My Earliest Literary Horror Influences
A Guest Post by Julianne Snow
I have been a fan of horror since the first moment that I can remember. Books, films – you name it and I will find a way to read it or watch it. I love the momentary feeling that being frightened creates. With it being the season of Halloween and Coffin Hop, I can’t help but remember back to those first books that helped to cement my love of the genre.
The first horror story that I ever read was The Mist by Stephen King. I was around eight years old at the time and I remember being scared by that ominous fog that rolled in. Sometime in the next few days, a layer of light fog rolled over the landscape outside of my window and I can remember the feeling of dread that overcame me. Luckily, the fog bank and my fear passed without incident.
After reading The Mist, I recall asking my elementary school librarian, Mr. Connors if there was an author or book in the horror realm he could recommend to me. I had spent the previous few years reading my brother’s Stephen King novels and my mother’s Robin Cook books and I was looking for something new and different. My elementary school only went as high as grade six at the time, so it’s understandable that there were limited offerings in horror available from Scholastic.
Concerned parents may look at what followed as an interesting reaction to a ten year old’s request to stock horror stories, but Mr. Connor ordered one per month for the school’s library. Whether it was his desire to foster my love of reading or a twisted way to suss out my limitations for horror content, none of it really mattered. I was going to get access to new and exciting reads and I was thrilled!
The first book that came in was Scavenger Hunt by Christopher Pike. Admittedly it was Young Adult Horror and I was used to reading the full-fledged freak outs, but I devoured it nonetheless! I took it home on a Friday and by the time I brought it back the following Monday, I had read it three times. That was the only drawback to being a fast reader – I’d have nothing else to read until the next Scholastic order came in…
After devouring Scavenger Hunt, Mr. Connors tried to push Roald Dahl’s The Witches at me and while it was a good book, it was something I had already read. Knowing that I was unlikely to get any new or gratifying horror reads from my school library for a while, I talked my mother into taking me to the local public library for some time among the stacks.
Now of course I had been there before; mainly to borrow additional works by King and Cook. Admittedly, there were things in these books that had gone over my head the first time I had read them, but reading them again in adulthood has straightened quite a few of those things out. Discovering an author who wrote horror geared a little more toward my current age was like Christmas! As I scoured the racks for more by Christopher Pike, I found titles like Chain Letter, Gimme a Kiss and Slumber Party. It was only a few titles at the time, but I had certainly found something new that I could really get into.
Quite by chance, I happened to glance up at the end of the bookshelves as I was preparing to leave with my new finds and discovered that the librarians had made finding new authors a little easier. Listed on pages of letter-sized paper were recommendations for other authors based on who you already enjoyed. That list held a few names, but they were names I would become very familiar with: Dean Koontz, Caroline B. Cooney, and Richie Tankersley Cusick. I would have to say that Pike and Koontz along with King and Cook kept me quite busy. I was a voracious reader and would pretty much read anything that struck my fancy. Along with horror, I was reading a lot of science fiction mainly from Ray Bradbury, James Herbert and Jack Finney. It was a time of literary exploration and I enjoyed each and every minute of it.
It was while watching Romero’s Night of the Living Dead at the tender age of 6 that solidified Julianne’s respect of the Undead. Since that day, she has been preparing herself for the (inevitable) Zombie Apocalypse. While classically trained in all of the ways to defend herself, she took up writing in order to process the desire she now covets; to bestow a second and final death upon the Undead. As the only girl growing up in a family with four children in the Canadian countryside, Julianne needed some form of escape. Her choice was the imaginations of others which only fostered the vibrancy of her own.
Days with the Undead: Book One is her first full-length book, the basis of which can be found in her popular web serial of the same name. You can find Julianne’s short fiction in Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed, Women of the Living Dead, Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity, along with The Sirens Call. In the next year, she has more stories being released in anthologies including Death by Drive-In, the Coffin Hop Charity Anthology.
One random, lucky commenter will win a digital copy of her novel Days with the Undead: Book One!