Posts Tagged ‘Poe’

I’ve long been a reader of stories that scare the hell out of people.  My first horror story was Robert Lory’s “The Beat of Leather Wings”. It had me up all night with the lights on at the age of nine.  It was one of a number of equally scream-inducing short stories in a fantastic 1975 paperback titled “Boris Karloff Presents More Tales of the Frightened” which I checked out one fateful Friday afternoon from the school library. Now, what a book like that was doing in a Catholic elementary school library I have no idea but to the imaginative librarian who decided it belonged on those shelves, sir or madam, whoever you are – I salute you.

From then on, if a book had dismembered limbs, ghostly figures, or an unusually large amount of blood on the cover, I read it. If the title included the words “vampire”, “zombie”, “ghost” or “unholy terror”, it was on my top ten list. Edgar Allan Poe, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, John Saul, Peter Straub, Richard Matheson – my go-to team. 

My fascination with horror stories isn’t based entirely on how MUCH they scare me but more HOW they scare me.  A horror writer takes all the familiar elements of a story – setting, characters, mood, dialogue, plot – and twists and slashes and dumps them in a cauldron, stokes up the brimstone and brings them to a boil. Finding the right ingredients for a blood-curdling brew can be a challenge these days when reality is sometimes scarier than anything a King or a Poe or a Matheson could scream up.  

I’m working on a short horror story myself these days, what I hope will end up to be a delightfully dark little tale called “Jingle”.  While the cauldron’s more on simmer than boil at the moment, now might be the time for my group of readers to catch a few extra Z’s.  Because hopefully after they read it, the lights will be burning all night long.

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