Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to spend a few minutes with me to discuss one of my favorite subjects, classic horror, with our Night Worms Friends!
WE: What’s up everybody! Thanks for the opportunity to talk more about paperback horror! I’ve been writing about vintage horror on my blog Too Much Horror Fiction for over 10 years. I hope I can direct you to some good reading material!
First things first let’s get some hard-hitting questions out of the way with a friendly game of Either/Or
Coffee or Tea? Coffee always, lots of cream, lots of sugar
Morning Person or Night Owl? Morning Person with lots of coffee!
City or Country? A little of both
Hot or Cold? Cold
Hardcover or Paperback...that’s a trick question because we all know (or should) that you are the king of the greatest paperback (s) from Hell collection on the planet!
Any chance we might ever see a part 2 from yourself and Mr. Hendrix; Grady, that is?
WE: I feel like we really covered (no pun intended) the vintage era of horror paperbacks really well in the book, so I don’t think there will be a Part II. Grady has done some performance sequels, called Think of the Children, in which he discusses the young adult boom of the later 1990s, Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, and the like. I have never read any of those, they were coming out when I was already in college! Grady is braver than I am when it comes to wading into YA horror lit… However, Valancourt Books, who’s had great success with their Paperbacks from Hell line of reprints, will still be republishing some interesting titles in the upcoming months under the PfH banner. That is a work in progress.
That’s very exciting news! I cannot wait to see what is in store with the Valencourt reprints!
Okay, last one! Book or Movie?
WE: Definitely book. I can think of only a couple instances where a movie is better than the book it’s based on. Obviously Jaws tops that list! More often I feel book and movie complement one another. The Exorcist is about even, I think; book and movie are essential for the horror fan. Same goes for The Silence of the Lambs. Clive Barker’s Hellbound Heart should be read by anyone who loves Hellraiser, same for his novella Cabal which became Nightbreed. Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg which Angel Heart is based on. Interview with the Vampire. The Shining, of course. Psycho is an interesting read but I do think the movie is better. Oh, the Harvest Home tv-movie with Bette Davis! That was very good. Netflix's Haunting of Hill House was pretty great in how it reinterpreted Shirley Jackson’s original--but the novel must be read by every horror fan. And while I love Dracula and Frankenstein, I don’t think they’ve ever been quite faithfully adapted for the screen--maybe that’s a good thing? Read the books for the real stories!
Since we have comfortably segued into books let's talk classics! With a horror persuasion of course!
What makes a book a classic for you?
WE: A classic is a book in which every component works, from prose style to narrative structure, character, dialogue, incident, spookiness, insight, all that stuff. Pulp horror has to be fun with a take-no-prisoners approach; it can’t just be gore for gore’s sake. Classics are re-readable, because the reader always finds or learns something new missed the first time around. That’s the nature of art. Even when you know the ending, the twist or the reveal, the journey is what’s important.
I’d Like to get a taste for some of your favorite classic horror novels. Specifically your TOP 5!
This is difficult! I have to cheat first and go with short fiction:
Books of Blood, vols. I-VI, by Clive Barker (1984). I cannot stress how important these short stories are. Barker is in a class by himself. Simply: if you haven’t read Books of Blood, you haven’t read horror.
At the Mountains of Madness, by H.P. Lovecraft (1936) His masterwork, the culmination of all he’d done before. He even begins to show some empathy for the technological achievements of the Old Ones!
Anno Dracula, by Kim Newman (1994). An alternate history novel that supposes: what if Dracula won? Newman mixes real and fictional horrors to perfection. Simply a great read!
Floating Dragon, by Peter Straub (1984). Towering, epic ‘80s horror. Bears many similarities with King’s IT, but came out a few years before!
The House Next Door, by Anne Rivers Siddons (1978). Modern-world horror in which the house in question is a newly-built one. Siddons knows her characters terrifyingly well.
And one alternate: I’m always going to tout Kathe Koja’s 1991 experimental grunge-horror classic The Cipher. Nothing else like it in classic horror (whether that’s a good thing or bad is up to the individual reader). Blew my mind when it came out. It will finally be back in print this fall from Meerkat Press!
Thank you for sharing those titles with us! Those are some amazing selections!! I am sure there are growing TBR’s everywhere right now!
Before I let you go, what are you currently reading?
WE: I am reading Dearest by Peter Loughran from 1983 and By Reason of Insanity by Shane Stevens from 1979. Both are very good, very dark thrillers that are horror-adjacent and I hope to have reviews of them up soon on my blog Too Much Horror Fiction!
Of course, we’ll log on to check those out! Thank you again for spending some time with me today! I look forward to chatting again soon! This was fun!
Will Errickson is the co-author of the Stoker Award winning Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of the 70’s and 80’s Horror Fiction (2017) from Quirk Books and has been blogging since 2007 with the creation of the very successful Horror Fiction Blogspot, Too Much Horror Fiction. He resides in Portland, OR
Kami is a self-proclaimed nerd, nostalgia junkie, a horror aficionado and enthusiast. When she’s not cosplaying, or reading she is busy keeping up with her YouTube channel and guest spotting on blogs proudly raving about horror. She has been a NightWorm contributor since 2018. She resides on the Hellmouth in AZ.