So the other day I did a #Nerdy9th over on G+ about Horror.
I’ve read horror pretty much as long as I’ve been reading. I seem to recall being in 1st or 2nd grade when I found my first spooky stories book. My folks were really into true ghost stories, so I read a lot of those. By 3rd grade I’d ripped through my mother’s copies of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and Alfred Hitchcock’s anthology “mystery” magazine. I put mystery in quotes there, because really most of his mysteries were thinly disguised horror.
And I loved all of it.
I’ve mentioned before that at 7 or 8 my Dad gave me an anthology that included Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” Bradbury’s “The Veldt,” and Asimov’s “Nightfall.” (Do not read the novel that was written with Robert Silverberg. It is a FAR better short story.) My father is a notorious maker of poor decisions.
I still have several of the books that scared the shit out of me as a child, including that one. One notable collection includes the books: Some Things Dark and Dangerous, Some Things Strange and Sinister, and Some Things Fierce and Fatal. My mom bought these for me when I had knee surgery at the end of 6th grade.
I also still have my copy of Monster Madness which was the book that introduced me to Bradbury’s Family Stories, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Around that same time I raided my mom’s bookshelves for her copy of Carrie by Stephen King. I had already been reading her Clare McNally books prior to that. And that’s a name you don’t hear often in horror circles anymore. What About the Baby?, Ghost House, Ghost House Revenge and Ghost Light. I also read a lot of VC Andrews around this time, including Flowers in the Attic and My Sweet Audrina. Just a warning, her books have a LOT of rape and incest in them. Also, she’s been dead since the late 80s/early 90s, I can’t remember exactly since when, and they keep putting out books with her name on them.
All throughout this time period, my horror reading also encompassed a lot of the old gothic horror stories, like “Carmilla” by Sheridan LeFanu, several short stories by Bram Stoker, and Dracula, and pretty much anything spooky I could get my hands on.
Because, as I kid, I had time on my hands, particularly as somewhat of a social outcast, I read a lot. A LOT. Honestly, if we’d had Kindle technology when I was younger, we would have gone broke, and I would have read everything on it as I got it. I used to love John Sauland Mary Higgins Clark, whose mysteries skirted the edge of horror more than a little. And Anne Rivers Siddon has taken the occasional detour into horror, as well.
Now, I tend to be a little more selective. I really enjoy James A. Moore, I like Douglas Clegg, and I’m exploring more horror by female authors. Kelly Link isn’t generally considered horror, but a lot of her stories have horror elements. Angela Carter is a constant in my rotation. Shirley Jackson is good.
But because my time is much more precious, I have so very much going on, I tend to be more likely to quit books. I used to pride myself on finishing every book I started, until two books broke me of that. One was a novel called The Black School, which I had thought was an homage to Manly Wade Wellman’s short story/novella of the same name. And was emphatically not. I nope-d out of it at the sexualized description of a five year old by a character that was not, ostensibly, a pedophile. And Portrait of the Serial Killer as a Young Woman, which got police procedures and policies regarding investigations, let alone investigations of a serial killer so wrong I could not read it without yelling obscenities. I mean, A+ for having a female serial killer, but F- on research.
I’m not linking those because they are bad, and if you want to find them, you can do that on your own time.
Anyway, several people have asked if reading all this horror contributes to my chronic nightmares, in a “well, duh,” tone of voice.
Truth is, it doesn’t. I have always had nightmares, the earliest dreams I can remember from before I could read are nightmares. Reading horror just curates the nightmares so I at least know where that shit comes from.
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