Meet the Authors of Today's Big Horror Novels

Posted by Cybil on October 4, 2021

We'll admit it: Of all the types of novelists, it's horror writers we have the most questions for. Like: WHY? And WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? So, when Goodreads had the chance to ask not one but nine of this year's buzziest horror writers to tell us how they so very effectively scare us, well, we jumped at the opportunity. Of course, we're jumpier than usual after reading their books! 

To help you scare up the perfect Halloween read, we asked Stephen Graham JonesCaitlin StarlingGrady HendrixLee MandeloLaTanya McQueenRichard ChizmarMona AwadChuck Wendig, and Cassandra Khaw to tell you about their new books and share their best recommendations for truly terrifying tales. As a special bonus, they are also sharing some things that scare them as well! Their answers may surprise you...

Be sure to add the books that pique your interest to your Want to Read shelf!


Stephen Graham Jones, author of My Heart Is a Chainsaw

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Goodreads: Summarize your new book in a couple of sentences.

Stephen Graham Jones: What if you’re a social outcast at your high school, you feel like the only horror fan in your whole state, your home life’s no picnic, and your high mountain town is the site of a camp massacre 50 years ago? What you do then, obviously, is pray and pray at the altar of Craven and Carpenter for a slasher to come to your town.

And when those horror gods smile on you, you get not only a slasher but a real, true, final girl as well. If your heart’s not a chainsaw already, it’s going to have to be if you want to survive.

GR: What sparked the idea for your latest book?

SGJ: Thinking about what bloody, terrible, wonderful things should happen to those who come in and steal land away, displacing the people who used to live there. Growing up in a small town myself, as the only Indian in the whole school. Always being the weird kid, into all the horror stuff. Going to a movie on the water in college, and looking around at all these bodies floating around me, and wondering how this could be even more exciting.

But the single trigger is The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Euginedes. In the '90s, I read it and Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho over and over, until the content of one and the tone of the other got all mixed up in my head and came out as My Heart Is a Chainsaw.

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect horror novel?

SGJ: One that changes your daily behavior—makes you afraid of the shower, afraid of the dark, suspicious of the people in your life. One that leaves you no longer certain about yourself or the world you live in. A perfect horror novel is one you forget is a book at all. It’s one that lodges in your head and your heart as an experience, a little perturbation inside you that you only snag your thoughts on when alone. But when those thoughts start to seep blood, you place that cut to your mouth and drink. This is the nourishment you need, never mind how drained it leaves you feeling. Nothing’s for free.

GR: Who are some of your all-time-favorite horror writers?

SGJ: Stephen King, Shirley Jackson. Before King, as I understand it, there was no horror shelf at the bookstore even. His imagination and craft, his generosity and prolificacy, didn’t just sow horror into the psyche of two or three generations; it also left the door open for the rest of us to walk out into this wondrous new space. And Shirley Jackson not only mapped out the haunted house for us forevermore, but she also introduced a bit of an uncomfortable sense of the absurd in amongst the blood and violence, such that when we smile, it makes us feel the littlest bit guilty.

And I should also include Philip K. Dick. Sure, he’s officially science fiction, but what’s at stake in his stories, for his characters, for his readers is always certainty, reality, and the soul—which is the province of horror.

GR: What are some new horror novels you've been enjoying and recommending to friends?

SGJ: Benny Rose, the Cannibal King, Hailey Piper. Piper has the kind of instinct for horror that means she doesn’t seem to have to flex any muscles to get the scary stuff on the page, leaving her to have all kinds of other fun. The result is very well-rounded fiction. The Ghost Sequences, A.C. Wise—a collection, not a novel, but each story here kind of is a novel. Each story is a door onto a complete world, I mean. But be careful, because once you stop watching that door, she’ll shut it on you, trapping you.

The Final Girls Support Group, Grady Hendrix, which knows the slasher at least as well as My Heart Is a Chainsaw does. I was going to say Grady’s on a roll with horror novels these last few years, but, really, I think what I’m just saying is that they’re all exceptional and wonderful.

And The Book of Accidents, Chuck Wendig. This is a haunted house serial killer sort of interdimensional coming-of-age kitchen-sink beast of an amazing, and amazingly told, novel. It’s got caves and mines, bullies and chainsaw art, but, really, at its core, it’s got family. And that’s what so many horror novels hinge on, depend upon.

GR: For someone who’s new to horror, what's a good book to lure them into the genre?

SGJ: Gemma Files’ Experimental Film. It ramps out of and back into a folktale, one I didn’t know before compulsively reading this book over and over. But now I’m kind of terrified of it, and don’t go out at noon much anymore.

Joshua Gaylord’s When We Were Animals, which is one of the cooler, more amazing werewolf novels around, in that...I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Sara Gran’s Come Closer, which I always think isn’t going to scare me again, since I know it now. But then it does scare me. Deeply. Fundamentally.

Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts, which leaves your head, you know, not unpopulated with images so sticky that trying to get them out only smears them in deeper.

Stephen King’s The Shining. Walk these lonely halls of the Overlook with Jack Torrance—no, walk the lonely corridors of his twisted and twisting mind, and try not to get lost. But don’t run outside. Not because of the snow, though there is that, but because of the topiary horrors waiting to pounce. The Shining is a blueprint for how to do good horror. And if I could only not lose myself in it each time through, I could use it as a blueprint...

GR: What is something that you find scary that other people would not?

SGJ: Menus I haven’t seen. Restaurants I’ve never been to before. Bouncing around from place to place, I always try to pick hotels with chains I know within walking distance. That way I can fake eating at whatever restaurant I end up with the crowd, then sneak down later for a burrito I know and trust, a glass of iced tea that tastes like iced tea, a basket of fries with no salt, please.

Most terrifying to me is scanning a menu in the low, tasteful light and, the first two or three times through, not even recognizing what any of this stuff is, much less what’s in it or how I’m supposed to eat it. I remember at one joint, the staff flourished down a little wooden paddle of what they told me was goose liver pâté, and I kind of visibly flinched, then froze up, had to, as politely as I could, be sure to keep my closed fist in front of my nose and mouth, so I wouldn’t accidentally breathe any of this in again. Finally the manager had to come out, pull me aside, and ask what was wrong. “That,” I had to tell him, probably, in the process, revealing that I grew up on fish sticks and steak fingers and generic spaghetti from the can.

One of my best food memories, though—this is elementary—is driving into town on a Friday night and parking behind Long John Silver’s, waiting for them to bring out the fish they were having to throw away. Sitting in the cab of our truck, eating great handfuls of that fish...it doesn’t get any better.
 
Stephen Graham JonesMy Heart Is a Chainsaw is available now in the U.S.


Caitlin Starling, author of The Death of Jane Lawrence

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Goodreads: Summarize your new book in a couple of sentences.

CS: Jane wants a marriage of convenience, and local doctor Augustine Lawrence fits her requirements perfectly—even his need to return to his ancestral home outside of town every night without her. But when a storm forces her to take shelter at the crumbling mansion on their wedding night, she is tipped into a world of ghosts, secret societies, and madness. Traditional gothic horror meets bloody surgeries and mind-bending magic.

GR: What sparked the idea for your latest book?

CS: I had just seen Crimson Peak in theaters and found myself wanting a story with the same atmosphere and the same traditional, gothic setup (a marriage of convenience, a crumbling manor, a secret), but one that would allow the heroine and the (questionable) hero to wind up fighting the evil of the place together, in some sense, and that wouldn’t end with the hero’s sacrificial death. I also wanted to include a lot of horrific historical surgical practices, a huge helping of esoteric, “internal” magic, and calculus.

Put that all in a cocktail shaker and out comes (eventually, after a lot of refinement and adjustments) Jane Lawrence.

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect horror novel?

CS:  I want to drown in atmosphere. That doesn’t mean I want only slow-moving horror but books that feel like the movies The Blackcoat’s Daughter or A Dark Song—something in that vein. I also want characters that I can live inside, that even if I question their decisions, I don’t just hate or want to suffer. It’s more fun for me to watch a character I enjoy struggle.

GR: Who are some of your all-time-favorite horror writers?

CS: Aliya Whiteley, Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, and Cassandra Khaw come to mind, but there’s so much variety and so much I haven’t gotten to that it’s hard to narrow it down!

GR: What are some new horror novels you've been enjoying and recommending to friends? 

CS: I just finished reading Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, which is not so much a book you enjoy as a book that completely overwhelms and destroys you. Absolutely brutal and exquisitely rendered dystopian horror story of a man who manages a slaughterhouse for human meat.
 
Less intense and more in the realm of “enjoyable” is Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand. I love stories told via interviews or “found footage”, and this one is perfectly eerie and full of dread.

GR: For someone who’s new to horror, what's a good book to lure them into the genre? 

CS: I don’t have any specific recommendations here, because this is going to vary wildly by person. I think the best way in is to find a horror take on something you already enjoy. Do you like fictional documentaries? Then Wylding Hall or A Head Full of Ghosts are great places to start. Prefer historical fiction? Ease into gothic with Under the Pendulum Sun. More of a noir fan? My Sister, the Serial Killer will fit the bill.

GR:  What is something that you find scary that other people would not?

CS: This is difficult! Most of what I find terrifying (and there’s a lot; thank you, anxiety and an overactive imagination!) seems, to me at least, to be universally terrifying. And a lot of what comes to mind that might be odd has been induced by media (looking at you, The Blair Witch Project and people standing in corners).
 
Maybe just something relatively simple: I can’t stand to have my bedroom door open at night if I’m alone. Not even if all the other doors in the house are locked. The subtly deeper black of the doorway into the hall just has too much potential for something to come out of it.
 
Caitlin Starling's The Death of Jane Lawrence is available now in the U.S.
  


Grady Hendrix, author of The Final Girl Support Group

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Goodreads: Summarize your new book in a couple of sentences.

Grady Hendrix: Final girls are the women who survive horror movies, and I’ve always wondered why they never formed a support group. In my new book, they have! But as the group reaches its 16th year and starts to drift apart, these survivors begin to die one by one and only their most paranoid member thinks it’s a conspiracy.

GR: What sparked the idea for your latest book?

GH: Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to see R-rated movies, so after Boy Scout meetings when our Scoutmaster took us to the gas station for snacks, I convinced him that I was allowed to buy issues of Fangoria with my snack money instead. I’d pore over Fango’s deeply detailed plot breakdowns and photo spreads so that I could pretend to have seen all these horror movies. The first one I remember was their feature on the opening of Friday the 13th Part 2, in which the final girl from Part 1, played by Adrienne King, gets murdered by Jason. The casual cruelty of that blew my mind. This woman had seen all her friends die, decapitated the killer, and survived, but she still couldn’t let her guard down. I always wanted to write her a happier ending.
(Fun fact: Adrienne King is the audiobook narrator for The Final Girl Support Group.)

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect horror novel?

GH: One that I didn’t write. Ultimately, I am a very lazy person, and I’d rather someone else do all the work.

GR: Who are some of your all-time-favorite horror writers?

GH: The list changes all the time, but what you’ll usually find on there are the forgotten short stories of Mary Wilkins Freeman, anything by Shirley Jackson, Elizabeth Engstrom’s three ’80s novels, Joan Samson’s long-out-of-print and recently reissued American classic The Auctioneer, Caroline Blackwood’s funny, gloomy, gothic Great Granny Webster, Dorothy B. Hughes’ groundbreaking 1949 serial killer novel In a Lonely Place, Ann Rule’s true-crime classic The Stranger Beside Me, Lisa Tuttle’s short stories, Vernon Lee’s “anything Henry James can do, I can do better” stories.

GR: What are some new horror novels you’ve been enjoying and recommending to friends? 

GH: I don’t have any friends. Thanks for reminding me. But if I did, I’d make them read Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer and Sarah Langan’s Good Neighbors. If they didn’t, I’d kill them. This may be why I don’t have any friends.

GR: For someone who’s new to horror, what's a good book to lure them into the genre? 

GH: I don’t advocate luring anyone into anything because it inevitably goes wrong and you wind up in a packing container being shipped to a Romanian circus. But if I had to, I’d use either Michael McDowell’s The Elementals or Elizabeth Engstrom’s When Darkness Loves Us, and then I’d just live with the guilt.

GR: What is something that you find scary that other people would not?

GH: My dad. He’s a doctor, and he’s been waiting all his life to be in some public situation where he can perform impromptu surgery. Growing up, he would describe in great detail how, if one of us was choking to death in a restaurant, he would skip the Heimlich maneuver and use silverware to perform an emergency tracheotomy. At various times in my life, he has explained to me how he would amputate my leg with things we already had in the car, how to denucleate my eyeball if it became unsalvageable with a Swiss Army knife, and how to drill a hole in my skull to relieve brain swelling with things he could find at the hardware store. As he nears the end of his life and his fantasy of performing field surgery remains unfulfilled, I’ve begun to view each visit to see him with growing concern. 
 
Grady Hendrix’s The Final Girl Support Group is available now in the U.S.
  

Lee Mandelo, author of Summer Sons

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Goodreads: Summarize your debut book in a couple of sentences.

Lee Mandelo: Summer Suns is a spooky Southern gothic novel run through the mangle with contemporary academia, fast cars, and queer masculinity.
 
After his best friend Eddie’s apparent death by suicide, Andrew comes south to Nashville—dogged by the gruesome ghost Eddie left behind—to hunt the truth of what happened to him. But what he finds is a mess: a group of aggressive and aggressively charming young men Eddie made friends with on his own, a graduate program weighted with uncomfortable expectations, and inheritances both literal and supernatural he doesn’t know how to handle.

GR: What sparked the idea for your book?

LM: I’ve elsewhere referred to the novel as an exorcism of me, and that’s the spark, I’d say. About half a decade ago, while I was in graduate school (part the first) and processing the loss of a close friend to an overdose, I started drafting the book that’d later become Summer Sons. I wanted to draw loose some of the horrors of growing up queer in the Appalachian South, entangled in scripts about masculinity and attachment that didn’t do me any favors…but at the same time, I also wanted to implicate the historical legacies of the place itself—to keep whiteness visible on the hook, as it were. The South might be famous for its ghost stories, but the lengths folks will go to avoid talking about chattel slavery and genocide as the source of so much hauntedness are astounding. So, all of those things woven together formed the catalyst for the novel.

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect horror novel?

LM: I’m a genre-promiscuous reader and terrible at giving a damn about categories, but I’d argue the “perfect” experience of reading horror revolves around the feelings a book provokes. Whether we’re drawing on discomfort, or fear, or disgust, or unnerved horniness—those visceral, bodily responses—the ideal horror novel constructs a space where powerful emotions, especially the ones we often think of as bad, can knock me over the head. And personally, those intensities generally strike hardest in stories that aren’t afraid to grapple in-depth with the ethics and everyday horrors of surviving contemporary life.

GR:  Who are some of your all-time-favorite horror writers?

LM: Shirley Jackson, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Stephen Graham Jones, Poppy Z. Brite, Octavia E. Butler—all of their work had been foundational for me in some sense or another. Whether that’s because I encountered their books at a tender age (hello, Drawing Blood), or because their prose clung to the inside of my skull after reading for months and months, or because of the rich life-worlds their stories grew from, I wouldn’t be the same writer without their influences.

GR: What are some new horror novels you've been enjoying and recommending to friends? 

LM: If I narrow the range to the past year or so—Carmen Maria Machado’s spooky one-shot comic The Low, Low Woods; Sam J. Miller’s gruesomely haunted gentrification novel The Blade Between; Emily M. Danforth’s slick, twisty, metafictional Plain Bad Heroines; and Sarah Gailey’s “what if your shitty husband cloned you” domestic thriller, The Echo Wife. Bonus: All those books are queer!

GRFor someone who’s new to horror, what's a good book to lure them into the genre? 

LM: Well, it depends on the kind of bad vibes the person’s most attracted to, right? For the blood-pumping slasher scare, Stephen Graham Jones’ My Heart Is a Chainsaw…but for the decaying estate, “mad” heroine, gaslighting energies, maybe Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic. And if they’re prone to existential dread and writing in their journal at 4 a.m., The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan might get them real good.

GR: What is something that you find scary that other people would not?

LM: I’m phobic of heights—like, irrational total body lockdown terrified—but the specific things that ruin me most are (1) staircases with the big open gaps between the steps and (2) glass or otherwise transparent suspended walkways. Does it matter if I’m barely five feet above the ground? No, it does not. Horrifying.
 
 
Lee Mandelo's Summer Sons is available now in the U.S.
 

LaTanya McQueen, author of When the Reckoning Comes

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Goodreads: Summarize your debut novel in a couple of sentences.

LaTanya McQueen: The novel is centered on Mira, who is called back to her hometown to attend the wedding of her white childhood best friend. The wedding is being held on a renovated plantation meant to provide guests with an authentic Antebellum experience. The plantation is also rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of slaves seeking vengeance on the descendants of those who once owned them.

GR: What sparked the idea for your book?

LQ: I was interested in the idea of writing about the white gaze and specifically white fear. Part of the book’s premise is a horror one, but the piece that elicits fear is one that is specifically a white fear. Historically, our country has made laws, policy decisions, even thinking about the ways Black communities are overpoliced—part of that is from white fear of Black Americans, so I wanted to center a book that used that in its premise while also critiquing it in a way to discuss white supremacy. In the book, the real horror is the violence that’s been done toward Black Americans to maintain white supremacy.

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect horror novel?

LQ: One that helps me recognize why I am terrified of something I do not understand.

GR: Who are some of your all-time-favorite horror writers?

LQ: I like a lot of what Stephen Graham Jones does. Big fan of Jac Jemc’s The Grip of It also.

GR: What are some new horror novels you've been enjoying and recommending to friends?  

LQ: I’ve been interested in female Black horror recently, so have read and enjoyed The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris. Also recommend Lakewood by Megan Giddings.

GR: For someone who's new to horror, what's a good book to lure them back to the genre? 

LQ: This is probably an uncharacteristic answer, but I would say Toni Morrison’s Beloved. It’s not typically talked about in terms of horror, but I’d qualify it as a horror novel and deals with a lot of issues that Black horror specifically engages with. A contemporary Black woman writer writing horror would be Tananarive Due and her novel The Good House.

GR: What is something that you find scary that other people would not?

LQ: I am terrified of trains, because in the night they’ll screech this long metallic wail you can hear, a kind of howling, and once they get going they are hard to stop, so it’s like this giant mechanical force filled with who knows what that’s coming for you.
 
LaTanya McQueen’s When the Reckoning Comes is available now in the U.S.
 

Richard Chizmar, author of Chasing the Boogeyman

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Richard Chizmar: An aspiring horror writer returns to his hometown to prepare for his upcoming wedding and finds himself entangled in a series of gruesome murders. Written in a true-crime format, Chasing the Boogeyman is a unique blending of fact and fiction with echoes of Stephen King and Michelle McNamara.

GR: What sparked the idea for your latest book?

RC: There was a series of home invasions in my hometown of Edgewood, Maryland, back in the mid-to-late ’80s. The intruder would usually enter through unlocked doors or windows, and then he would caress the hair, arms, and legs of sleeping women. Once they awoke, he would flee and disappear into the night. He did this over 30 times and was never captured. I always feared that his actions would escalate. Chasing the Boogeyman was my answer to those worries.

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect horror novel?

RC: It by Stephen King. In my mind, a picture-perfect snapshot of past and present horrors with an amazing cast of characters and the scariest monster I’ve ever run across.

GR: Who are some of your all-time-favorite horror writers?

RC: Goodness, so many! Legends like Stephen King, Peter Straub, Richard Matheson, and Shirley Jackson, along with somewhat younger folks like Caroline Kepnes, Joe Hill, Alma Katsu, C.J. Tudor, Paul Tremblay, Josh Malerman, Grady Hendrix, Scott Carson, Brian Keene, Stephen Graham Jones, Riley Sager, and so many others!

GR: What are some new horror novels you've been enjoying and recommending to friends?  

RC:  My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones. The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor. Survive the Night by Riley Sager. And the forthcoming Road of Bones by Christopher Golden.

GR: For someone who's new to horror, what's a good book to lure them into the genre? 

RC: If King’s Salem's Lot, Dan SimmonsSummer of Night, or Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts don’t do the trick, nothing will.

GR: What is something that you find scary that other people would not?

RC: Hmmm, I can’t really think of anything. I’m scared of snakes, extreme heights, ghosts…but a lot of folks are scared of those things. Sorry to be boring!
 
Richard Chizmar’s Chasing the Boogeyman is available now in the U.S.


Mona Awad, author of All's Well

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Mona Awad: All’s Well is a supernatural black comedy about female pain, college theater gone awry, and a dark wish coming true. Shakespeare and witchery on a surreal stage.

GR: What sparked the idea for your latest book?

MA:  I wanted to write a dark fairy tale about a woman in pain who desperately longs to be free from it. What would that freedom look and feel like? What’s the cost, the shadow side of having your wish come true? The setting of New England college theater and the play with Shakespearean comedy (and tragedy) felt like perfect frames for exploring that fantasy in all its light and shade. Also, I have a great affection for All’s Well That Ends Well. And Macbeth. Especially those three witches.

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect horror novel?

MA: A story that both entrances and scares the living shit out of me. Above all, it has to cast a spell so that even when I’m absolutely terrified, I can’t look away. Atmosphere is important. I love the atmospherics of horror perhaps even more than the horror itself. Though I’m a sucker for a good monster, too.

GR: Who are some of your all-time-favorite horror writers?

MA: I love Brian Evenson’s books, especially his short story collections. His new one, The Glassy Burning Floor of Hell, is fantastic. He’s so good at creating a sense of wonder and dread on the page that is completely immersive. And though the stories are deeply, wonderfully weird, they also feel classic and strangely familiar in all the right ways. I love Shirley Jackson’s novels, too. It’s that slippage between the real and the imagined horror that she does so well. It creates such an atmosphere of suspense and unease, because anything feels possible and you really don’t know what sort of world you’re in. Stephen King was an early and enduring love. Carrie is where it all started for me.

GR: What are some new horror novels you've been enjoying and recommending to friends?  

MA: I loved the brutal shock and humor of Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones. Also the brilliant and deeply disturbing Lakewood by Megan Giddings. David Mitchell’s Slade House is probably the novel I recommend most because it truly terrified and entranced me in equal measure.

GR: For someone who's new to horror, what's a good book to lure them into the genre? 

MA: Come Closer by Sara Gran is such a brilliant and alluring novel about demonic possession. The voice is so spellbinding and disturbing. And hilarious.

GR: What is something that you find scary that other people would not?

MA: As readers of Bunny might guess, I’m both deeply drawn to and terrified of cute things. Hello Kitty. Bunnies (of course). Stuffed animals. ModCloth. Basically, anything adorable is the stuff of potential horror for me, because it’s so disarming by design. And anything disarming has immense power. And what if adorable things had sinister designs? That’s a fear Bunny explores. I joke that if a corgi ran for president, I might vote for them, even if the corgi was a fascist. And that scares me, no joke.
 
Mona Awad’s All's Well is available now in the U.S.
 


Chuck Wendig, author of The Book of Accidents

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Chuck Wendig: A family moves out of the city and back to the father’s childhood home, and there they discover the house is haunted by both the trauma the father suffered there as well as the ghost of his abuser. Further, the mother’s artwork gains life of its own, and the son meets a new friend who claims to possess dark magic. They encounter a world that seems to be breaking down around them as evil closes in.

GR: What sparked the idea for your latest book?

CW: I grew up in a haunted house and am a father now in what can only be described as a troubled world; I’ve been trying to write this book for 20 years, but I wasn’t yet the writer to write it. Seems I became that writer, maybe.

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect horror novel?

CW: I don’t know that there is a perfect one, but the horror I like to read and also write usually features horror gilded by a little heart and hope—not to say it’s optimistic, but I don’t want to write something nihilistic. (Though I don’t mind reading it.) Horror is comfort food, even at its goriest, creepiest, soul-throttling best.

GR: Who are some of your all-time-favorite horror writers?

CW: Sarah Lotz, Christopher Golden, Paul Tremblay, Billy Martin (writing as Poppy Z. Brite), and Robert R. McCammon, Stephen King (obviously), Cassandra Khaw, Stephen Graham Jones, Grady Hendrix.
 
GR: What are some new horror novels you've been enjoying and recommending to friends?  

CW: It’s a novella, but I just read Eric LaRocca’s Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, and it blew me away. Short, creeping body horror and psychological terror. Golden’s Road of Bones is a thriller-paced piece of adventure-horror perfection. The Final Girl Support Group is a blast, and I’m eager to read SGJ’s My Heart Is a Chainsaw.

GR: For someone who's new to horror, what's a good book to lure them into the genre? 

CW: It’s pretty clichéd to say King, but King writes very accessible American horror. Tremblay is a current master, though, and I feel like A Head Full of Ghosts is a good doorway. Mira Grant’s Feed, maybe, too. My favorite is McCammon’s Swan Song, though.
 
GR: What is something that you find scary that other people would not?

CW: Fish creep me out. Little dead eyes. Nibblin’ on your toes. They’re always up to something, fish.
 
Chuck Wendig’s The Book of Accidents is available now in the U.S.
 


Cassandra Khaw, author of Nothing but Blackened Teeth

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Cassandra Khaw: Nothing but Blackened Teeth is the story of five childhood friends coming together to celebrate the marriage between two of their numbers. Unfortunately, their venue of choice is an allegedly haunted manor that they absolutely shouldn’t be in. Needless to say, bad things happen.

GR: What sparked the idea for your latest book?

CK:  Among other things, it came about from a weird time in my life when I was navigating the fallout from my father’s death. There were people who took advantage of that period, old friends who overstepped boundaries, who took liberties that I really shouldn’t have allowed for but did because I was grateful that I had people to cling to.

The book came about from that, from me wondering about how many of us hang onto friendships that should have been allowed to die but have instead been forced to live on, necrotizing slowly, poisoning memories.

GR: What’s your definition of a perfect horror novel?

CK:  I…don’t know. I don’t think there is a perfect horror novel out there, because horror is such a complicated and nuanced thing. Horror’s a kind of communion, a conversation between the author’s fears and the reader’s own, and that is going to be unique to each book.

GR: Who are some of your all-time-favorite horror writers?

CK: Stephen Graham Jones. Joe Hill. Mira Grant. Stephanie Malia Morris. Hiron Ennes.
 
GR: What are some new horror novels you've been enjoying and recommending to friends?  

CK: Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt is going to sweep the awards when it finally comes out, I think. It’s beautifully written, a barbed hook that will dig deep and split you open. Hiron Ennes’ Leech is GLORIOUS, too. Gothic. Moody. Eerie. With a protagonist who is essentially a decentralized parasitic intelligence. I’ve never read anything like it. 

GR: For someone who's new to horror, what's a good book to lure them into the genre? 

CK: Oh, man. Let’s see. That’s HARD. I’d say Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box, I think.
 
GR: What is something that you find scary that other people would not?

CK: Goldfish. Goldfish freak me out SO MUCH.
 
Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing but Blackened Teeth will be available in the U.S. on Oct. 19.
 
 
Don’t forget to add these horror novels to your Want to Read shelf, and tell us which of these books you’re most excited about in the comments below.

 

Comments Showing 1-50 of 54 (54 new)


message 1: by Trish (new)

Trish Bwahahahaha. That story of Grady Hendrix's father is awesome! :D


message 2: by Alondra (new)

Alondra Miller Interesting that these newer authors are influenced moreso by newer authors, than some of the oldies. They also mention each other..... Interesting.

Richard Matheson, Peter Straub, Robert McCammon, Stephen King, Richard Laymon, early Dean Koontz, Jack Ketchum, Briane Keene, Thomas Tryon, Clive Barker, James Herbert, Bentley Little, etc... I mean, the list goes on.


message 3: by Cheyenne (new)

Cheyenne I’m about to buy ALL of these for my October TBR. Thank you!!!


message 4: by Heather (new)

Heather This is such an awesome article! I love getting insights on what the genre means to different people. For me, Cassandra Khaw and LaTanya McQueen’s answers to what makes a perfect horror novel resonated the most.


message 5: by Bookfan (new)

Bookfan I am a little surprised that none of these authors mentioned Adam Nevill as a favorite horror author. That writer's novels are seriously scary, and they are all completely different from each other. Starting with The Ritual, I have read everything I can get my hands on.


message 6: by Lucynda friend (new)

Lucynda friend Hello


message 7: by Madeline (new)

Madeline More Grady Hendrix interviews please!


message 8: by LTJ (new)

LTJ Great interviews here and wow, LoL that Grady Hendrix story about his Dad, eh?


message 9: by Dana (new)

Dana Cristiana I love how Grady Hendrix mentioned about the Romanian circus! Being from Romania I found this so funny!

Also, the majority of these are already on my TBR. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is a bookclub pick for this month so this is what I'm going to read from this list first.

P.S. Forgot to mention that I already listened to the audiobook of All's Well last month. Wasn't really my cup of tea but it was very interesting.


message 10: by Bethe (new)

Bethe I would love to see this article with YA horror authors and books!


message 11: by Bird (new)

Bird Almost all of these start the story with a wedding -- what did I miss? Are weddings the new prom?


message 12: by Travis (new)

Travis Hillyard Some very interesting ideas here, I’m gonna have to invest in a few. Th Death Of Jane Lawrence is the one I’m looking at first and foremost!


message 13: by Ivanhoe (new)

Ivanhoe Im... dissapointed :/ most of those book arent really horror (sadly, i readed some of them). I will have to keep looking for better recommendations :(


message 14: by Allie (new)

Allie I'm still laughing at Grady Hendrix's story about his dad! I feel that...my dad is a surgeon and I know all sorts of weird facts, like what finger you should pick to have chopped off if someone gives you a choice (which, come one, that can only be a horror movie/torture situation!). Come to think of it, my dad loves Stephen King...this explains a lot lol


message 15: by Letty (new)

Letty Leal Evans This was a great article. I picked up so many new suggestions! I love Grady Hendrix, he is hands down my favorite author right now. I was pleased and happy that I have already read some of the titles they mentioned. Horror is my favorite genre, and I look forward to Horror Week every year! Everyday is Halloween!


message 16: by KEILA (new)

KEILA  PERNIA I’ll be saving this article and adding to my list! Thank you. Horror barely gets any attention beyond Stephen King.


message 17: by Potterhead (new)

Potterhead  Dork OOOhhhh i hate horrroooorrrr !!!!!


message 18: by Potterhead (new)

Potterhead  Dork though i cant resist it


message 19: by Linda (new)

Linda Grady Hendrix's answers are hilarious.


message 20: by em :) (new)

em :) Summer Sons sounds interesting!


message 21: by Edwin (new)

Edwin Mcfee Grady Hendrix for president of the universe.


message 22: by Erin (new)

Erin Bookfan wrote: "I am a little surprised that none of these authors mentioned Adam Nevill as a favorite horror author. That writer's novels are seriously scary, and they are all completely different from each other..."

Thank you for sharing the rec!!


Colleen (Colleensreadingadventures) Scidmore Omg I love Grady Hendrix interview! I would be scared of his dad too..lol.


message 24: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Goetz I love this set of interviews and I really appreciated the suggestions to "lure" people into horror as I am personally very interested in being lured (:


message 25: by Ethan (new)

Ethan I am quite pleased, glad to see that Stephen King wasn't on this list. Don't get me wrong I love his work, it's just I'm much happier seeing other writers get time in the spotlight in the horror scene other than King. I am also glad I found some new books to look into reading.


message 26: by Cedricsmom (new)

Cedricsmom Alondra wrote: "Interesting that these newer authors are influenced moreso by newer authors, than some of the oldies. They also mention each other..... Interesting.

Richard Matheson, Peter Straub, Robert McCammon..."


Oh. When you said oldies I thought you mean like Bram Stoker, Edgar Allen Poe, Nate Hawthorne, Sheridan la Fenu (sp?), classics.


message 27: by Alondra (new)

Alondra Miller Cedricsmom wrote: "Oh. When you said oldies I thought you mean like Bram Stoker, Edgar Allen Poe, Nate Hawthorne, Sheridan la Fenu (sp?), classics...."

Them too, but if I go back too far, folks will say, "Who??" and I just don't think I could handle that! I have recently been reading HP Lovecraft and enjoying his works


message 28: by Alondra (new)

Alondra Miller Ethan wrote: "I am quite pleased, glad to see that Stephen King wasn't on this list. Don't get me wrong I love his work, it's just I'm much happier seeing other writers get time in the spotlight in the horror sc..."

It's always been my impression that folks don't like his work and hate seeing anything on GR about him.

My faves are not on this list... Christopher Buehlman, Robert McCammon (underrated), David Moody, Jonathan Maberry, Ania Ahlborn, Darcy Coates. The list goes on.....


message 29: by Claire (new)

Claire Kreutzberger Ivanhoe wrote: "Im... dissapointed :/ most of those book arent really horror (sadly, i readed some of them). I will have to keep looking for better recommendations :("

You might want to try Gary Braunbeck's work if you haven't done so already... Just sayin' :-)


message 30: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Allie wrote: "I'm still laughing at Grady Hendrix's story about his dad! I feel that...my dad is a surgeon and I know all sorts of weird facts, like what finger you should pick to have chopped off if someone giv..."

Aw come on, you can't give us a lead like that, and then not tell us what finger to chose.


message 31: by Shardangood (last edited Oct 06, 2021 04:19AM) (new)

Shardangood GR: For someone who's new to horror, what's a good book to lure them into the genre?

Chuck Wendig: "... Mira Grant’s Feed".
Seriously? If that had been my first horror book, it would have been the last as well.


message 32: by Nono (last edited Oct 07, 2021 07:47AM) (new)

Nono Hmhmm, I'm watching out for The Book of Accidents… the premise is quite interesting!


message 33: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Reese Different strokes for different folks…that’s what makes things interesting. Some of my favorite horror authors are Ron Malfi, Andrew Pyper, Sarah Lotz, Ben Tripp. I loved Justin Cronin’s Passage Trilogy even though he’s not a horror writer per se.


message 34: by Kat (new)

Kat These authors not only mention each other, but also mention books and authors rated mostly at less than 4 stars... Charming...


message 35: by Debra (new)

Debra Blasi Sister Séance

Aimee Parkison's novel, Sister Séance, just came out. A historical horror story based in post-Civil War Concord, Massachusetts on Halloween. She's a remarkable writer and the novel is fantastic. My interview with her comes out this month in Full Stop Magazine. And a good review just came out in The Brooklyn Rail.


message 36: by Mel (new)

Mel Trish wrote: "Bwahahahaha. That story of Grady Hendrix's father is awesome! :D"

Yes, he should write a book like that other dude did; "Sh*t My Dad Says" and I would pre-order it right now.


message 37: by Glenn (new)

Glenn Rolfe These authors are all excellent!
If any of you are looking for more great authors check out: Sarah Langan, Patrick Lacey, Heather Herrman, Brian Moreland, Ronald Malfi


message 38: by Karen (new)

Karen Lee Mandelo: Summer Suns - misspelled - please correct.


message 39: by William (new)

William B The only interesting author and book featured here was Caitlin Starling’s “The Death of Jane Lawrence”.


message 40: by William (new)

William B I’m not a fan of Grady Hendrix. The only good book he’s written was “Horrorstor”. The rest of his books were more drama than horror.


message 41: by Noel (new)

Noel Brady Loved these interviews, especially what sparked the authors' ideas. That behind-the-scenes look is always fascinating to me.


Stephanie “Mystery Book Cafe” This was a fantastic article thank you!


message 43: by Allie (new)

Allie Cheryl wrote: "Allie wrote: "I'm still laughing at Grady Hendrix's story about his dad! I feel that...my dad is a surgeon and I know all sorts of weird facts, like what finger you should pick to have chopped off ..."

Hahaha that’s fair!! It’s your index/pointer finger...your middle finger will take over as your index finger. So if you’re ever in a situation where you get to choose, don’t pick your pinky!! Apparently that’s a common misperception, but the more you know :)


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Interesting list and feature with the interviews. I agree with someone else that Robert McCammon is underrated, and I also like Ronald Malfi and Ambrose Ibsen in addition to those already mentioned.


message 45: by Elly (new)

Elly Stevens Joe Janowicz has some very unusual horror books-- Bang, Bang You're Dead, The Naked Dead, Black Man White Man, and a new novel coming out this fall. Worth the read.


message 46: by Warren (new)

Warren Ellen wrote: "Different strokes for different folks…that’s what makes things interesting. Some of my favorite horror authors are Ron Malfi, Andrew Pyper, Sarah Lotz, Ben Tripp. I loved Justin Cronin’s Passage Tr..."
The Passage trilogy is the best horror I've read in 20 years or so. Not so much "horror" but dread and hopelessness...and hope.


message 47: by Warren (last edited Oct 21, 2021 04:46PM) (new)

Warren Alondra wrote: "Interesting that these newer authors are influenced moreso by newer authors, than some of the oldies. They also mention each other..... Interesting.

Richard Matheson, Peter Straub, Robert McCammon..."


Good list! I would add Brian Lumley...esp Necroscope. Edit...and Dan Simmons.


message 48: by Rogue (new)

Rogue Blackwood I'm reading death of Jane Lawrence now and loving it! Now I have what to read next! So cool to see influences of these authors!


message 49: by Maryellen (new)

Maryellen I love that so many people I admire reference Billy Martin (Poppy Z. Brite pre transition).

I would buy and shove Drawing Blood at people when I was younger. These days anyone who WOULD read it has already been given a copy. :D I should start leaving them in little libraries.


message 50: by Donita (new)

Donita I loved this article and cannot wait to read some of these recommendations. And here I thought I knew what I was doing when it comes to scary books!


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