Horror Authors You Should Give a Shot
When it comes to the literary world horror has always been popular, and those that write in the genre can become immortal among both mainstream readers as well as those who love all things scary. From names like; Edgar Allen Poe, HP Lovecraft, and Richard Matheson to more contemporary writers such as Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Dean Koontz; writing tales that terrify can gain you great notoriety. But as with anything their are those who have mastered literary skills who have not achieved the level of fame that they should. So if you are looking to broaden your horizons next time you go to the library or your local book store I would recommend a few of these talented scribes to try out.
Jack Ketchum: The writer heralded by Stephen King himself as being the “scariest guy in America”, and when you have a title like that you best live up to it, which Ketchum does in every disturbing and troubling thing he writes. What sets Jack Ketchum apart from the others in his peers, that he eschews; vampires, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures and opts for monsters who are all too human. His books and short stories are troubling for many readers because of the raw realism of his monsters who are the kind of people you could encounter on any given day. From the sociopathic spoiled brats in Red to the psychotic mother who tortures children in The Girl Next Door (based on a horrifying true story). Ketchum pulls no punches in his quest to truly terrify readers and cause them to think on the basic nature of good and evil.
John Saul: If the continued popularity legends like Sleepy Hollow and other popular tales are any proof, there will always be an audience for good old gothic ghost stories set in the heart of America, and since 1977 John Saul has been the master of such stories. Debuting with Suffer the Children he has only gotten better with age. He has been criticized for writing too often about ghostly children and dark gothic settings; but perhaps it is because he is so incredibly good at those kinds of stories that he has no peer and each one of these tales is distinctly different in theme and plot. Take for example Hellfire an incredibly creepy tale about a little girl and her “imaginary friend”, it is a brilliant take on a classical ghost story, that is subtle yet terrifying in its horror, anchored by incredibly well-developed and intriguing characters.
Sarah Langan: Smart AND terrifying are a dangerous combination, but this is the combo which Sarah Langan possesses. She burst onto the scene a few years ago with The Keeper which earned her no short amount of praise and acclaim. There was a great risk of her becoming a one hit wonder, but Langan continues to churn out terrifying books such as the horrifying tale of a woman on the run from her past, Audrey’s Door. With Audrey’s Door having been optioned by the Weinsteins to be adapted to film, look for big things in the future from Langan.
Greg Kihn: A name known well among fans of 80’s music for his hits; The Break-Up Song and Jeopardy which were in constant airplay during the decade of excess. But now among his many other hobbies, this modern day Renaissance man, writes horror tales with a vintage B-Movie feel that would make Roger Corman proud. Featuring an incredibly intriguing cast of characters; including amoral filmmaker Landis Woodley from Horror Show as well as Woodley’s cousin the mellow musician, Bo Young in Mojo Hand. Kihn’s tales of terror from a bygone era are an absolute blast and almost impossible to put down.
Kathe Koja: If you want to read one of the most imaginative and terrifying books you will ever find, look no further than Koja’s award winning, The Cypher. A twisted and macabre Alice in Wonderland-esque story which established her as one of the top writers in her field. But make no mistake Koja is no one-hit wonder as she has proven with her works such as the hauntingly beautiful and twisted look at the art world in Skin.
Robert McCammon: It may be difficult to believe that an author who won the Bram Stoker Award three years in a row, and was at one point seen as an equal to Stephen King, would be on a list of underrated authors, but McCammon unfortunately fell off the radar after a white hot streak of best sellers when he took close to a decade off. During the 1980’s McCammon terrified readers with brilliant and imaginative tales of horror such as; Baal and They Thirst which dominated the best seller lists. Sadly his earlier books may be difficult to find due to being out of print, but he is now back with a vengeance with a series of historical tales of terror featuring the character Matthew Corbett, hopefully this will lead to him finally receiving his due to spot in the pantheon of great horror authors.