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.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Inaugural Splatterpunk Award Winners with Nominees for RA and CD Purposes

Here is an awards list you need to have for any library where there is a solid horror readership.

Splatterpunk like it's Romance equivalent,Erotica, is gaining in popularity once again. If your library adds the best erotica [which most do by now], you have no excuse not to circulatethe best of extreme horror.

How do we identify where to begin in this violent and sexually explicit subgenre? Well, with the award winners of course!

Just like we cannot collect every erotica title that is popular these days [wed run out of money], we cannot get every extreme horror title. But the best, those we should have. 

Below, you can find the short list of nominees and the winners courtesy of Locus Magazine. Two of the nominees for best novel also have links to reviews I published in IndiePicks magazine. And the short story winner, Jeff Strand, is another author you probably have in your library collections [his middle grade novels are perfect for reluctant readers]. I would highly suggest adding the novel nominees, although a few libraries may have pushback on Christin Morgan’s title [the book is great though]. Remember, awards lists are a great RA tool as well as a collection development tool. Here is my original post from 2011 where I outlined how to use awards lists as a resource.

2018 Splatterpunk Awards Winners

Locus Magazine, Science Fiction FantasyWinners of the the inaugural Splatterpunk Awards, honoring “superior achievement in the sub-genres of SplatterPunk / Extreme Horror fiction,” were announced at Killercon 2018, held August 24-26, 2018 at the Wingate by Wyndham Conference Center in Round Rock TX.
Best Novel
Best Novella
  • WINNER: Header 3, Edward Lee & Ryan Harding (Necro)
Best Short Story
Best Collection
Best Anthology
J.F. Gonzalez Lifetime Achievement Award
  • David J. Schow
The 2018 jurors were Tod Clark, Gerard Houarner, Mike Lombardo, Monica J. O’Rourke, and David J. Schow. The selectors for the J.F. Gonzalez Award were Brian Keene and Wrath James White.
For more, see the Killercon website.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The HWA's New Executive Board Includes Me!

Anyone who follows me at all know that I have worked tirelessly over the last few years to help make inroads between libraries and horror as a genre [and its specific authors and their titles].

One of the ways I have done this is to work officially with the Horror Writers Association to help them connect with libraries. This is a writers group that values libraries and the work we do to build life long readers. As a professional [Active] writing member of the organization, I can be that literal bridge between the writers and the libraries in a way others cannot.

As I have gotten more and more involved with the organization as a volunteer, and as I have seen great improvements in the organization as a whole over the last 5 years, I finally put my hat in the ring to stop just being a volunteer and start being one of the people who officially runs the org [although to be fair, it's still a volunteer job, just a more official one]. I ran for Secretary on a platform that I have already given many hours to the org and proven I can get work done, and that I have been a Cook County, IL elected official for 17 years as a member of the La Grange Public Library Board where I have held every office but Treasurer and been one of 7 people responsible for managing almost $3 million dollars of tax payer money [And unlike many a Cook County elected official before me, I have never been indicted]. In other words, I know what being Secretary would entail.

So I wrote my candidate statement and waited. It turns out I was opposed by someone I greatly admire as a writer, business person and human being-- Michael Bailey [by the way, go buy his books, especially any anthologies he has edited, for your collections. They are amazing and win tons of awards. May I suggest beginning with The Library of the Dead; it's very good and it's easy to hand sell to patrons. My daughter in particular is an evangelist for Christopher Golden's story in the collection.] Michael has also given a lot of his time to the HWA. I actually felt bad that I was running against him because he totally deserves it too. In fact, when an author I know direct messaged me to tell me he voted for me, I was shocked. I told him, "Heck, even I was considering voting for Michael." And I was only half kidding.

Sunday, I was informed that I had won, and I was both shocked and humbled.

So thanks to everyone who voted for me. I am very honored because I know my opponent got a ton of votes. But I am humbled because I know that many authors had to vote for me to win; authors who know and respect Michael also, authors who felt I am doing good work and could best represent their interests on the board. This means that the work I have been doing is being taken as seriously by the authors as it is the libraries. I work in a vacuum, at home in front of my computer, advocating for horror each and every day with my written words and sometimes, with my appearances. But I don't always get feedback to know if it is working. Today, I have some proof that it is.

I promise to help make sure the organization continues to work to bridge the gap between the authors and the readers. In fact, I had a breakfast meeting this morning to nail down the details on a program that will do just that; something a few of us at HWA have been working on all summer. But you will have to wait for those details until October.

In the meantime I want to remind you that there are many genre writers associations that want librarian input. HWA is not the only one. I wrote a longer post about it in April of 2017: Call to Action: Get Involved with a Writers Association. Please read that post and consider joining a writers association too. It doesn;t have to be the horror one. Don't feel like they won't take you in. One thing I have learned with my involvement in the HWA is that the authors truly want our help and input. And today is proof of that.

Please, go look at any writers organization and consider joining. Most have a level specifically for library workers. You can use my linked list of preferred genre resources for the full list of organizations. [This list is also always available at the bottom of my 10 Rules of Basic RA Service page.] The writers want to work with us. Go add your voice to the discussion.

Below I have attached the official election results announcement, just to prove to myself that it is real.


HWA is pleased to release the results of our 2018 election:

Lisa Morton (who ran unopposed) has been re-elected President.

Becky Spratford has been elected Secretary.

Linda Addison, James Chambers, and Ellen Datlow have been (re-)elected to Trustee positions.

Becky and James will be officially taking office on November 1. All positions are two-year terms.

This election saw exceptionally high voter turn-out (a good sign), so HWA is grateful to all Active members who voted. We are also grateful to all of those who took the time to run for office.
Special thanks to our outgoing Secretary Joe McKinney and outgoing Trustee Alessandro Manzetti for all of their hard work on behalf of the organization.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Booklist Magazine’s Annual Horror Top 10

Each year, the August issue of Booklist Magazine is a Spotlight issue on Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror which means the editors take all of the star reviews for Horror from the past 12 months and pick a Top 10.

This list is a great RA and Collection Development resource for a few reasons:
  1. You need all 10 of the titles in your collections. You probably already have most of them. These are the bare minimum of horror titles for all library collections. They are a good fit for the general reader.
  2. You can use this list, or any list from August’s past, as a premade book talk. Looking for a scary read? Here are ten great titles courtesy of Booklist. Any year will do.
  3. Same using this list and all past years' lists to make a display. Halloween is just around the corner.
  4. You can use these lists as ready reference for when you get a request for a horror title. All of the titles link to a longer review, which you can read to the patron to see if they are interested in the title.
Speaking of lists from year’s past, click on the year to get the list.
I can also vouch for this list since I reviewed or read 5 of the 10 titles. 

Maguire, Susan (author). 
FEATURE. First published August, 2018 (Booklist).

Magical books, bodily misery, the end of the world, and mermaids (oh my!) are all covered in this year’s 10 best horror-fiction novels, reviewed in Booklist between August 2017 and July 2018.

After the End of the World. By Jonathan L. Howard. 2017. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $26.99 (9781250060907).
The second Carter and Lovecraft novel is diabolically clever and convoluted, with a new time line, an epic conspiracy, and a dangerously magical book that is not supposed to exist.

The Book of Hidden Things. By Francesco Dimitri. 2018. Titan, $14.95 (9781785657078).
Three grown childhood friends investigate the disappearance of a fourth, following a trail left in a book of supernatural creatures, in this emotional English-language debut.

The Cabin at the End of the World . By Paul Tremblay. 2018. Morrow, $26.99 (9780062679109).
A young girl and her two dads may be the key to humanity’s survival in this thriller that uses unreliable narrators and a nonlinear time line to capture the emotional intensity and terror of the family’s dilemma.

Frankenstein in Baghdad. By Ahmed Saadawi. Tr. by Jonathan Wright. 2018. Penguin Press, $16 (9780143128793).
In Saadawi’s haunting and startling mix of horror, mystery, and tragedy, a monster is constructed from the scattered remains of bombing victims in U.S.-occupied Baghdad, and a killing spree that starts as righteous revenge turns amoral.

Her Body and Other Parties. By Carmen Maria Machado. 2017. Graywolf, $16 (9781555977887).
Women and their bodies, and the violence done to them both by themselves and others, occupy the center of Machado’s inventive, sensual, and eerie debut horror collection, describing situations that are at once familiar and completely strange.

Into the Drowning Deep. By Mira Grant. 2017. Orbit, $26 (9780316379403).
A team of scientists and big-game hunters travel deep into the Marianas Trench to find proof of the existence of mermaids—and that the total annihilation of a previous expedition was not a hoax—in Grant’s fast-paced, thrilling horrorfest.

Thirty-Seven. By Peter Stenson. 2018. Dzanc, $26.95 (9781945814310).
In an unnerving but spellbinding story that alternates between a young man’s days among his twisted adopted family and his later post-traumatic struggles following the self-destruction of a cult run by a former oncologist, counterculture favorite Stenson shines a spotlight on the darker side of humankind’s primal yearning to belong.

Unbury Carol. By Josh Malerman. 2018. Del Rey, $27 (9780399180163).
Malerman’s retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” which mixes suspense, dark fantasy, and the spaghetti western, features narrator Carol, afflicted with a spontaneous coma; her dastardly husband; her outlaw first love; and a perfectly rendered villain.

We Sold Our Souls. By Grady Hendrix. 2018. Quirk, $24.99 (9781683690122).
A pulpy, Faustian tale of a heavy-metal megastar and his former bandmates who are determined to save their own souls—and the world.

The Whispering Room. By Dean Koontz. 2017. Bantam, $28 (9780345546807).

Koontz’s continuation of The Silent Corner (2017) will have readers questioning if renegade FBI agent Jane Hawk is too unhinged to defeat the scientists whose nanotechnology conspiracy caused her husband’s death.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Review Index Update

The following reviews were added to the Horror Review Index today:

Monday, August 6, 2018

My Conversation with Legendary Horror Editor Don D'Auria

For this years Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror Spotlight issue of Booklist magazine, I interviewed Don D’Auria about the launch of Flame Tree Press. I have included the full text from the magazine below, but you can also pull up the interview directly here. I have also added Flame Tree Press to my list of the Best Independent Horror Publishers for Libraries archive here.

This is the third year in a row I have contributed an original piece to the annual spotlight issue. Please refer to my Original Horror Lists, Articles, and Presentations page here on the horror blog to access all three at any time, or to see other original pieces [not reviews] that I have published in a variety of places. Reviews are archived separately here.

In general, don’t forget to use all of the pages in the right gutter of every page of the blog. They contain a lot of useful RA and collection development info, including plenty of ready made book talks for you to share with horror fans immediately.

And now-- What’s Hot in Horror: A Conversation with Don D'Auria

What’s Hot in Horror: A Conversation with Don D’Auria.


Spratford, Becky (author).

FEATURE. First published August, 2018 (Booklist).

Readers’ advisors around the world know: horror is having a moment. Well, more than a moment; it is red hot. But why? It might have something to do with our uncertain times. As Stephen King noted in Danse Macabre, his 1981 analysis of the genre: “Every 10 to 20 years, [horror movies and novels] seem to enjoy a cycle of increased popularity and visibility. These periods almost always coincide with periods of fairly serious economic and political strain.” In other words, in tough times, some people look for escape by reading about something even worse. As bad as life seems, at least you aren’t being chased by a pack of brain-eating zombies.

Readers are clearly thirsting for terrifying tales right now. Recently I had the chance to talk with Don D’Auria, the executive director of Flame Tree Press, a new imprint from Flame Tree Publishing, about the resurgence of the genre and about his 25 years editing horror.

D’Auria first made a name for himself when he was at the helm of the Leisure Books horror line back in 1997, launching the careers of such best-selling authors as Sarah Pinborough and Brian Keene and making classic novels by masters like Ramsey Campbell and Edward Lee available to a whole new generation of fans. He noted that horror is similar to all genres in that it’s constantly shifting in response to the attitudes of its readers. “Its popularity rises and falls, and right now I’d say it’s certainly risen. You only have to look at movies like A Quiet Place or Hereditary, or TV shows like Stranger Things, to see how horror is capturing the public imagination more than it has for years.”
Three years ago, British-based Flame Tree Publishing saw which way the cultural wind was blowing and put out a series of gothic anthologies focused on ghosts, horror, and sf. The response was better than projected, and publisher Nick Wells, a dark-fiction fan himself, tapped D’Auria to start an entirely new, U.S.-based imprint.​ 

D’Auria is casting Flame Tree Press’ net wide in terms of content, style, and authors. The launch season covers the breadth of horror: from a classic haunted house (The Siren and the Specter, by Jonathan Janz) to dark fantasy (The Mouth of the Dark, by Tim Waggoner) to sf adventure (The Sky Woman, by J. D. Moyer) to urban thrillers (The Bad Neighbor, by David Tallerman), along with new fiction by household names including Ramsey Campbell (Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach). Flame Tree Press plans to release 13 titles from the September launch through December 2018, and, by 2020, 40 original titles per year.
If it sounds ambitious, it is. D’Auria knows that Flame Tree still has some issues to work through to truly represent the imprint’s tagline, “Fiction without Frontiers.” “The full shape of the list will take a couple of years to become apparent. We’ll have crime and science fiction from China, epic fantasy from Finland, and we’re exploring ways of encouraging more diversity in our submissions. I’d like readers to feel they can trust us to publish books they will love.”

As for where horror is going in the future, D’Auria notes that, in general, horror fiction has been moving away from gothic castles and far-flung places and toward realism. “Increasingly, horror is set in our own world, in the suburbs or cities where we live today. Horror reflects more of our own experience. We can identify with the characters and feel their terror more personally, even if they’re battling vampires or other monsters. And, of course, since Robert Bloch wrote Psycho, monsters can literally be the guy next door.”

D’Auria is committed to keeping libraries well stocked with diverse, new voices that respond to the genre’s constantly evolving trends and keep the ever-growing number of fans of these dark tales reading with the lights on high and loving every moment of it. Those of us helping readers on the front lines know we can use all the scary books we can get our hands on—especially with Halloween coming up—and the fact there is a seasoned veteran well positioned to help us is very good news indeed.

Becky Spratford is a horror reviewer for Booklist and the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, 2nd edition (ALA Editions, 2012).