day: October 20, 2018. 

At 6:00am I got to the gym. A few minutes later, a man on his way out was having a loud conversation on his cell phone. He suddenly switched to an Indian accent and laughed before pushing the door and walking out into the dark. I wished he hadn’t. I wished he had stuck around so I could give him a lesson in civility. A few minutes later, I pulled out my phone and Tweeted: “Remember: making fun of someone’s accent makes you trash. If you do it in front of me/to me, I’m coming for you. Also, you have an accent. Move a few states, change coasts or travel a bit and you’ll notice. Happy Saturday.” 

The guy on the phone soured my mood, but at 7:00am I received an email notification that my review of Jeff Jackson’s Destroy All Monsters was up at NPR. I’ve been a professional book reviewer for a decade, but talking about books in great venues hasn’t lost its appeal, so my mood soared back up. I was able to ride that high for hours. That’s how happy books and shining a light on the work of outstanding authors makes me. 

At 4:00pm I took a stack of books I won’t read and some I received in the mail twice and went to a local used book store. I stood in line behind a white man at the selling counter. They asked him if he had sold with them before, took his license, asked him if he went by Paul, and told him they’d call him in a few minutes with an offer. Then I stepped up to the counter and the following conversation took place: 

Counter guy: "You sold with us before?" 

Me, giving him my license: "Yeah." 

Counter guy, looking at the stack: "So you...acquired these legally?" 

I didn't yell or drag him over the counter to knock his teeth down his throat. I didn't ask to talk to his manager. I didn’t say “I probably read more books in a month than you read in a year.” I didn’t say I get a ridiculous number of books delivered to my front door every month. Instead, I looked at him in a way that clearly communicated one more racist comment and he would definitely fly over that counter. He looked at his shoes and asked me how I pronounced my name. I slowly said “Gabino” instead of “In the immortal words of Roxane Gay, it’s Dr. Iglesias to you, motherfucker.” 

I’m used to those comments. I’m used to the looks. I’m used to people running away from me when we step off the bus at the same time. I’m used to being followed around whenever I step into a store. I have developed coping mechanisms to navigate life without letting stuff like that ruin my blood pressure. Unfortunately, that nonsense seeps into my writing career. Being a writer of color is different from being a white writer. Let me give you a mixed bag of facts and invitations: 
1. Every 1-star review of my previous novel, ZERO SAINTS, includes a complaint about the amount of Spanish in the narrative. There’s also Russian and Yoruba in there, but no one has ever complained about those. 

2. I’m not good at many things, but I’m good at readings. I’ve had many people come up to me after readings to congratulate me. I’ve also had many people come up to me to ask about my accent, tell me I have very good English, tell me I sound “educated,” or comment something about the Spanglish I throw into every reading. 

3. I write primarily horror and crime. I invite you to go make a list of all the Latin@s who have won the Bram Stoker or an Anthony Award. When you’re done (trust me, it won’t take long!), go check out the best-sellers lists right now. The term whiteout comes to mind, doesn’t it? 

In any case, for folks like me, writing is act of resistance. After folks complained about the Spanish and Spanglish in ZERO SAINTS (a novel that was praised by Jerry Stahl, optioned for film, nominated to the Wonderland Book Award, translated into Spanish and published in Spain, and praised in places like the Los Angeles Review of Books), I decided to double down, to stay true to my voice, to make barrio noir a thing, and to anger as many racists as possible in the process while saying something with my scary stories. 

Now let me tell you about the end of my day. A racist read that tweet about making fun of accents. At around 8:00pm he decided to call me a beaner on Twitter. Twice. Beaner and spic are things I’ve been called on Twitter a few times over the past year. I don’t let that get to me. Let them call me names as I continue to hustle, to write and publish, to review great authors, and to support indie lit, LGBTQ writers, fellow writers of color, Appalachian writers, and work in translation. 

As a horror writer, my job is to scare and entertain, but I decided long ago to do that within the context of my identity and while saying something about race and authenticity with my writing. My job is to support and amplify marginalized voices with my platform and my nonfiction. My job is to minimize experiences like my own for others and to battle racism wherever and whenever it pops up. My job is to strategically dismantle the system from the inside so that I never again have to sit on a diversity panel where half the panelists have absolutely no reason to be there but there weren’t enough authors of color invited/present to fill said panel. My job is to give readers blood and pain and death and mayhem but in a way that makes me happy and aligns with my life and experiences. My job is to tell the tales of my side of the world. My job is to push with all I have until we have women and people of color getting published as often as they should and until there is a bit of Otherness in those best-sellers lists. The time is now. I’m not alone. COYOTE SONGS, my next novel, will be published on October 31st. It’s full of horror and violence and multiculturalism and syncretism and Spanglish. I’m ready for the backlash. I’m ready to keep fighting. The thing about marginalized voices is this: you can try to ostracize us, but we will push back harder than you thought possible.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 21- A Brief History of Gothic Horror via NYPL and More For You To Use To Help Your Patrons

Today I want to share with you a wonderful article with an annotated book list via the NYPL blog-- A  Brief History of Gothic Horror.

This is an example of serving your patrons all year long. Yes this article and annotated book list was published in October with the idea of capturing the largest possible audience, but, they also tagged it "horror," so that people could access it, and dozens of other lists about horror, from this year and year's past, with one simple click here, anytime.

Now, I know my readers, and the first thing many of you are going to say is something along the lines of:
"But Becky, I work at a tiny library and I don't have the resources [either money or staff] to create this level of content about anything; I am barely treading water as it is."
And to all of you I say:
"This is exactly why I posted these links. You don't have to do the work yourself in order to help your patrons. As I say in Rule 7 of Becky 10 Rules of Basic RA Service-- Use Resources. They are there to make your job easier; give you less you have to do on your own."
[side note: yes, I know I am talking to myself, but I will do anything to get you all to stop making excuses as to why you aren't helping your horror readers]

Don't tell me you don't have the staff like NYPL to put out this material. Who cares? Use theirs. It's what we do. Our profession is know for it. As my friend Steve Thomas of Circulating Ideas likes to say, Librarians don't know the answers to everything, we just know where to find them.

Well my friends, the answers to your lack of horror lists and info for your patrons lies in the work of others, others who are freely sharing it for all comers, like NYPL, like me. Now go forth and help some horror readers. Right now. No more excuses allowed.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 20: Podcasts for Horror Lovers via LitReactor

During October we obviously see an increase in people seeking out horror titles. While some are just seasonal readers, others find that they really like the genre more than they thought.

We need to be ready with suggestions for reading all year, but we also need to help readers explore their interests on their own. One of the best ways to do that is to suggest free podcasts.

Now, I know some library administrators don't want you suggesting podcasts to patrons because they are not part of our collections and therefore don't generate circ stats. I have and entire  post about this from last November about why you need to incorporate podcasts into your RA arsenal. So let's put that argument aside for today since I have already tackled it in length here.

One of the best ways to help our patrons continue to explore areas of leisure reading on their own is to help them identify some great podcasts. In the horror world we have many, and, they are both fiction [original storytelling] and nonfiction [about the genre].

As we have all seen with ourselves and our patrons, people love the bite sized storytelling medium that podcasts are. So show your patrons that you care about their new found horror love and still want to help them even after the Halloween displays go down. Post this annotated list from Lit Reactor of 33 Cool Podcasts For Horror Lovers in your building, on your websites, on your social media, and everywhere you have resource lists for patrons to find on their own.

[I would further argue that you need an entire podcast section as part of your RA resources, but baby steps.]

Start with this list. Make it visible, especially from now until the end of November [and then again in April; yes, I am still trying to make Halfway to Halloween a thing]. It is after Halloween when some people will start to realize that they did like horror and want more, but maybe not an entire book. This podcast list will keep the genre fresh in their minds and a regular part of their leisure "reading" until they pick up another book.

And when they want another scary tale, they will remember who had been there for them all along...the library. That is the key to what we do. Helping people fulfill their wants and making ourselves a part of what keeps them happy. They know we are their for their needs, but it is when we make it clear that their wants are just as important that we gain their admiration [and votes] for life.

See it's not all scares on this blog.

Friday, October 19, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 19- Dr. Stephen Graham Jones on the Evolutions of Zombies and Growth in the Academic Study of Horror

Yesterday on the main blog, I wrote about popular reading collections in academic libraries. Today, here on the horror blog, I want to take that conversation one step further and talk about the study of horror fiction in academia.

One of the findings in the article I posted yesterday was that genre fiction was the most popular in these collections. Yup, that's right, not nonfiction or literary fiction but mysteries, romance and speculative fiction. Those of us in public libraries are not surprised by this, but our academic friends were.

Well, not all. There are many professors and librarians in our Colleges and Universities who not only write horror, but offer it as a subject worthy of academic study.

Let's start with Dr. Stephen Graham Jones, a well known horror author [he was one of the NPR Summer Reads moderators] but he is also a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.

One of his most popular classes is about zombies in popular culture.  Click here for a local news story where Dr. Jones was interviewed. 

Not only is he one of my favorite authors, Jones is also using his status as an acclaimed member of academia to help elevate the genre and give it the attention it deserves. But he is not the only academic person setting out to prove that horror is worth more serious study.

Michele Brittany and Nicholas Diak have been running the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference during StokerCon [and previous to StokerCon's existence] for many years now. From their website:
The Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference is an opportunity for individuals to present on completed research or work-in-progress horror studies projects that continue the dialogue of academic analysis of the horror genre.  As in prior years, we are looking for completed research or work-in-progress projects that can be presented to with the intent to expand the scholarship on various facets of horror that proliferates in.
The research they have amassed through this conference is astounding. I know this because they are gathering the best of their papers into an anthology to be published in 2019 and I wrote the afterward. I was blown away but the topics they receive proper academic papers on.

And finally, I have an example of a major university library hosting a serious exhibit on horror. The Lilly Library at the University of Indiana has mounted an amazing exhibition on Frankenstein that is truly a 360 view of the book, the author, and its influence. Rebecca Baumann, the Head of Public Services, organized this amazing exhibition. You can see her being interviewed on the local news about it here.

I have invited Rebecca to present at StokerCon during Librarians' Day to talk about this exhibition and how others can do similar ones revolving around popular fiction at their libraries. Click here to register now and guarantee your spot.

But even if you cannot join us in May for StokerCon, this post is very important for the work we do every day in public libraries. Popular genre fiction matters and is worth or attention. These are but three high profile examples. Libraries can join the fray here by having programming around horror, genre fiction, and fandoms. If your administration is wary of allowing you to do this, point them to this post.

The green light from two major universities and a published book of academic papers on horror should be enough to convince even the most stubborn of genre snobs.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 18: Oh, The Horror! Year 2

Last year during 31 Days of Horror I introduced you to Konrad from the Springfield-Greene County [MO] Library District and his Oh, The Horror! month of programming here.

Well, they had such a wonderful response that the library asked Konrad to do it all again this year. Here is their 2018 flyer with a schedule of events.

From Konrad's email to me at the start of the month:
We had such a great time with and such a good turnout for "Oh, the Horror!" last year that we had to bring it back. We felt like we had a pretty cohesive theme last year around "exorcism," so we wanted to stay thematic and focus on "monsters real and imagined" this year. Kaitlyn McConnell of Ozarks Alive did such a great job kicking things off last year that we had to start things off with her, and her "Monsters of the Ozarks" presentation last night attracted 112 people to learn about monsters like Gow-row, Momo, and the Goat Man of Rolla. 
We streamlined our programs a bit and went more for quality over quantity so we can (hopefully) get a higher attendance average and lobby for funding for next year.
We've got a great line-up this year, including cryptozoologist Lyle Blackburn, a showing of "The Silence of the Lambs," and St. Louis author Kea Wilson discussing her debut novel, "We Eat Our Own."
I just want you to know I'm still fighting the good fight for horror in libraries! 
I have received more updates from Konrad since and the programs are all bringing in over 100 people. He sent pictures of the audience to prove it!

When Konrad first conceived of this project last year, he was trying to use his passion for horror and an October placement to build excitement in his community and inspire people to connect with the library in a new way. The library was not 100% convinced that people would come out for horror. A fact that doesn't surprise me at all. But, Konrad had gotten Grady Hendrix to come, so it wasn't like they were going to say no to that!

Success meant Konrad was given funding to give it a go again this year, and you know what? People love it. The moral here-- give horror programing a try.

More and more libraries are giving genre programming the green light. Why? Because it draws in patrons, patrons who might not have thought the library was for them, but when we offer fandom and genre programs, suddenly they can see themselves in the library. They feel like it is a place for them. We, the library workers, know the library is for everyone, but sadly, we don't always project this attitude with our actions.

I have been gathering the stories from all different types of libraries, from Konrad's month long extravaganza to one-off exhibitions at Academic libraries to all out fan fests and with help from my colleague Emily, we are going to have a panel at StokerCon Librarians' Day all about genre based programming at your library. The Springfield-Greene County District Library has graciously agreed to send Konrad up to Grand Rapids to share his experiences and enthusiasm with all of you, but only if you join us. I for one can't wait.

Have you also had some horror programming this year? If so, let me know. Toward the end of the month I would love to run a showcase of all of the wonderful horror based programing happening this month all over the country. Contact me with "31 Days" in the subject line- bspratford [at] hotmail [dot] com- so I can share your successes with a wider audience.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

31 Days of Horror: Day 17-- Why I Love Horror by J.G. Faherty

Today the final participant in my Why I Love Horror 2018 series is someone who has appeared on the blog many times before, author and HWA Library Committee Chair, J.G. Faherty.

Faherty is a great readalike for Stephen King. He writes compelling horror that cross subgenre boundaries regularly but also always has great characters and the chills horror readers are craving. Depending on his book, the level of gore is varied, but it is never gratuitous and fits with the story he is telling and the level of terror he is invoking. Cemetery Club [adult] and Ghosts of Coronado Bay [YA- link to my review] are great places to begin giving Faherty a try.

I have also gotten to know Faherty through his tireless work for the HWA on making sure that libraries are a part of the association's goals and work. I can honestly say that without Faherty reaching out to me years ago, I would never be as involved in the HWA as I am now. He has a true passion for the genre. Thankfully, he also has the writing chops to go with it.

I think Faherty captures why he is so personally passionate about horror in his essay below, and he does so in language that I think many of your own patrons would also use.

I will still have more from Faherty before the month is over, but first, here is why he loves horror.


☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠

Why I Love Horror 
By JG Faherty 


We Have Always Lived in the Castle is the title to Shirley Jackson’s final novel. It’s also how I would describe my relationship with horror. 


For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of horror. My earliest memories include watching the Universal monster movies and watching TV shows like Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. I got my reading start with books about dinosaurs and reptiles, but my first ventures into fiction included Poe, Shelley, Verne, and Stoker. Even the cartoons I watched as a kid tended more toward the spooky or mysterious: Scooby Do, Jonny Quest, Gigantor. My favorite Bugs Bunny episodes were the ones with monsters in them and my favorite holiday was, of course, Halloween.


Even my bedtime stories revolved around scary stuff. My dad used to tell me tales about a mischievous kitty who would have all sorts of crazy adventures in mad scientist laboratories or with vampires or with criminals in dark, dangerous alleys. He was kind of a feline Tintin (who was also a favorite of mine!). 


As I got a little older, I discovered the grand horror movies of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Them!, the Hammer films, etc. One of the greatest moments of my young life came at a drive in theater, where after Planet of the Apes (a new release at the time), the 2nd feature was one I’d never heard of: Night of the Living Dead. My parents roared out of that parking lot like we were being chased by the devil, saying that was no kind of movie for an eight-year-old, but not before I got my first glimpse of those shambling, hollow-eyed zombies marching across the cemetery. 


I was hooked! 


After that, horror went from a shared favorite (I also enjoyed science fiction and mysteries) to my primary form of entertainment. My dressers were crowded with the Aurora monster models. It was the 1970s, a golden age for horror, so every Saturday there was a new movie to see at the local theater, ranging from Godzilla films to classics like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Sundays found me in front of the TV each morning to watch Thriller Theater, which showed all the old black and white horror and monster sci-fi from the 50s and 60s. I devoured it all and wanted more. I discovered the magazines: Creepy, Terror Tales, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Strange Tales, Eerie. Marvel had a line of monster comics, and there were even comics based on the classic horror novels. 


And the books! From Poe and Shelley and Stoker I moved on to Bloch, Wellman, and Wagner. And then, of course, King, Koontz, and Straub. In the 80s, horror paperbacks exploded. Garton, Hautala, Saul, Farris, Monteleone, Wilson, Campbell, Herbert. The list goes on and on. And the movies: gory fun the likes of I Spit on Your Grave, The Hills Have Eyes, Food of the Gods, Child’s Play, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Alien, Bloodsucking Freaks, and a million others. 


I remember one night, I was in a bar with 2 friends. We’d just come from the movies. Three girls sat down next to us, so we started talking to them. They said they’d just come from the movies, and we said “Us, too! What did you see?” 

“Blue Lagoon,” they replied. “What about you?” 

“Zombie Holocaust and Bloodsucking Freaks.” 

Needless to say, we spent the rest of the night drinking alone! 


As a horror writer, people often ask me what happened in my life that made me enjoy horror? I can only answer that I was made for it, that it was meant to be. There were no terrible traumas in my childhood. I’ve just always been attracted to the macabre. As kids, we played hide and seek in cemeteries and mausoleums. None of the books I’ve read or movies I’ve watched have ever given me a single nightmare. In fact, even going back to my early childhood, most horror never even scared me. The movies kept me at the edge of my seat, or made me squeal with joy at a particularly grotesque death. But rarely did I get more than the occasional tingle down my spine. I can only remember a single time I actually jumped in a theater, and that was during my first viewing of Phantasm. 


When it comes to books, the only one that ever scared me enough to put it down and finish it later was King’s Pet Sematary. 


It’s this inability to be frightened that makes things difficult when I write, because I have no idea if what I’m putting down is actually scary. I have to wait until people read it to find out, and sometimes I’m surprised at what frightens people and what doesn’t. 


So, to go back to the original question. Why do I love horror? It’s a part of me. It’s authentic, because it deals with real human emotions that we all share. It helps us understand and deal with our fears, our losses, our trepidation of the unknown. It makes us feel better, because those people on the screen or in the pages are having much worse days than us. There is something for every mood and every preference, because horror can involve romance, adventure, mystery, blood and guts, realism, or extreme supernatural fiction. 


But more than anything, I love horror because it’s who I am and who I’ve always been. 


Horror is my castle, and I have always lived in it. 


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A life-long resident of New York's haunted Hudson Valley, JG Faherty has been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award® (The Cure, Ghosts of Coronado Bay) and ITW Thriller Award (The Burning Time), and he is the author of 6 novels, 9 novellas, and more than 60 short stories. An Active member of several genre writers’ organizations, he serves as the Director of the HWA’s Library & Literacy Program, which focuses on reading programs for young adults. He grew up enthralled with the horror movies and books of the 1950s, 60, 70s, and 80s. His next novel, Hellrider, comes out in 2019. 
Follow him at www.twitter.com/jgfaherty, www.facebook.com/jgfaherty, www.jgfaherty.com, and http://jgfaherty-blog.blogspot.com/