The Authors That Paved My Way to Horror

Happy long weekend, everyone! Whether it be Labor or Labour, I hope you all are having a lovely time.

 

I wanted to talk about the authors who sparked and cultivated my interested in writing and in the horror genre. I mentioned in my previous blog post that R.L. Stine was a staple for my childhood, as well as Christopher Pike. Another series I was in love with was Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. The combination of creepy, horrifying, and morbidly funny stories with those drawings from hell (Thanks Stephen Gammell) was a perfect concoction to give anyone nightmares. My mom even eventually got me the audio book. Also does anyone remember Bunnicula?

Beyond this, I read a lot of staples that weren’t horror (my mom’s attempt at balancing me out?) like The Boxcar Children series, The Sweet Valley High series, and The Babysitter’s Club. But with all of these, I still mostly preferred the books that delved into the supernatural, even if it turned out to be just a prank or the over active imagination of the main characters.

After devouring most of Stine’s work, I began reaching out for books that were for more mature audiences. My parents didn’t seem to care. My dad is a super avid reader too, preferring books in the fantasy or thriller genres so I often stole his books as well as visiting my local library.

Quick aside as I remember it. I probably had the worst librarian in junior high school. I was taking out 2-3 books a week, reading, returning, and taking out more consistently throughout my time there. In 7th grade, she stopped me and – I kid you not – told me I needed to slow down because I was going to read everything and completely run out of books. Then I would have nothing to read. What kind of a librarian says that to a kid? Did she mean in the library itself, cause at the time, I thought she was trying to imply the whole world. Whatever, aside over.

My mom eventually bought me The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle, which got me into the classical literature like Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and Wuthering Heights.

I was reading Stephen King, James Patterson, and random other authors in junior high. As mentioned, to keep up with my habit, my mom would just buy dozens of books at a thrift store. A family friend, one who was always buying me boatloads of books as well, was more curated in her purchases. She was the one who bought me The Count of Monte Cristo, my favourite novel of all time. She also bought me a lot of folklore collections and fairy tale collections, which spurred my interest in mythology.

Between my mom and my pseudo-aunt, I was eventually introduced to Edgar Allen Poe, Shirley Jackson, and J.R.R. Tolkien among many others. I fell in love with the gothic style and wanted more. In high school, I read mountains of dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels, as was in style. It was only in university that I stumbled into the cosmic world of Lovecraft.

To say that H.P. Lovecraft rocked my world is to under-exaggerate. I had never read anything like it and I was captivated by his descriptions, his weird creatures, and the people who populated his world and were barely able to keep things together.

In the end, I can probably narrow down my writing inspirations (in no particular order) to:

  1. Stephen King. One thing I noticed right away in Cujo, Gerald’s Game, The Shining, and others was the implication of a dark evil that could seep into our world and infect us. In Cujo, it infects the bat that bites the dog. In The Shining it appears in the little boy’s closet threatening him and acting as foreshadowing. His Dark Tower series is what grabbed me at first, I was astounded by how it tied so many of his novels to the same universe, that could be travelled by the ka-tet.
  2. Algernon Blackwood. I read The Willows and was captivated. I’ve since read many of his other stories and his portrayal of vast, wild places uncontrolled by man or even our view of the laws of nature were fascinating. He made the natural unnatural and forced his characters to try and survive, even as they could not comprehend what they were facing.
  3. H.P.Lovecraft. I fell in love with the ever-dreaming Cthulhu. ‘Nuff said.

 

As for today, I still read a lot of classical, Victorian, and gothic fiction as well as newer fiction – re-reading many favourites from King and Lovecraft. Though I can list 3 top influencing authors easily, it would be unfair to say they were the only ones. I’ve read a lot of books and it would be impossible to list every single writer or novel that had a hand in my writing.

 

As always, show the love by sharing using one of the buttons below and feel free to comment with your favourite horror author/novel! I love getting recommendations!

x P.L.McMillan

 

 

5 thoughts on “The Authors That Paved My Way to Horror

  1. Rl Stine and Stephen King were huge inspirations for me too! I remember reading my first Stephen King book at a very questionable age (I think I was 11 or 12?) Needless to say, it changed me haha

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    1. I feel like Stephen King books manage to get into everyone’s life somehow! Do you remember which one?

      I read Everything’s Eventual – which was left at the beach house I stayed at. That’s where I got my very first taste of the Dark Tower series!

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      1. I think Four Past Midnight was my first one, specifically the short story The Langoliers! I loved Everything’s Eventual as well, 1408 and The Road Virus Heads North were my favourites!

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      2. Four Past Midnight was an amazing collection. I also really liked The Langoliers, have you seen the movie they made? It’s pretty rough but really funny! I feel like King’s short stories are on point. He really knows how to craft a tight plot, racing action, and believable characters in such a short medium.

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