Hi. My name is Claire and I am an unashamed horror nerd. I love everything that ranges from bloody and gory, to the tortured and psychological – if it gets my heart beating fast and leaves me looking over my shoulder, then you can consider me a fan. It doesn’t matter if it’s a film, game, comic or book, if it scares the shit out of me then I will love it.
As well as consuming horror, I love creating horror. Up until this year, I was running a series online based on slenderman myth along with Irish mythology called She is The Huntress. After having to cut the series short due to personal disputes, I am now rewriting it as a novel and hope to have it released next autumn. Writing something that will pull people into reading it despite not wanting to see what’s waiting for them on the next page is a thrill in itself, and having got into horror so heavily via books – my parents couldn’t dictate what I read as a child as easily as they could read BBFC ratings on films – my ultimate hope is that I can make others feel the same chill I did.
So, how did I become so enchanted by the genre? These books had a hand in it. Sit back, get comfy, and make sure the door is locked…
Goosebumps: Welcome To Dead House – R.L. Stine (1992, Scholastic)
Who didn’t love Goosebumps back in the day? I discovered this book in my primary school’s library, and was curious about the gorey cover. The plot follows a family that moves into a new house (something I did a fair bit in my youth) and finds that all is what it seems in their new dwelling. Suddenly, zombie children! Fake great uncles! Spooky real estate agents! A dog!
For an eight year old girl, I was holding true terror in my hands as I read along. This book lead me to read through as much of the Goosebumps range of books that I could find in any library I came across, as well as the well-loved TV series, and soon my feet were firmly placed in the genre. I also have a huge amount of admiration for author R.L. Stine who has made his living scaring children senseless. What a wonderful bastard.
Point Horror: Teacher’s Pet – Richie Tankersley Cusick (1991, Scholastic Point)
My cousin/stand-in sister Rox got me into the Point Horror series as came to the end of my time in primary school and found I needed something a little more frightening to whet my wicked whistle. It also introduced me to a whole different type of fear – obsessive people. A naive teenage heroine who loves to write and be scared… oh, I can picture her so clearly.
Suddenly, a handsome, fragile teacher who falls for her – I always pictured him as my old history teacher Mr Clayton – and a demented stalker enter the scene and our heroine is left scared for real! It had everything I wanted in a book, suspense, drama, and a protagonist I could, strangely enough, relate to. Like ghosts, zombies and dentists, obsessive stalkers are fun to fear in fiction, but should be avoided in real life.
Misery – Stephen King (1987, Viking)
I actually borrowed this off my nan (AKA, my reading hero) and found it feeding further into the fears left from Teacher’s Pet. A talented writer, a demented fan, an axe… it was a perfect story. It had a heavy, claustrophobic feel to the whole story, along with the tension that built the longer that our protagonist Paul was kept captive by His Number One Fan Annie.
It opened my eyes to the legend that is Stephen King and his extensive back catalogue of horror and suspense – my particular favourites include Pet Sematary, Carrie and Cell, as well as The Running Man. His writing is sheer perfection, and I implore every horror fan out there to pick up at least one of his books in their lifetime. You won’t regret it.
The Rats – James Herbert (1974, New English Library)
James Herbert was a superb British writer who passed away back in 2013. He was exceptionally talented for painting a gruesome picture involving gore and violence, and I recommend this book to anyone reading this just like it was recommended to me by my mom who read this back when she was my age now.
I love rats.They’re adorable, intelligent little animals and they make wonderful pets – but not the rats in this book. They are vile, disgusting mutated monsters who rise from under London and begin to attack people without provocation. One of their first victims in the book is a baby. Herbert does not shy away from shock and mutilation in his debut novel and it makes for truly unsettling reading.
American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis (1991, Vintage Books)
The odd one out in my selection here, but the book that cemented my fear of human beings and made me question sanity as it stands. This is not a horror book, but it is still shocking, graphic and paints a picture of a deplorable human being in main character Patrick Bateman. Most people will know this story from the iconic performance that Christian Bale gave in the 2000 film adaptation – he based his version of the character on Tom Cruise – but having read the book, I can assure you that the more graphic parts were definitely left out, probably so it would actually get shown in cinemas.
As the book goes on, we are left wondering if anything we are being told by Bateman is true. Is he a psychopath? Is he leaving a bloody trail? Or is he just another jaded yuppie? It is a chilling insight into his mind – as well as a graphic tale of sex, violence and madness.
So there you have it! These are the books that cemented my love for the written fright. As for my currently reading section, here is what I am slowly devouring…
- Red Dragon – Thomas Harris
- House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
- Horns – Joe Hill
- Code Junkie – Jeffrey Koval Jr
If you have any horror book suggestions, or anything to say about the books I’ve spoken about here, please leave me a comment and we’ll have a chat! Until next time friends, take care – are you sure all the doors are locked?
Claire is a foul-mouthed British twenty-something who spends most of her time pretending to be an adult. Her nerd status started from an early age with her dad’s love of sci-fi and developed through a love of gaming, reading and horror. As well as volunteering for a charity, Claire writes about her life with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and mental health over at her blog, as well as tweeting nonsense over as @MouthAndSpoons. The dream is to either make it as a successful writer, or go into mental health research. She lives at home with her equally nerdy husband, their dog Lady, cat Pip and a lot of fish.