Sinister Spooks – Earliest Exposure to Horror Writing

Many children aspire to be artists, teachers, astronauts, firemen, etc. growing up. I had a fascination with true crime documentaries and medical programs at a young age. So a couple of my career aspirations included becoming a forensic scientist or a cardiac surgeon. Those two interests meshed together into an interest in horror later on. I enjoyed horror movies, but discovering horror writing changed my world as a writer.

I guess you could say my first exposure to Gothic/horror-like writing was “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket.  Those were the first books to expose me to the possibility of stories not having happy endings, which sounds kind of depressing. (I guess it kind of is.) But they also showed the Baudelaire children continuing on despite the…well…unfortunate events they encountered in each book. To this day, I try to take that pattern to heart when I feel kicked down. But, as a little kid, learning about not everything having a happy ending jars you initially. That felt exciting to me, though.

Junior high gave me the exposure to true horror literary classics in my Reading class. My teacher had us open our textbooks to our reading for the day: “The Telltale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe. I did read a tiny bit of Poe in middle school, but I was a bigger fan of Robert Frost then. (I even did a book report on a biography about him.) I never experienced Poe’s short stories and only really read “The Raven”, “Annabel Lee”, and “To Helen” in my personal poetry compilation. I was excited!

The poeticism he managed to combine with the narrative fascinated me stylistically; I hadn’t found a short story that gave me that feeling before then. The twists and turns kept me (literally) on the edge of my chair. (I think I even got a little bit of a look from my teacher because I would read ahead of the person who was reading for the class.) That story captivated me so much that I bought a complete collection of Poe’s work and read through it like a fiend.

As the years went on, I discovered Stephen King and Joe Hill along with other notable horror writers and enjoyed their work. I also got more into thrillers and suspense, especially ones focused around crime. My fascination with the world of all that is scary, creepy, or morbid has only grown stronger, and I love it to the point where I have a whole horror novel outlined for whenever the time is right to start a novel. It’s my favorite genre, and I’m proud to love it like the little weirdo I am.

How do you feel about horror stories/novels? Let me know in the comments so we can chat!

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