She reviews more books that I would ever be able to since this horror thing is only a part of what I do, so all of you should follow her reviews on Goodreads to stay up to date. She also runs a horror book subscription service, Night Worms, which I will write about more tomorrow, but since she refers to it below, and you might be interested in more information, I wanted mention that today.
Here is Sadie Hartmann on why she loves horror, including a recommendation of a title I featured here and here, and I promise, we 100% did NOT plan that.
My name is Sadie Hartmann, otherwise known as “Mother Horror” on social media. I earned that nickname by luring hundreds of readers to the dark side. *evil laugh*
I read and review horror fiction for a bi-monthly publication called, SCREAM Magazine as well as a publisher of books and magazines called, Cemetery Dance. In my social media circles, it is not uncommon to find fellow lovers of horror fiction but in my everyday life, it’s rare. It’s very, very rare. In fact, when I tell people what I do for a living (Read and review horror books as well as co-own a horror book subscription service called Night Worms) I am almost always met with a small variety of the same reactions: Shock, doubt, confusion and the question-- “Why?”
The why is easy to explain. I’ve been reading horror books my whole life. I was raised on it. My mother reads it and owns a huge library and she encouraged my appetite for it at an early age. At first, I read chapter books for young adults that were spooky or mildly creepy like The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare or all the Lewis Barnavelt series by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey.
But eventually I gravitated towards adult horror and what my mom had available on her shelves, Stephen King, Peter Straub, Anne Rice and classic horror like Dracula and Frankenstein.
So having a childhood affection for the macabre is part of who I am but there’s more to it than that. I’m a timid person and a scaredy cat. I don’t take a lot of physical risks, so outdoor adventuring is not really my thing. I’m far too practical and have a strong sense of self preservation. I also don’t enjoy horror movies. I don’t like jump scares and graphic images that have come from someone else’s messed up imagination. Those kinds of psychological and mental horrors have a lasting effect on me--making me feel uneasy and anxious for days after viewing. But I have discovered the joy of diving into a deep read of horrific things told by talented storytellers. There’s a thrill of having the words leap off the page and do that cinematic dance of images played out in my mind’s landscape. It feels like I’m watching a movie but instead of trusting in a director’s visuals--I get to work in tandem with the author to conjure up my own mental pictures. I’m in control of how terrifying this story will get for me. It’s both tantalizing and thrilling to interact with a book as much or as little as I want to.
Sometimes I let a book completely get a grip on my imagination and I feel every bit of the chilling imagery. Other times, if I’m home alone or something, I can lock it down and only let so much of that get through. For someone who doesn’t venture out beyond their comfort zone too much in real life, horror fiction is my opportunity to do just that in ways that I feel comfortable with. I get to set the pace and the boundaries and the limits. It’s my passion. The last three years I have been reading and reviewing horror, I have worked hard to promote it--the end game is that the authors that I love to read will be able to sell more and more books so they can continue writing and we can continue to enjoy it.
Over the course of about 3 years I have developed professional working relationships with authors, publishers and trade people in the industry but I would also call some of them friends. Those that work in the horror fiction profession are some of the most generous, hard working, friendly people I have ever interacted with. This is another facet of my passion for horror--to serve these individuals as a freelance promoter of their work is a great joy and privilege. I feel like it’s the least I can do to give back to the people who have given me so much by way of hours upon countless hours of reading enjoyment.
Part of this passion has manifested into that horror book subscription service, Night Worms. Every month, my business partner Ashley and I scour the industry and work closely with publishers, editors, authors and agents to bring the best of indie and traditionally published horror to the readers who love it. Sure, this is a business model designed for Ashley and myself to get paychecks but primarily, we use it as a vehicle to get quality “under the radar” horror into the right hands. It has been a pleasure watching readers discover the talents of self or indie published authors like Chad Lutzke or John Boden-both of which are immensely talented and write compelling, authentic coming-of-age stories that are not the typical brand of horror people generally associate with the genre.
John Boden for instance, just wrote this genre-bending novella called WALK THE DARKNESS DOWN that is this Weird-Western-Cosmic-Horror mashup. It’s amazing. I wish he was a household name so everyone could experience it.
Likewise a debut novel called GRIND YOUR BONES TO DUST by Nicholas Day. This is the most terrifying antagonist I have ever read and Day’s storytelling voice is magnetic and fresh--I have never read its equal. (Out October 2019)
Lastly, I love horror that can crossover into a young adult market like THE BONE WEAVER’S ORCHARD by Sarah Read. This book sits comfortably in the subgenre of “Dark Academy”. The young protagonist is an introvert with the quirky habit of collecting bugs. He shows up at a school for boys and finds out that strange things are happening there at night.
It’s a must read! I devoured it.
It’s my goal to make sure good books like these get into the right reader’s hands and don’t get passed over simply because there is no awareness of them. I love horror but it’s my theory that everyone would love it if they read the right books. There’s so much out there.