From the darkness has curiosity ever reached out and struck you? Has it caused you to wonder about your favorite genre writers and what’s on their bookshelves? It’s reached out and struck me. Do they have some classic pulp detective novels? What about graphic novel collections? Maybe the severed head of the poor unfortunate soul who sent them their first rejection letter….
Like the person in a horror story that hears a strange noise, I ventured alone into the darkness to investigate. And here at Ravenous Monster I will share with you horror authors’ bookshelves and their personal thoughts on their collections, until the thing in the shadows finally reaches out and claims me.
What’s on My Horror Bookshelves by Brian Moreland
Throughout my life, since I first discovered reading as a young boy, I’ve been a voracious reader. I’m sure you’ve seen the image of a boy under the covers reading by a flashlight; that was me. I remember feeling both fear and exhilaration at the same time–too enthralled to close the book, yet too terrified to pull the covers off to see what might be lurking in the dark with me. Reading activated my vivid and wild imagination and made monsters and killers and imaginary worlds feel so real, I felt like they were happening to me.
I started out with comic books, but it wasn’t long before I discovered the secret joys of reading novels–especially scary ones. I read lots of fantasy, horror, mysteries, and adventure novels. Today I still read a lot of those genres, although my reading has expanded into literary fiction, historical fiction, and lots of non-fiction that inspire me to improve myself or my life in some way. For the sake of this article, I’ll share what’s on my horror shelves.
In my home office, I have a tall bookshelf that’s stuffed with books. My top shelf is comprised of many well-worn paperbacks by some of my favorite authors–Brian Keene, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, James Rollins, Jonathan Maberry, and Richard Laymon. As a writer always seeking to improve my craft, I like to pick an author and read several of his or her books at once. In college I studied Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, John Saul, and Stephen King. A couple years ago, I was reading every Richard Laymon novel I could find. Right now I’ve been reading lots of Clive Barker. I had discovered his Books of Blood series as a teen and they are still some of my favorite stories. I’m also currently reading Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastique, his compelling biography written by Douglas E. Winter. I recommend this book to any horror fan, because Clive Barker not only writes some of the best-written horror fiction I’ve ever read, his prolific career of writing, painting, performing in plays, and making movies (like Hellraiser) is a true inspiration to any artist or writer.
My middle shelf is a collection of random paperbacks that I’ve enjoyed. A few books worth reading: Ronald Malfi’s Snow, Adam Nevill’s The Ritual, David Wellington’s Monster Island, Charlee Jacobs’ Haunter and The Descent and it’s sequel Deeper by Jeff Long. Also on display is my first mass paperback copy of my WII thriller Shadows in the Mist. Next to it is a sculpture of the monster in the book. An artist friend of mine who had access to a 3D printer made the sculpture of the Nazi with the mask and glowing red eyes. He first designed a 3D model on a computer, then this machine that usually was used for making sculptures of skulls made the Nazi. It started out solid white and then my friend painted it for me. There’s only one of it in existence and it’s very special to me.
My third shelf is where I keep reference books and non-fiction books on the craft of writing. Three books I’ve referred to for years are my dictionary, thesaurus, and my Chicago Manual of Style for the rules of editing (the big orange one far right). I believe that even when you’ve established yourself as an author, it’s always important to keep improving your writing. In addition to studying the styles of other authors, I read lots of non-fiction books on the craft of writing. When I first started out, I read books that focused an entire book on one technique: plot, dialogue, creating characters, theme, and the art of storytelling. The first book that I read that showed me how to structure a novel was How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey. Also, Stephen King’s On Writing is an inspirational gem. For any fiction writer I highly recommend three books by Donald Maas: Fire in Fiction, Writing the Breakout Novel, and Writing 21st Century Fiction. For horror writers, I recommend: On Writing Horror, The Writer’s Workshop of Horror, and especially How to Write Horror Fiction by William Nolan. The bobble-head of Dexter was a Christmas gift. I love me some Dexter.
On another shelf, I have a copy of Stephen King’s Under the Dome and Nightmares & Dreamscapes (his photo facing me is a constant reminder that being a prolific writer and putting all your hours in typing up stories eventually pays off).
I also have a collection of signed copies of books by fellow Samhain Horror authors I’ve had the privilege of sitting next to at book signings. Some established and upcoming authors include: John Everson, Hunter Shea, Jonathan Janz, Kristopher Rufty, Ronald Malfi, Adam Cesare, Frazer Lee, Damien Walters Grintales, Russell James, David Bernstein, Mick Ridgewell, and W.D. Gagliani.
These are just a few of my books that have highly impacted my career as a horror fiction writer.
Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. His books include Dead of Winter, Shadows in the Mist, The Girl from the Blood Coven, The Witching House, and The Devil’s Woods. The Vagrants comes out May 2014. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is joyfully writing his next horror novel. You can join his mailing list at http://brianmoreland.com/