Sunday, September 6, 2015

Today's Horror Writers Don't Read Horror! Say What?

In a Facebook discussion about horror, someone had this to say about the horror writers of today:
"Today's horror writers haven't read any horror, only watched it."
I consider myself something of a writer of horror, both poetry and prose, and I've read quite a bit of horror fiction and poetry. I've read classics, such as Bram Stoker's Dracula, H. P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, W. W. Jacobs' "The Monkey's Paw", Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" (one of my all-time favorite poems), John Keats' "La Belle Dame Sans Merci", and the English translation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's "Der Erlkönig", as well as more contemporary material such as Stephen King's It, Salem's Lot, Pet Sematary, and Cycle of the Werewolf. As an artist and illustrator, I've even had a smattering of exposure to current horror fiction those times I've illustrated the works of other horror writers.

To be perfectly honest, I've probably read more horror short stories than horror novels. Over the years, I've read a number of horror fiction anthologies. Some of the horror anthologies in my personal library include:
The Monster Book of Monsters: 50 Terrifying Tales, edited by Michael O'Shaughnessy,
The Book of the Dead: 13 Classic tales of the Supernatural, edited by Alan K. Russell,
100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories, edited by Al Sarrantonio and Martin H. Greenberg,
Great Ghost Stories, selected and arranged by John Grafton,
and the Watermill Classic edition of Midnight Fright: A Collection of Ghost Stories.

I'm particularly fond of the classic "weird tales", and have read a plethora of weird fiction. Though not all weird tales are dark, many are. My personal library includes copies of the anthologies Weird Vampire Tales (edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Martin H. Greenberg, and Robert Weinberg), 100 Wild Little Weird Tales (edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Robert Weinberg and Stefan Dziemianowicz), and The Best of Weird Tales 1923 (edited by Marvin Kaye and John Gregory Betancourt). My personal library also contains just about every volume of Lovecraft's fiction printed by Del Ray/Ballantine Horror in the 1980s (the ones with the superbly creepy cover artworks by Michael Whelan), including The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre.

A good number of the horror writers and poets I've encountered over the past few years appear to be well read. They seem to be able to carry on fairly informed discussions about many of the standards of horror literature. I can't say I know many horror writers who haven't read quite a bit of horror fiction.

What say you, fellow horror writers? Have you read much horror fiction, or do you prefer to watch horror rather than read it?

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