As Marc’s been looking towards our first batch of acquisitions (news coming soon!), it’s been very clear there’s a brewing trend for a next wave of horror writers out there. It’s something that mills around in publishing circles, where we keep on waiting for the great resurgence of commercially successful horror writing after the halcyon days of the 80s. And we keep on talking about it, but still it doesn’t come back!
And here we are, of course on the one day per year when everyone’s thinking horrific thoughts in the glorious pagan-capitalist tradition that is Halloween.
So where are the books?
Well, if anyone out there hasn’t read Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box yet, then get busy – Stephen King’s son is the real deal: contemporary, accessible, thrilling and psychologically astute. He could really go on to be something special.
But why not go back to his dad for some ghoulish kicks?
I hadn’t read any King for about 15 years til I picked up The Stand again in February this year. The story of a deadly virus and the coming of a dark saviour, The Walkin’ Dude, to try and destroy forever/rebirth the world, is a typically unusual King story, where the level of horror is much much less than you expect than the level of casual, but quite brilliant descriptions of everyday people (Joe the Plumbers, pretty much), their relationships and traumas.
What I found rereading King was that amidst the schlock – and there is plenty – there was an acuteness which is really terrifying. It’s the way King works that trope of the everyday gone terribly wrong which has become the stock in trade of Patterson-type thrillers – he normalises and normalises the events so they lose the portentousness which kills most horror writing. Then when the ghouls come out it comes alive, burning with dark energy.
So check out Joe Hill and hope for his future – but go back to the man who led the last great wave.