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Monday, June 30, 2014

GUEST POST: Five Contemporary Horror Authors You Should Read Right Now by Kevin Lucia


Reviewers and publishers are ALWAYS talking about “fresh faces in horror,” touting dozens of writers as the “new best thing ever.” It can get a little confusing. Our time is limited, right? We can't read everything. Which authors are worth our time? Even accounting for different tastes, it can be tough to cut past the hyperbole and actually find those new authors worth reading.

Who am I to tell you all this? Certainly no great voice in the genre. I've experienced a certain measure of success, but not enough to make any of what I say gospel, by any means. In the end, I'm just a guy who loves reading maybe even more than writing, and that's about it. So, without further ado, let's look at five “must-read” contemporary writers in the horror genre.

Mary Sangiovanni: Mary is probably one of the best non-Lovecraftian scribes of cosmic horror working in the field today. She builds wonderful atmosphere and tension, and her characters are three-dimensional, people you really care about. She knows how to tug on the heart-strings, and she knows how to invoke that creeping dread. Thrall boasts some of the most inventive world-building in cosmic horror that I've seen.

Ronald Malfi: It would be wrong to compare Ron to either Stephen King, Peter Straub or Robert McCammon, because he has his own voice, but I'm tempted, because of two things: 1. He crafts flawed characters that remind us very much of ourselves, and 2. He takes horror tropes and makes them his own. Floating Staircase was a wonderfully written, emotional, remarkable twist on the “haunted author” trope. The Narrows is the best non-vampire vampire novel I've read in years. The Fall of Never is HIS gothic novel. Plus, he shows some serious literary chops in Passenger, one of the most surprising and gut-wrenching things I've read in awhile.

Rio Youers: It may be more accurate to consider Rio's work “darkly speculative” rather than straight out HORROR, but it really doesn't matter, because he's simply one of the best new speculative writers, regardless of what label you peg him with. A fine craftsman who doesn't lean on overused tropes, Rio is always ready to take his readers for a ride they'll never forget. Whether he's telling a chilling coming-of-age story in Mama Fish or offering us a haunting glimpse of the sunset years in Old Man Scratch, Rio tells stories that defy easy categorization. Plus, Westlake Soul made me cry. Nuff said.

Norman Prentiss: Again, comparing Norman Prentiss to someone like Charles Grant does him a grave disservice. Norman has his own voice, his own identity. But for my money, he's the best thing going today in the sub genre of “quiet horror.” Invisible Fences is one of the subtlest stories I've read in years. On Four Legs in The Morning is a smartly, cleverly woven together quartet of stories reminiscent of Grant's Oxrun Station. For the quiet, creeping chill, Norman is your ticket.

Johnathan Janz: Johnathan Janz has done some excellent work since landing with Samhain Horror. Imagine mixing the Gothic sensibilities of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House with the late Richard Matheson's Hell House, and adding a pinch of Ed Lee's unflinching narrative, and you've got Johnathan Janz. I'm only familiar with his “house” novels: The Sorrows, The Darkest Lullaby and House of Skin, but those were excellent, and Janz has become very prolific, quickly becoming one of Samhain's top producers.

Should I say something about my work, now? Okay. My newest book, Devourer of Souls, is being published by Ragnarok Publishing. It contains two linked novellas, Sophan and The Man in Yellow. Both take place in or near my fictional haunted Adirondack town, Clifton Heights, which was introduced in my short fiction collection, Things Slip Through, published by Crystal Lake in November, 2013. Both stories are weird and strange, I hope entertaining and, at the root, about people. I hope you'll check it out, and if you do, hope you enjoy.


Official Author Website
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AUTHOR INFORMATION: Kevin Lucia is a Submissions Reader for Cemetery Dance Magazine and his podcast "Horror 101" is featured monthly on Tales to Terrify. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies. He’s currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at Binghamton University, he teaches high school English and lives in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children. His first short story collection, Things Slip Through was published November 2013.

2 comments:

Frank Errington said...

Familiar with all but Johnathan, going to have to give him a try.

Ryan Lawler said...

Definitely agree with you on Ronald Malfi. I first found his stuff in 2012 and it just drew me in so completely.

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