Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#63) -- Reading Horror

Which horror books are your favorites?

The Tell-Tale Heart (1912) by
Martin van Maële,
engraved by Eugène Dété.
All of my favorite horror stories are the ones I read in my teenage years, much like most of my favorite music is what I loved growing up as a teen. Maybe that makes me different, or maybe we all tend to run back in nostalgia to re-embrace the stuff that helped to form our loves.

Regardless, my favorite short horror remains that of Poe. He just still creeps me out. Something about the way his writing style comes across like a drug-induced trip (or so I'm guessing, mom). In more recent years, I (finally) discovered Lovecraft, but his stuff doesn't scare me as much as it makes me ponder. And Algernon Blackwood is quickly rising up the ranks as well.

For contemporary authors, nobody gives me the heebie-jeebies like Robert Freese. His  images aren't gory as much as they are disturbing. There have been several times I've had to put his book down and rattle the images from my fevered brain lest I ponder the unthinkable. And that's (in my mind anyway) the mark of a gifted horror writer.

Can I eat your
little boy, ma'am?
For novels, it's still a tie between King's Christine, Cujo, and Pet Semetary. Of his works, those are the ones that really make me check under the bed, or around the corner, or take a second look inside the car beside me at the traffic light. It probably didn't help that I read Cujo a few years after my younger brother got a permanent scar from a dog bite on his upper lip. Go figure.

I have also rediscovered King's short fiction through my son, Jack, who is greedily devouring every King book he can get his hands on. The story "N," in particular, gave ADD-OCD me no end of freaky dreams and read like a trip inside my brain. No lie. The idea of good numbers and bad number. I SO GET THAT. Just ask me to tell you about it some time when we meet at a convention. Then have a seat. It could take a while.