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13 Days of Horror!

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By Terry Fleming • September 30, 2023

Hello Boils and Ghouls! The Thrift Keeper here (named for my devilish ability to find the Best Bargains among Blood-Curdling titles!), and today I'd like to talk to you about the importance of OCTOBER. For the first 13 days of this most gruesome of months (yes, leading up to Friday the 13th), ReadingRewards members will get DOUBLE POINTS on ALL THE BOOKS by the thirteen authors listed below. And as a means of KICKING OFF this promotion, I decided to provide some FUN FACTS for each of our featured, sinister scribes…

1) Stephen King

King remarked once in an interview that from a very early age he wanted to be scared. Yes, you read that right, he wanted to be scared. So picture that for a moment. Instead of the typical saucer-eyed waif huddled in a corner clutching their teddy bear tight, afraid of their bedroom's shadows, you have a grisly youth with wild eyes wielding a long stick, attempting to poke the boogeyman under their bed so he makes a proper appearance. I couldn't admire him more!

2) R.L. Stine

When he worked for Scholastic, Robert Lawrence Stine wrote under the pen name "Jovial Bob Stine." I think he should've kept that pen name when he transitioned to horror writing for kids (the Guiness Book of World Records called Stine the best-selling children's book series author of all time). Would've added a folksy element to the terror. Like Fred Rogers with fangs!

3) Shirley Jackson

Ah, yes, she rose to prominence in the nineteen-forties with her short-story The Lottery. I won't spoil the plot for you, but suffice it to say, if you win the lottery in question, you're in for a very, uh, bumpy ride! To groovy ghouls like me, Shirley had the perfect horror-glamour for her time – sort of like the cross between a stern school marm and a deranged spinster – to which I say ooh-la-la!

4) Anne Rice

The New York Times once described Anne Rice as having "…what might best be described as a Gothic imagination crossed with a campy taste for the decadent and the bizarre." Sounds like the perfect prom date! She was laid to rest in her family's mausoleum in 2022, which is a coincidence, because that's when I had the mausoleum I sleep in renovated, and we both went for a stained glass motif (although mine depict poisonous lizards and enormous spiders instead of flowers).

5) Dean Koontz

One of the most prolific horror writers in history, Dean Koontz has written more than 100 novels, on top of many novellas and short story collections. But even more terrifying than the oceans of monsters, killers, and creeps he's concocted over the years is the fact that throughout the early part of his writing career he appeared balding with a mustache on the back of his books, looking very much like Watergate plumber G. Gordon Liddy. As soon as Koontz realized this, he wisely shaved the stash and opted for hair transplantation surgery.

6) Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia serves as publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, an imprint devoted to weird fiction. She's a weirdo! Be still my beating, blackened heart! Not to mention, she co-edited two anthologies of short stories based on the Cthulhu mythos created by super-duper Cosmos-obsessed Mega-Weirdo H.P. Lovecraft! Can you see the hearts in my eyes?!

7) Riley Sager

What can you say about someone who writes under many pseudonyms? That they're shifty? Untrustworthy? Mercurial? Did you know that Riley Sager is also Todd Ritter? And also also Alan Finn? And may the REAL WHOEVER please stand up?! GEEZ!

8) Clive Barker

Clive Barker got his start writing creepy plays with titles like A Clowns' Sodom and Crazyface, so is it any wonder he was destined for horror greatness? His novella The Hellbound Heart put him on the map (where Pinhead was introduced), and from there he was off to the races. But seriously, considering they’re turning every old play into a musical on Broadway these days, why not launch a big foot-stomping rendition of A Clowns' Sodom with Bono and The Edge writing the music? It couldn't be any worse than their soundtrack for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

9) Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman began as a journalist, but we can forgive him for that. His first book, a biography of the New Wave eighties band Duran Duran, sounds like a prelude to a career in horror, but his greatest influence was Roger Zelazny, who enjoyed writing in many different sci-fi/fantasy styles. Gaiman definitely took a cue from him, writing comic books, children's and YA books, screenplays, poetry, and novels.

10) Laurell K. Hamilton

Is there a term for hot and spicy goth? Maybe broth? Va-Va-voth? If Anne Rice covered the gothic outsider territory with her Vampire Chronicles series, then Laurell K. Hamilton turns up the saucy heat with her gothic titles, especially the Anita Blake series (and yes, I know Anne Rice had the Sleeping Beauty books, but that's erotica, rather than trashy dark-themed genre fiction, which is Hamilton's specialty).

11) T. Kingfisher

Another author who enjoys a good pseudonym, T. Kingfisher is the pen name for Ursula Vernon (why she didn't want to publish dark fiction under the name "Ursula Vernon" is beyond me! But I guess she started out writing children's books under that - her actual name - and maybe didn't think it best to sign her more adult fare under the same moniker).

12) Stephen Graham Jones

Several scholars have cited Stephen Graham Jones' writing as "post-ironic" in a similar way to David Foster Wallace's "New Sincerity." Well, geez, I could've told you that! Can horror even be ironic? One of Jones' novels – Mongrels - is about a boy becoming a werewolf. I suppose an ironic version of that story would've been the boy being a civil and sophisticated wolf during the day, only to transform into a feral and violent human every full moon. On second thought, I'd love to read that!

13) Grady Hendrix

All us creeps and ghouls owe Grady Hendrix a bloody debt for his book Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction. Anyone with the wherewithal to research all the ridiculous horror titles that were published in the '70s and '80s is a sickly saint of sorts. But not only did he tell us about them, his attention got many of the titles republished – twisted tomes like Stage Fright, The Reaping, and When Darkness Loves Us. And he's also a damn fine horror AUTHOR to boot! Talk about a DOUBLE THREAT!

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