What Draws You In?
What makes you watch a horror film or read a chilling novel full of blood or a ghostly short story?
The author of a book draws me in first. I know so many of them since I’ve got published. I’ve always had my favourites like; King, Straub, Herbert, Lumley, Wilson, Clark and Keene all regulars on my bookshelves, before and now. Added to those are new people you try, either because they come recommended or I’ve met them and got on well, or they’ve bought me a cold beer (always a winner).
But after that it’s the cover that draws the ordinary horror fan in. I remember not reading a certain Pan Book of Horror anthology once, because the gross cover put me off and the book smelt earthy, much like the mud covered skulls on the cover. So if the cover speaks to me, then what onto the next tester the back cover blurb.
Now that has to grab you by the short and curlies and pull you into the book when you are not familiar with the author. But what pulls you in? Is it a certain monster, or is it slasher gore, or gentle ghost horror, with people you can relate to. Do heroes or anti-heroes turn you on? Are you more likely to love first person POV, or third person? Do you like zombies or guns, or people fighting against all the odds, or is a bit of titillation part and parcel of your horror bag.
It’s weird but I prefer sci-fi films slightly over horror ones. Yet I read no science-fiction books. I mainly read horror 85% of the time, and my non-horror outings are the odd fantasy book or ancient Egyptian murder mysteries.
So once horror has drawn you in, especially books: what keeps you going back for more?
Is it a type of book, say zombies you like, or the author? Do you read everything by an author you love, even though he/she has a one in three hit and miss ratio? I read tons of Dean R Koontz books years ago; then read one that really sucked and never went back. Also I think I had over-read him and had got bored with the repetitiveness of his storylines. Don’t get me wrong Watchers, Strangers, Lightening and Phantoms are great books, but my journey had ended, I moved on.
Whereas, with F Paul Wilson, Stephen King, Peter Straub and few others I just keep going. Maybe less; sometimes is more. A once a year book, is more than of an event than if you have three books out in a short space of time and you have to find the money to buy them and the time to fit them in your reading schedule. Having published two books with Samhain in the USA, there is another long line of great authors I have to try and find time for.
I always make spaces for at least two authors I’ve not read before. The horror genre maybe a bit more bottom heavy with publishing deals, but there is some great stuff out there. Dig down, some of the stuff you get at conventions from small presses are full of groundbreaking new talent...go on make space for more horror in your life...I do.
Peter Mark May was born in Walton on Thames Surrey England way back in 1968 and still lives nearby in a place you’ve may now of heard of called Hersham. He is the author of Demon, Kumiho, Inheritance [P. M. May], Dark Waters (novella), Hedge End and AZ: Anno Zombie [Samhain].
He also runs Hersham Horror Books publishing five anthologies so far (editing three himself: Alt-Dead, Alt-Zombie and Fogbound from 5) and has somehow found the time to co-found Karōshi Books with Johnny Mains and Cathy Hurren.
He’s had short stories published in genre Canadian & US magazines and the UK & US anthologies of horror such as Creature Feature, Watch, the British Fantasy Society’s 40th Anniversary anthology Full Fathom Forty, Alt-Zombie, Fogbound From 5, Nightfalls and Western Legends The Bestiarum Vocabulum.