Cut Your Teeth On These: 10 Horror Books You Must Read.

Everyone is looking for the next best thing. Music producers want men and women with the talent, the dedication and the ability to bring something new to the table. I don’t watch American Idol very often, but when I do watch it, I find the most exciting, most entertaining singers are the ones that channel a raw, intense and dynamic vocal style from singers of the past while putting their own twist on it. There is no doubt these young singers listened to their own idols and tried to capture the voices they heard in their own way. Many of the singers have had vocal training, which is expected and encouraged. But that drive to express themselves with their voices, it started from listening to the singers that came before them. 

 Their inspirations ignite the fire to find themselves. 

 

Son of the Endless Night

 

 

Writing is no different. We practice our craft by being inspired, then trying to capture that magic on the page with our own words. The more we practice, the better we become. Part of that practice is reading. It’s the vicious cycle of writing. To write, we must first read. Fortunately, if you’re writing Horror fiction, there’s plenty to read. When talking to younger writers, it amazes me to find that as well read as they are, they are missing some essential reading material. I’m older, so I do have the advantage of relishing the moments when the books I cut my teeth on were released at the book stores. 

 But just because these books are older, some even out of print, doesn’t mean they should be forgotten. 

 These 10 books represent the essential reading prerequisite for writing Horror Fiction. I learned something about writing with each of these books; the importance of folklore and legends, genre mashups, how to blow up a scene, developing a character to advance the plot, dialogue and crisp writing, it’s all with these books. This is not a Bob’s Favorites List. I don’t know if I can ever complete my own top 10 list, simply because I firmly believe the best books have not been written yet. But if you write Horror Fiction, and you do not know these books, then you might have a little reading to do. Please note, there are no Stephen King books in this list. You should read all of his books if you write Horror, even his shitty books. 

 All of these choices are modern, as in written after the 1960’s, and all are available in some form or another. 

 In no certain order:

 

 Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. The only true ‘Classic’ in the bunch. Levin’s mastery of dialogue is at an all time high in this novel, as is his pacing and plotting. The perfect horror novel, this small tome delivers the scares without ever actually showing you anything. 

 

The Ceremonies by T.E.D. Klein. With the exception of a collection of novellas, this is Klein’s only novel. That doesn’t matter. He didn’t set out to write a Horror novel with this one. Nope, his goal was to write THE Horror Novel, and he succeeded beautifully. An homage to Arthur Machen, Klein leads us into the woods to meet an ancient horror as old as time itself, and it wants to live again. 

 

The Tribe by Bari Wood. I mentioned this book in one of my other blogs, and believe it deserves mention again. Woods takes a legend and makes it personal. Perhaps a little too melodrama for some, but if you want to know how to make folklore and legend scary, start here and learn from one of the best. 

 

The Cipher by Kathe Koja. Koja’s first novel blew the doors off Dell Abyss cutting edge Horror line. There’s a hole, and it seems to be alive. Damn, it bit me. Let’s drop a video camera down in it. Crazy shit here folks, thank God it’s only a story. Long out of print, this book fetches a high price, but perhaps Kathe can get a ereader edition out there one day. 

 

The Damnation Game by Clive Barker. This first novel from Barker immediately proved he had the chops to write beyond the short story and novella. A classic Faustian tale with twists and gore only Barker could write, though written with a wisdom far beyond his splatterpunk brethren. 

 

Floating Dragon by Peter Straub. Mr. Straub stepped out on a limb on this one, combining an ancient evil with a nasty chemical leak that sounds like something from today’s news headlines. This one gets a reread by me every couple of years, and it always amazes me how well it’s stood the test of time. It’s a rare book that has one scene, a snippet really, with imagery so strong that it has fueled many a nightmare, even twenty plus years after the first read. 

 

Seeing Red by David J. Schow. The only collection in this list, but it is a must read. Schow coined the term ‘splatterpunk’, but this is so much more than that. Schow is smart, real smart, and it shows. His ability to change voices, conjure up descriptions that defy gravity, and still manage to make you throw up a little in your mouth, and like it, places him at the top of my list of most influential writers. Long out of print, this book popped up recently for the Kindle at $2.99, a steal if you ask me.

 

The Parasite by Ramsey Campbell. One of the most awarded and celebrated authors of my early years, copies of Campbell’s The Parasite are usually quite expensive. Recently rereleased in a limited special edition, I think the price was around $500.00. It’s probably more than that now. Find it used and have it shipped, so worth the money. Campbell’s tale of spirit possession, conspiracy theories and nazi occultists. I will admit this book starts a little slow after the prologue, but if you can hang in there, Campbell has some nightmares he like to start for you.

 

Son of the Endless Night by John Farris. One of the most underrated writers of Horror Fiction, Farris slayed me with this book, if only for one long scene. Definitely one of the greatest ‘what if’ moments in Horror Fiction, Farris gives us a demon possessed man in a courtroom. Let me just say this isn’t The Devil’s Advocate by a long shot. 

 

The Keep  by F. Paul Wilson. Vampires, with a twist. Well researched and very scary, this is the book that made me a F. Paul Wilson fan forever. He captures the atmosphere, both figuratively and literally, expertly, and his pacing is impeccable. Kinda out of print, but now a Kindle edition is out for $2.99. What a steal. 

 

There you have it peeps, these are the essentials. Cut your teeth on these, and you’ll soon be inspired to sing with the masters. 

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2012: The Year of the Bat-Dragon

Happy New Year!

Talk about late, huh.

The Christmas and New Year season taps my creativity. There’s just too much stuff to do, plus the Daily Grind is typically busy as Hell during December. I’m not going blame my absence or lack of creativity on Skyrim or Batman: Arkham City. Okay, okay, so I am going to blame it on those two games. Deal with it.

So what’s in store for Obscuradrome this year? Let me start by saying WriterDrome is coming back, hopefully this month. Expect some guest posts there as well. Don’t know who the guests will be, but the good news is that some of them don’t know either. I’m working on Sirens this year for Write Club 2012, as well as a couple of novellas and some short stories. 2011 was a stellar year for me publishing wise, so I hope to repeat my successes again this year. And as always, I’ll be promoting (pimping) my friends successes as well, so be prepared.

Okay, back to reading/writing for me, see you guys real soon.

Bob.

SEO Spambot Rant/A New Booked Podcast

Lately I’ve received a lot of comments and emails wanting to help me make my website more SEO (Search Engine Optimized). The comments here are from Spambots, which are teeny tiny robots that crawl over unsuspecting computer users keyboards and send out annoying emails. I think this is how Cyberdyne Systems finally envisioned the T-800. These teeny tiny robots, or bots as they like to be called, are actually little tiny Terminators that beg you to check out their website. Upon clicking the link, tiny Terminators use Time Displacement Equipment to warp over to your computer. These little Arnold’s are so small you can’t see them with the naked eye, but they are there. Anyway, when you click the link, the page flips and you are presented with a basic advertisement explaining all the ways you can pay to become more SEO.

Yawn.

When you try to leave the page by using the back button, this is when the Arnold’s take over. A small window pops up and asks: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO CLOSE THIS WINDOW? CLICK OKAY TO…blah, blah, blah, you know the rest. Fortunately, the other Terminator, the good Arnold, comes to the rescue and allows you to just close your browser. “You have been terminated.” It’s annoying, but at least you’re no longer trapped in Skynet. I swear I heard good Arnold yelling at me the other night, “Get down! Run, run to the mouse! Close your browser if you want to live!”

Seriously, this is one of the pitfalls if you run a website. Unavoidable, but certainly not something you have to break down and throw money at. I’ve been blessed with a rare last name that makes me SEO…YAY for me. But say, what about someone with a common name, like Richard Thomas? In Richard’s case, not only is his name kinda common, but is easily confused with the guy from the Walton’s who played Hank Williams Jr in that TV movie. So what did Richard do? His website is called, http://www.whatdoesnotkillme.com. You search that with Google, and you’re going to get Richard Thomas, once you pass the two Friedrich Nietzsche links, of course. Richard’s not going to upstage Nietzsche for sure, but here’s hoping. I use Obscuradrome, which literally means Dark Arena, as the name of my website, and it gets visitors here just fine.

Use your noggin, think of something original, make sure you search it thoroughly, and use it as your tag to make your website SEO. That way you will be able to Terminate the bad Arnold’s and sleep good at night, forever SEO.

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Speed readers Livius Nedin and Robb Olson at Booked review Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer’s new book, Plugged, which is not a children’s book. Also, next week, the guys interview Donald Ray Pollock who is certainly SEO. To check out this weeks book review, just click right here. Don’t worry, this is a bad Arnold free zone.

David Boyer Just Published a Story YOU Wrote!

Now, that I’ve got you full attention, allow me to explain. Apparently, this David Boyer cat, who uses several pseudonyms, can’t write. I mean like is untalented, as in probably the most rejected author ever. All my friends know that if I don’t have anything nice to say about anyone, I tend to keep my mouth shut, and I definitely don’t use my blog as a pulpit for public flogging, but sometimes you hear about someone who deserves it. So Here. We. Go.

What this David Boyer, or David Doc Byron as he calls himself sometimes, does is find stories published in print or online, changes the character names and a few trivial details, and presents it as his own, which is illegal. Plagiarism is like the worst thing you can ever do if you call yourself a writer. It’s much rarer than you think, so when it truly happens, it tends to stick out like a sore thumb.

Face it, if you steal something that’s been published, say a horror story, and you present it as your own to another magazine and get it published, don’t you think someone, somewhere out there in the world with similar tastes is going to read your stolen story and think, “Hmmm, this sounds so familiar, deja vu?”

Sue Him, you cry. Well, according to many sources, suing him would be like getting blood from a turnip. The guy is broke.

What can we do, you ask? That’s the easy part. Someone found a way to press Criminal Charges against this loser. Click on the link below and read author Brian Keene’s piece about the guy. You DO NOT have to live in Indiana to participate. As a writer, I can tell you this is probably one of the most horrifying things that can happen to you. To find out that a story you slaved over for hours, days, weeks, sometimes months or years and is now tagged with someone else’s byline, someone who didn’t do a thing other than copy and paste your story and change a character’s name, well…that just sucks, period.

Please take the time to send an email or a letter and lets stop this thief for good.

Here’s the link: David Boyer is a Bag of Fuck – Brian Keene.

Keeping Up With The Skankashians.

I think I’ve been doing it all wrong. Somewhere along the line, I convinced myself that I need to get up early in the morning, go to a job, and work. I don’t think I’m alone in this, because I know all the other people I see in their cars early in the morning aren’t just riding around for the fun of it. They must have a purpose in mind, because they are all driving too fast for just a little morning drive around the block. There’s determination in their eyes, at least when they are not talking on the phone or texting behind the wheel. In this world of Have vs. HaveNots, I’m definitely in the Havenot category, so to Have the few possessions I call my own, I must go to a job and make money. This is a tried and true tradition that’s been going on for a long time, at least the last couple of decades anyway. 

There are a few, privileged, people in this world that HaveNOT a clue what work is. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say: Wish that was me. Seriously. You hear those people on TV that just won the $30 million lottery say they’re going to keep on working? They’re stupid. Work is overrated. If I won $30 million in the lottery, you can know that I plan on never doing anything close to work again, ever. If I was born privileged, I wouldn’t work either.

But I wasn’t born privileged, so it’s off to work I go.

Reality TV is one field you can get in and never have to work again. Apparently, the creative juices in TV world dried up about fifteen-twenty years ago, because other than the occasional gem like Seinfeld, or The Office, or even AMC’s Breaking Bad, there’s really nothing else to watch on TV but reality TV shows. This is a direct reflection of exactly how low we’ve sunk collectively to be entertained, and…and, what’s even more sickening, is how fast the studio execs in TV world have grasped this little faucet of information and pumped it all directly into our brains.

We’ve been dumbed-down, selectively, and on purpose. Case in point: Kim Kardashian. I thought about writing a nice big fat juicy paragraph about her rise to fame, with all it’s trials and tribulations, but I figured I might just list all her big fat juicy talents for you, that way you can see for yourselves.

Kim’s talents:

And that’s about it, in a nutshell. What? There’s nothing there? Why of course there’s nothing there in the list, silly. Were you expecting a big fat juicy list of all the talents she has, accompanied by a big fat juicy explanation of why I think they’re important, perhaps a big fat juicy slew of footnotes down at the bottom of the page where I credit all my references? Please don’t get me wrong, the girl is gorgeous, but so is the girl who lives in the apartment three doors down from me, and the girl who rang up my purchases at the store last night, and the girl who took my money when I went out to the club last weekend. There are three thing’s that makes Kim a star. 1) She grew up privileged. She grew up a Have, and did her best to stay away from the HaveNots. 2) A sex tape put her on the radar. Take away the money and put that on your resume, see how fast you wish you wouldn’t have said those famous words: Turn the camera on. 3) Her butt.

A sex tape and her big fat juicy butt and money from the family. Skanky-Money-Butt. Sounds like the title of a reality TV show. Kim’s Skanky-Money-Butt, only on E!

Talent? Kim has no talent, but many will keep watching her on TV, in her pseudo-real world which is called Reality TV, wondering why they can’t be like her, a superstar. TV world has taken someone with absolutely nothing to offer and turned her into a star, and people are eating it up, and have been eating it up, and will continue to eat it up. Have we sunk so low that we are all envious of nothing but air and a big fat juicy butt? 

So you want to get out of working for a living? Want to be a superstar, but you’ve got no talent? No problem, here’s how you do it. Grow up privileged. A Have, not a HaveNot, make a sex tape, and get yourself a big fat juicy butt. Those three things will get you a Reality TV show and all the attention you could ever want for the rest of your life, or at least until people grow tired of watching you be a no-talent ass-clown. As for me, I’m going to continue working just like everyone else, and writing, practicing my talent, honing my skills. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to write for money and that will be my new job. Until then, just know that you won’t be seeing me on any reality TV show anytime soon. 

WriterDrome: Attack of The Side Project(s)/Booked Podcast Review of The Last Werewolf

WriterDrome is a monthly ongoing discussion concerning the mechanics and logistics of writing Horror, Speculative, Dark Fantastic, and Noir Fiction. The aim here is to discuss the many dynamics necessary to write, edit and publish these genres in a continuously changing landscape. Remember, opinions mentioned here are just that, opinions. I’m no expert, but I’ve been writing for a long time, and I feel there is a lot I can pass on to my fellow writers. Lively discussion is highly encouraged.

Attack of The Side Project(s)

Sometimes a writing project gets the best of you. Every writer has folders and folders full of unfinished stories and ideas that somehow slipped into the ether. This is normal, very much akin to creating a playlist of music. I have about twenty different playlists in itunes, all for whatever mood I’m in whenever I’m listening. Is one playlist better than another? No, but sometimes one playlist can sound more appealing than another. Sometimes, you want to listen to nothing but Pink Floyd, or The Eagles, and sometimes you just want to blare Black Label Society or Judas Priest. What you’re feeling has a direct correlation on what writing project you want to work on.

And then there’s the writing project that hangs around like a lover you’ve grown bored with. (God forbid we get bored with our lovers. But then again…) I’ve been working on Blood Junkies for two years now, which is not a big deal. I write slow. Read slow, write slow, always have. Not that I don’t have tremendous bursts of creativity every once in a while and crank out 5000 words in a sitting, or 20000 words in five days like I did the last time I took a week off from work. Two years is a long time, and the story has morphed into something that fits better as a series than a stand alone novel. I’m okay with that. There’s this closeness you get to a project, however, that I feel can be both nurturing and dangerous all at once. Nurturing in that you want to cultivate the characters and tweak the inner-workings to make the story tick like a hand-crafted Swiss watch, and dangerous in that you’ve let your characters take over and they are leading the words you type down a path of self destruction from which you cannot return. There’s no way to gauge which way you’re leaning, every writer is different.

A good way to tell if the story has turned stale is you suddenly have ideas completely not related to what you’re working on. Of course, if you’re a writer, you’re going to have ideas hit you all the time, that’s normal and expected. Most you can file away on the backburner and let them cook for a little while. They’re just ideas, springboards for stories you may or may not write later. Ocassionally one or more ideas will start to burn a little, and before you know it, it’s all you’re thinking about. Forget the project you have dedicated two years of your life for, this new idea is burning, growing in size and shape and suddenly…

ATTACK OF THE SIDE PROJECT!

This is scary. You’ve grown bored with your lover and met someone new. Your mouth turns dry, your heart pounds, and no matter how wrong you know it is,  you can’t stop thinking about this new idea. As the idea burns, other ideas begin to grow next to it, then it forms a story. This story is so hot and sexy, and so refreshing that now you’ve forgotten about your old lover. It’s time for someone new.

I used to force these thoughts away. I’m a single man, but have always found it difficult to juggle a couple of women at once. One of the girls always turn out to be the favorite, and the others become heartbroken and upset once they find out. Stories are almost like this, yet thankfully they are not. You can’t break your story’s heart. Sometimes it’s just as easy to realize that maybe your old story has grown tired of you as well.

Prolific writer Stephen Graham Jones recently completed a novel in thirteen (13) days. A Novel. Thirteen days. Talk about striking while the iron was hot. I’m not sure if he felt the Attack of The Side Project here, or if he was between writing projects, but nonetheless, he was inspired to write, and continued writing until he finished the project. Whether he was “Attacked” or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that sometimes inspiration strikes, and you must act. I guess seeing what he did inspired me as well. Though I’m smack dab in the middle of a writing project as well as a couple of short stories, I’ve been inspired by inspiration, if that makes sense. I’ve been Attacked, and I’m acting on it. Should I worry about Blood Junkies getting a little nervous about this romantic tryst? Should I fear her jealousy? Frankly, it doesn’t matter. Perhaps she’s grown tired of her author, and means to spend a little time with her friends, just hanging out and chilling, knowing that one day soon, I’ll come running back, and we can take off right where we left off.

So don’t become discouraged because another story is knocking on your door. If struck by inspiration, and the urge is strong enough, act on it and write. Sometimes it’s much better to date around before settling on your true love. 
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Livius Nedin and Robb Olson at Booked review Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf, and I must say this is a book I am very keen on reading. Taking a well-worn concept like werewolves and infusing new life into the subject matter by making it rather serious and smart surely was a daunting task, though I understand Mr. Duncan was probably one of the best writers for the job. Take some time to give the review a listen by clicking right here.

Warmed And Bound Podcast Wrap Up Round Up

They’re back! Livius Nedin and Robb Olson, the two uber cool cats at Booked wrap up the Neo-Noir anthology Warmed And Bound sessions with a final podcast, featuring their correspondent from the Netherlands, Mlaz Corbier. The guys run down their favorite stories in the collection while Mlaz makes the usually very serious Livius crack up. Mlaz is hillarious, as usual, and absolutely nothing is safe from his scorching commentary. Livius and Robb finally break Mlaz down and get him to divulge a little information about Jimmy Viper. So grab a chair and a beverage and click right here to listen to the podcast.