Yes, kids. The 2012 Howloween Blog Hop is drawing to a close today. I hope you’ve had as much fun as myself and the other authors. It’s always my privilege to share my work with all of you in the hopes that you’ll enjoy enough to take a chance on my work, but also to connect with new folks and let you know a bit about me. Today, I thought it might be appropriate to share some of my favorite Halloween reads.
1. Pet Sematary by Stephen King: This was my very first introduction to true horror fiction. I remember that the movie was coming out and the book had been re-released in paperback. It was everywhere. Being a young darkling, I begged my mother to let me read it. After weeks she finally relented and it remains one of my favorite books of all time. If you haven’t read it, it’s the story of Louis Creed and his family who move into a sleepy little New England town. They’re seemingly the perfect family—the doctor, his devoted wife and their two adorable children. Of course there’s an underlying darkness there with past marital turmoil and such, as in most Stephen King books. It all begins when the daughter’s cat is killed in the road and the Creeds’ kindly neighbor lets Louis in on a dark little town secret. The mythology of the place is so well-constructed that the town itself is a character. And though no one has ever mentioned it—the character of Jud is pure genius. Jud manages to give out a lot of information without being an information dump. He is both a catalyst for the evil to wield, but also one of the only pure “lawful good” characters in the book. As always, King’s attention to detail gets you into the story and even though it’s a horror novel, you really care about the characters. They aren’t just kill fodder.
2. Dracula by Bram Stoker: How can you be a horror writer or even just a goth if you’ve never read this book? Dracula wasn’t the first vampire novel, but it was the first that gave us the archetypes that we now hold near and dear to our hearts. The entire novel is written as diary entries and letters, which at first don’t seem very foreboding, but as the story goes on and the notes grow darker, the reader is drawn into the world Stoker creates. It makes the horror closer, somehow. It also plays on that universal fear of being out of control. Mina loves Jonathan Harker, but she can’t resist the call of Dracula. She is out of control of her senses. And of course, once one becomes a vampire, they are slaves to their bloodlust.
3. The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe: Let’s keep it goin’ old skool here with some Edgar Allan Poe. I couldn’t choose just one story or poem to highlight, so I’ve made the decision not to decide. If you have a prayer of writing a horror story, a paranormal romance, a thriller or an adventure—you must put Poe on your reading list. Most people think he was this brooding hack who drank himself to death, bitter and alone. And to a point that’s true. He was the original goth. If Stephen King is the master of characterization, Poe is the master of atmosphere and mood. His words paint such a vivid picture and he literally manipulates the reader to feel however he wants with those words. I remember reading “The Raven” the first time and feeling the apprehension that the narrator does as he approaches the door. What would be behind it? What was that rapping on the chamber door? I remember screaming in my head “Don’t open it, you idiot!” And then of course, “The Tell-Tale Heart” is such a good trick because your heart is actually beating faster as you plow toward the inevitable ending. It gives me shivers just thinking about it.
4. Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison: Look, however you feel about Ellison as a person you have to admit he’s a fucking genius. He’s mostly known for floating in that upper echelon of sci-fi writers, but he can spin a good horror story when it’s called for. One story in the collection that I’m particularly fond of is “Bleeding Stones” about the gargoyles on St. Patrick’s Cathedral coming to life. The descriptions are deliciously grotesque. It’s like a primer on “how to gross out your readers.”
5. Duma Key by Stephen King: I had to give another nod to Uncle Steve for the last in my horrific Halloween reads. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I hate winter. I don’t like cold weather and I tend to get depressed. And though Halloween isn’t in winter, it puts me in mind of how I always try to find some good books that help me escape the dark months. Last year, I read Duma Key. I thought it would be nice since the whole thing takes place on an island off the coast of Florida where it’s warm, even in January. Folks, it’s one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read. Now, it’s dense. You have to be willing to dive in with both feet and not come up for air for a good long while, but it’s so worth it. It follows the story of a man whose life has fallen apart after a terrible accident. He’s got some brain damage going on and so he often forgets things—even what words go with what objects. He goes to The Key with the intention of committing suicide, but he manages to find a new life there and some terrifying secrets. If you love a good ghost story, this one is just extreme. Perfection.
Well, kids… it’s been fun hangin’ with ya the last few days. I’ve made some new friends and I hope added some new followers. Please feel free to comment, pop over and see me on Facebook, or who knows– maybe we’ll even get to meet sometime. I’ll be at several Cons this year and I’d love to see you. Don’t forget! I’ll be announcing the winner of the pdf copies on Halloween Night, so keep checkin’ back! Until we meet again…
If I’ve piqued your interest or if you just want to come point and laugh, I can be found at the following locales: