Also click here to read what happened when I tried to get Chicago Tribune columnist Barbara Brotman to try reading some horror.
Click here at 10am to listen to me live on the radio talking about horror fiction.
I gave an interview with the Oak Park Patch. Click here for the full text. I will also paste it at the end of this post.
All three of this appearances do have some new information about Horror RA. You gotta save the best for last.
Speaking of the end, thank you for joining me on this 31 Day journey. I am going to take a break for a few days, but I will be back. Just don't expect any 31 days in a row again until next year. In the meantime, order a book and use the coupon code at the top of this page for $5 off.
My goal is to post here 2x a week, but of course, that will wax and wane depending on what is going on in the horror world. You can however, follow this blog via RSS or email feeds to know when something is going on. Also, I continue to post every weekday on all things RA related over on RA for All.
Have a fun and safe Halloween.
Becky Spratford is a Readers Advisor at theBerwyn Public Library. When she's not running her two popular blogs, RA for All and RA for All: Horror, she is corrupting the minds of students atDominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science.
The La Grange resident is also the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, 2nd edition(ALA, 2012) and is a proud member of the Horror Writers Association.
Patch caught up with her for some insight on her favorite literary genre.
Patch: What was your introduction to horror and what was your reaction to it at the time?Becky Spratford: My dad was (and is) a huge Stephen King fan, so his books were always lying around the house. But my first visceral memory was in the summer at a friend's house watching the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie. I can still remember scenes from the movie.
The idea that in your dreams you could be stalked and killed by a monster was both scary and intriguing. I spent many a summer night in the 1980s watching more Nightmare on Elm Streets and the Hellraiser films. I could not get enough. I was drawn in, captured, and the genre never let me go.
Patch: Having spent years watching horror and surrounding yourself in the culture, is there one film or novel that stands out for you as “the best,” or at least a personal favorite?Spratford: The books stay with me more than the films for sure. I have had many favorites over the years, but the book I hand sell to patrons over and over and over again in The Ruins by Scott Smith. Here a group of 20-somethings travel into the jungle to explore some Mayan ruins and end up trapped on a hill by an unlikely monster who always gets its prey. This book changed the way I think about horror novels.
The entire time I was reading this book, I was trying to figure out how these kids were going to get out of this terrible situation, but when you get to the end (which I will not give away) I was blown away. The answer was so obvious, yet so radical. It changed the entire genre. From The Ruins-on (2006), no character was safe in a horror novel anymore. There no longer has to be a survivor. By the way, do not watch the movie. It is bad and totally different.
Patch: What is it about horror that turns an everyday librarian and bibliophile into a lover of the spooky and scary?
Spratford: I read so much, both for work and for fun, that dark twists, macabre events and slightly off-kiltered views of reality hold my attention. Dark fiction was always an interest of mine, but when my Library School professor Bill Crowley (still at Dominican) told me that the American Library Association was looking for someone to write the Readers' Advisory Guide to Horror books and he thought I would be perfect, I jumped at the chance.
I love writing and reading equally, and the chance to combine the two was a dream come true. That was back in 2001 when I co-wrote the first edition. I threw myself into the horror world and spent years studying the genre. I found a calling. By the time I started writing the second edition (back in 2010), I was a member of the Horror Writers Association and an expert in the genre. Horror is looked down upon by many because it preys on our emotions and uses visceral imagery to invoke terror.
But when you spend the hours I have immersed in it, you really come to appreciate what great writers are out there practicing the horror craft. My goodness, today we all think Edgar Alan Poe was a genius (myself included) but he was simply preying on our emotions and eliciting a fear response in readers. He was writing some of the first American horror stories.
Patch: Horror comes in many shapes and forms, from the campy (i.e. Friday the 13th) to psychological (i.e. Silence of the Lambs), from the “gore porn” (i.e. Hostel) to the paranormal (i.e. Signs). Do you have a favorite subgenre?
Spratford: I am a sucker for a good zombie story. By far, the post-apocalyptic setting where masses of zombies are shambling toward me is my favorite. Interestingly, I like the full range of zombie stories. From a parody like the film Shaun of the Dead, to the TV show and the graphic novel series,The Walking Dead, to a newer, more thoughtful novel like Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies, I love them all.
Have you seen the viral video "Zombie in a Penguin Suit" yet? Check it out. When I wrote my book, my editors even noted that the zombies chapter was the best.
Patch: Is there any sort of element of horror that you try to avoid? For example, I've heard you're not particularly into gratuitous gore.
Spratford: I am OK with blood and guts as long as it serves a purpose. Is it there to ratchet up the fear factor? I really like Brian Keene, who is known in the industry for being an expert at describing the dismemberment of bodies. I do try to avoid horror books with badly drawn characters. No matter what type of book I am reading, I read for character.
I don't have to like the characters, in fact, I love an unreliable narrator, but I need them to be fully fleshed out, nuanced and interesting. Unfortunately, some horror authors rely on stereotypical characters, and add lots of gore so you don't notice that the characters are as thin as the paper they are written on. I try to avoid those.