RA for All...The Road Show!

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

31 Days of Horror: Day 27-- A Horror Loving Librarian in a Non-Horror Loving Town?

Today I am featuring a librarian I met on my travels this fall, Linda B. Adams [bio below]. She is a horror reader and writer who takes her RA responsibilities very seriously.  Below she talks about her love of horror, her feelings about providing the best RA Service to her patrons as possible [regardless of their personal reading preferences], and not assuming that readers aren’t willing to try something new...especially in October.

This piece is short, but packed full of general RA service and great horror authors who are perfect suggestions for public library patrons.

Before we get to Linda, this is a reminder that October is almost over. Halloween will be here in a few short days. Please, I hope you have tried to suggest at least 1 horror book this season or, even better, opened your mind to trying something yourself.

Now here is Linda...


If, according to T.S. Eliot, April is the cruelest month, October is the coolest month.  At least for me.  As a horror aficionado, it’s the month that fits my soul.  I grew up reading H.P. Lovecraft, Gahan Wilson, and Richard Matheson and graduated into the darkness of Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum.  Always, of course, my reading was seasoned with a healthy dose of Stephen King.

As a reader and writer, it made sense for me to end up working in a library.  As a book lover, one of the best parts of my job is RA.  Clearly my tastes run to the weird, macabre, and horrific.  Even more clearly, that’s not necessarily what my patrons are looking for when they ask for book recommendations.  Still, what we want is the same thing—a book that pulls us in and makes us a different person than who we were before we read that book.  We come to the written word—fiction or nonfiction—for the experience.

Most of the time when I do RA I suggest books that I’ve never read and often don’t plan to.  Because it’s not about me and it’s not about what I’ve read.  What it is about is the business of books, which happens to be the business I’m in.  We ‘sell’ our product best when we give the customer what he or she came in looking for.  And if we do our job right, that person will be a repeat customer.

I work in a library whose adult patronage is not much interested in the horror genre.  However, once in a while I’ll recommend a Robert McCammon or a Joe Lansdale.  And my heart soars.

Now here it is October.  The time when even the most faint-hearted of readers is looking for something that will put some ice in their blood.  As librarians, one of our jobs is to stretch the minds of our patrons.  To help them discover new authors and new worlds.  In October, I can say, “Have you tried Dan Simmons?  Or Simon Clark?  How about Douglas Clegg?”  And then I gently suggest they keep the lights on and the doors locked.


Linda B. Adams is the Director of the Reading Room Association of Gouverneur, NY and a member of the Horror Writers Association.  When she’s not at the library, she’s usually writing, teaching writing, or reading.  You can find her on Twitter @lindabwriter. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

31 Days of Horror: Day 26: Review of The Sleepless

This is the third and final installment of my series on African Horror. I will end with a review. I hope this is helpful to my primarily Western audience, so that you can see how easy it is to suggest this diverse title to a wide range of horror readers.

Today I have a review of The Sleepless by Nuzo Onoh.  In the interest of full disclosure, I did receive an e-ARC of this title from the author in exchange for an honest review. Here is the plot description via Goodreads:
An innocent boy is lured to his death by the one person that should have protected him. Someone knows the truth about his disappearance; his little sister, Obele, a child that hears a secret voice which tells her terrible things no child should know about. Obele knows too much and must be killed. Her salvation lies in the hands of her new friends, a group of giggling little girls she meets at an abandoned "cursed house." Except their friendship comes with a terrible price. And suddenly, Obele starts to ask herself who exactly...or rather, what exactly are her new friends. Worse, how can she free the tormented ghost of her dead brother, trapped by a witchdoctor's curse? Set amidst the Biafran War, "The Sleepless" follows one child's struggles against both the natural and supernatural forces that threaten to end her life before the deadly enemy bombs can do so. And perhaps, death from the skies is a better option than the terrifying alternative. "The Sleepless" - Another chilling tale about the restless and vengeful dead by the Queen of African Horror, Nuzo Onoh."
The seamless blending of a true life, horrific situation with supernatural “monsters" is the biggest appeal here.  As Onoh writes here, she has lives through the real life horror of the Biafran War and domestic abuse. She draws on her personal experiences with real life horrific events and writes about them with skill; however, it is in how she incorporates the supernatural monsters into the story where this book shines as Horror. The monsters-- real and otherworldly-- bring the fear in equal measures, so much so that as a reader, you start to believe that the supernatural threats are just as real as the human created ones.  As a result, the novel is permeated by an intense sense of dread that never lets up. [This is huge praise for a horror novel for those of you new to the genre.]

Much of this success is the result of Onoh’s ability to capture the place, Africa, and it’s dangers so effortlessly. Yes the woods have wild animals, but they also contain witches, ghosts, and ghouls that can and will insert themselves into the human world. Many writers have grown up in places where this folklore was a part of their every day life [the Southern Gothic tradition is an example], but not all can capture it for the outsider as well as she did here. It took me a while after completing this book to stop looking for witches around every corner.... in the Chicago suburbs! Talk about feeling the fear.

The pacing is also brisk. The novel covers about two years of actual time and a lot happens, but Onoh clearly knew where she wanted this story to go and moves the reader along swiftly, keeping the blood, the fear, and the plot twists coming. You will want to read this book in as few sittings as possible.

The characters here-- both good and evil-- are well developed. In the case of the protagonist this is wonderful, as we easily fall into her plight and want to follow her on her difficult journey. But writing a sympathetic, well developed protagonist is one thing, here Onoh is also able to craft terrifyingly realistic bad guys-- like Obele’s father-- with enough detail that they move beyond stereotype.

I also appreciated learning about the Biafran War by reading this novel. Although I had heard of this  war and knew a few surface details about it, I gained a larger understanding of its importance and devastating influence. So for that reason alone, many readers may want to read this novel.

I do want to mention that this book has two very big limiters-- the obviously mentioned violence against children, but more importantly, the book opens with a visceral scene involving a dead cat. If I have learned nothing else over my 16+ years of working with readers it is that when you kill a cat or a dog, people get angry. So I am passing that info on to help make your hand selling of this title easier.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Intense Dread, Fast Paced, Strong Characters

Readalikes: I already spent the last 2 days, here and here, writing about other African horror authors so I am not going to list any of those readalikes in this post.

Rather, I want to focus on readalikes that are a little more familiar to you.

Here are some books that also feature child narrators and monsters which are seamlessly integrated into  a true horror situation, making the terror feel all the more real:

Here are some other female horror writers who incorporate ancient evil into their terrifying horror novels:
If you are looking for other books that use a real life war as the backdrop to a horror novel, I would suggest:
Finally, if you are interested in a horror writer who draws off of African myths and themes but in a more familiar America setting, you NEED to read the work of Tananarive Due. I wrote about her work here on the blog back in 2011. Personally, I am a big fan of the African Immortals series which begins with My Soul to Keep.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

31 Days of Horror: Day 25-- Guest Post on African Horror with the Queen of the Subgenre-- Nuzo Onoh

For part 2 of my 3 days series on African horror, I asked Nuzo Onoh to talk about herself, her own works, her devotion to publishing and promoting African horror, and the writers she loves.

I have to say, this is one of my best author guest posts as Onoh is not only a good writer, but she is also very smart and thoughtful.

I know every library worker will learn  something from this post and that makes me very excited.


Tell us about Yourself 
My name is Nuzo Onoh and I write a horror subgenre I refer to as African horror. Re-defining the term, "African Horror", has been my passion as a writer. I’ve been championing the term as a bona-fide horror subgenre, just like Scandinavian, Korean, Japanese horror, etc, rather than a negative condition of the continent as mostly portrayed by the popular media. I have written three African Horror books to date - The Reluctant Dead (28th June, 2014) Unhallowed Graves (28th June 2015) and The Sleepless (28th June 2016). I’ve also featured in multiple radio/tv/print/online interviews discussing the unique freshness of African Horror and I feel very honoured that the world’s longest running magazine of cult entertainment, Starburst Magazine, featured their first African Horror author, my humble self, in both their online and print magazine. (issue 427)

As a child, I grew up with ghost stories told during the tales by moonlight sessions. We kids would gather around my uncle who’d tell us stories about scary ghosts. Other storytellers at the moonlight tales would tell us different stories, nice stories about animals and wicked stepmothers, but I wasn’t interested. My uncle’s ghost stories were the main thrill for me. Moreover, since we Igbos bury our dead in our homes and not in cemeteries, I grew up surrounded by the graves of my immediate family in our back garden. The graves-stones were our play-pen. The brutal war between my people, the Biafrans and the Nigerians, also exposed me to death on a daily basis. Consequently, by the time I was old enough to read my first novel, my fascination in the supernatural, especially ghosts, was firmly entrenched. Amos Tutuola’s ghost book, The Palmwine Drinkard (1952), introduced me to the written world of ghosts, replacing the oral ghost story-telling tradition I had hitherto known. When eventually I stumbled across Stephen King’s The Shinning (1977) years later, I was totally hooked on ghost stories. Film-wise, I would watch Ju on (The Grudge), Insidious, The Sixth Sense, A Christmas Carol or see Sadako crawl out of the television in The Ring any day over most horror films. So it goes without saying that when I decided to write my African Horror books, it would all be about ghosts, African ghosts with unfinished business.

Sadly, due to the uniqueness of my works, agents and traditional publishers have been reluctant to take the chance with such unchartered waters so I’ve been publishing my books under my own
imprint, Canaan-Star Publishing UK and vigorously promoting the genre. Today, I’m proud to say that my perseverance is yielding dividends and African Horror is now gaining more recognition in horror circles worldwide. These days, I’m being called upon by radio stations to discuss current news topics from the African continent especially those that relate to issues featured in my books. Otherwise, I spend my days trying to get my teenager to engage in conversation with me or if all else fails (as it inevitably does with taciturn teenagers), try to get my cat, Tinkerbell, to become the first talking cat in the world.

So, what exactly is African Horror? 
Africa has a cesspool of terrifying supernatural entities which very few cultures can rival in their sheer volume and malevolence. Coupled with the intense superstitious beliefs of the various tribes, it becomes apparent that African Horror as a genre, has a lot to offer. African Horror is therefore in my view, horror stories about any of the myriad of African supernatural entities, superstitions and practices, set in Africa with African protagonists in the main, depicting core African culture within a supernatural horror context. As is the case with most regional works of horror, I’ve adopted a thematic approach in my books. Africa is an immense continent with a diverse culture which can only be truly appreciated with this type of approach. I have opted to write about ghosts, since in my culture, the Igbo culture, the supernatural is accepted as a part of everyday living. Most of my writing is themed around supernatural vengeance from beyond the grave by ghosts with unfinished business. There is a strong moral element to my stories. Karma plays an important role, with ghostly vengeance for wrong-doings featuring frequently in the tales. Like the Japanese onryƍ or Vengeful Ghost, African ghosts become more powerful in death than in life and need the intervention of diviners or “witchdoctors” for exorcism rites. Unlike Western ghosts who can be benign, funny, mischievous or plain stupid, there’s nothing funny about African ghosts. These are ghosts with a mission, deadly or benign. These are ghosts shrouded in deep culture and mystery. They’re powerful, vengeful, wise, omnipotent and dangerous. They’re a new type of ghost horror fans are yet to come across unless they’re Africans. My books explore Igbo myths, superstitions and lore amidst hauntings, possessions, manifestations and supernatural occurrences. All the stories are set in Igboland, Old Biafra, in
present day Nigeria. I’ve tried to show how burial customs, deaths, Christianity, colonization and superstitions have affected African/Igbo beliefs in the afterlife, reincarnation and haunting.

Why do you love horror? 
Horror adds excitement to my life, brings in the thrill and oompff that’s otherwise absent in my daily existence unless a special occasion or unexpected event brings it into my experience. Like the highs sought by addicts, I live for that special shiver of anticipation the sight of a good horror book or film brings. I’m like a child who can’t wait to see what Santa’s left under the tree. The wonderful thing is getting lost in this mysterious, terrifying dark world, praying everything turns out alright in the end, even as you know you’ll derive immense satisfaction if it doesn’t. My everyday life always seems so mundane after I emerge from my fantasy world of horror. Yet, it always seems safer, saner, nicer and purer at the same time and that’s what I think keeps me returning to horror, knowing that my very ordinary life is infinitely better than the exciting terrors in the pages and screens of horror-world.

What’s your writing style? 
When I write, I write as if I’m the reader. I write the way I like to read, no frills, no unnecessary scenes, boring long-winded backstory, dump-in-bin secondary characters…I just get on with the story and let my characters tell it the way they want. I’ve always been an impatient reader who likes to know what’s happening without being bored with excessive descriptive narratives and long-winded conversations between very minor characters who do nothing to drive the story. I want to know everything… everything, no matter how terrible or harrowing. Don’t treat me with kid’s gloves. Give it to me as it is. So, I guess my writing style reflects my reading style, fast, direct, no holds barred. I sprinkle my work with Igbo words, which my readers find easy to understand as they follow the storyline. It makes it authentically African. I also try to highlight the unique culture, superstitions and beliefs of the Igbo tribe within the supernatural narrative that’s the hallmark of my work. Ritual murders of innocent children by evil witchdoctors, children accused of witchcraft, widows forced to drink “corpse water” used in washing the putrid corpses of their husbands, malevolent
haunting by the ghosts of people buried in bad forests, unhallowed grounds …these are just some of the harrowing themes in your books. Why do you write such disturbing works?

My personal life has been a brutal one with lots of deaths, abuse and violence. I pull on my experiences when writing my stories, experiences which my readers find unbelievable and disturbing. But I write them because like bad junk, I have to get them out of my head. My writing is therefore in most cases, a personal exorcism for me, even as I weave in the horror elements of ghostly manifestations into the narrative. There are also aspects of my African culture I object to even as I love so much of my heritage. I choose to address them in my books. Fantasy gives us the freedom to say things we would never otherwise say, hang out the dirty linen without worrying about nosy neighbor spying and bitching about it, reach for the stars and Nirvana with or without the world rooting for you. Fantasy is the ultimate release, unchained freedom and in my world of horror, I am finally free in a way I could never hope to be in my ordinary real life. There’s a lot of badness and goodness in this world. I’ve experienced both and in my writing, I share them with the world in the hope that it might make a perpetrator think twice and a survivor, rejoice.

Tell us about your books
My first African Horror book was The Reluctant Dead, published on 28th June 2014, incidentally, a date I have chosen to publish all my books. The Reluctant Dead is a collection of six short ghost stories. It was my gentle introduction to African Horror and showcased the uniqueness of the new horror subgenre. In it we see the ghost of a spurned wife return to wreak terrible vengeance on her husband and his mistress and we follow the travails of a young boy who is a night-flyer, trying to break a century-long curse on his bloodline by an angry ghost. These are just a couple of the stories in the book. I followed it up with Unhallowed Graves, published 28th June 2015. This is a collection of three Novellas, long stories, which goes in-depth into the dark terrors of my culture. It features my first white protagonist, a scornful diplomat, who is forced to confront the terrible secrets to The Night Market run by the dead after his wife buys him an unexpected gift from the market. Unhallowed Graves has so far proved the most popular work I’ve done to date. My latest book is a full novel, The Sleepless, published 28th June 2016. One of my reviewers said that she started dreaming of demons possessing her child after reading the book, that was how harrowing it was for her. I held nothing back when writing The Sleepless. It is African Horror unchained, starting with the gruesome ritual murder of a disabled child. I am working on my fourth African Horror novel due out 28th June 2017. The working title will be either “Disturbed” or Iwe (Fury). I am also working on an anthology piece for an American publisher also due out next year.

Finally, tell us about your favourite authors/books 

The Palmwine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola. Now a modern African classic, this book is like no other except maybe, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by the same author! It’s fantastical, crazy, weird, hilarious, imaginative…I can’t say enough about this book, which incidentally was my very first introduction to horror. Discover ghosts as you’ve never seen them before; read dialogue that just blows your mind with its novelty. Some literary snobs initially slammed the book for the unbelievable grammatical errors that litter the narrative till they came to realise that this was precisely what made the book special, authentic, different and like no other, ever!

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. Another modern classic, a war story depicting the tragic heroism of the three hundred Spartans that sacrificed their lives to save Western democracy from Islamization. This book is so haunting that it stays with you for the rest of your life. The narrative voice is powerful, lyrical, masterful… truly unforgettable. So many scenes leave your skin with goose pimples while the tears just flow heedlessly. I have read this book four times and each time, I discover something new, the goose pimples still come and my tears still flow.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo. I think almost the whole world have read this book J. If they haven’t then they are missing a ride of a lifetime! This medium is not enough to say all the reasons why I love this amazing book. All I can say is, “this book is THE GREATEST!”

Spook Lights by Eden Royce. This book is amazing and unique as it’s also an emerging genre, Southern Gothic Horror, depicting the Gullah culture and written by a native Gullah writer. I love this book because there are many similarities between the Gullah culture and the Igbo culture that I write about, not to mention the graceful and lyrical prose that is the hallmark of Eden Royce’s works. An absolutely brilliant read.

Monday, October 24, 2016

31 Days of Horror: Day 24-- Trend Alert: African Horror

Today marks the beginning of a 3 day series on the very hot trend of African Horror. While this trend is still emerging in America, it has already begun to move into the mainstream as a popular subgenre of British horror thanks in large part to the work of Nigerian-British author, BBC contributor, and lawyer, Nuzo Onoh. Onoh is not only one of the most heralded writers of African horror, she is also its biggest promoter. She has made it her goal to educate the world on this thriving and vibrant subgenre.

We will hear from Onoh herself in a guest post written to you, the American library worker, tomorrow, but for today, I wanted to give you a very quick primer on African horror, point you to a few resources to explore on your own, and give you authors to check out.

 Let’s start with a primer. What is African horror? Well, in 2015, Onoh had this wonderful top 10 list explaining what African horror is and also, very importantly, is not
1. African Horror is not a reference to AIDS, famine or Ebola, just as Indian Horror is not a reference to rapes or honour killings. African Horror is a literary genre in its own right, a sub-genre of horror that has existed for centuries, albeit without a formal title till my book, The Reluctant Dead, began spearheading the term, African Horror. 
2. African Horror encompasses several horror sub-genres like supernatural horror, psychological horror, demonic/occultic horror, sci-fi horror (popularised by Nnedi Okoroafor) slasher/gore/splatter horror and paranormal romance to mention a few. My books are focused on African supernatural horror, specifically, ghosts and hauntings. 
3. Just like the old Japanese Kaidan tradition, African Horror stories are geographically targeted, depicting the core traditions, beliefs and superstitions of a particular village/tribe within a horror context. Thus, my books, The Reluctant Dead and Unhallowed Graves will resonate with anyone familiar with The Ring or The Grudge. 
4. African Horror is usually steeped in the moral values of individual tribes, with most stories reinforcing these values and the dire consequences of ignoring or abandoning them. Thus, in Unhallowed Graves, we witness the terrible events that befall a grieving mother who goes against the village traditions and attempts to resurrect her son buried in Ajo-ofia, the unhallowed burial ground of people deemed to have died an unclean or bad death. 
5. African Horror has a strong cinema presence in Nollywood films, a Nigerian film industry that produces popular drama, depicting terrifying supernatural events within an Igbo/African setting. 
6. Amos Tutuola, the famous author of The Palm-wine Drinkard and My Life in the bush of Ghosts, is the father of African Horror. His books are considered modern classics today and have been translated into several languages. 
7. Africans respect, fear, revere or abhor their Medicine men. Some cultures refer to them as Juju-men, Root-healers, Voodoo-men or witchdoctors. By whatever name they go, they all boil down to one thing - powerful men (and at times, very rarely, women) whose actions, good or bad, always impact on the daily lives of their people. No African Horror story is ever complete without reference to these powerful and controversial Medicine-men. 
8. The Gullah culture of the American South has very strong ties to African culture and their horror stories are very similar to African horror. Today, Eden Royce, author of the book, Spook Lights and one of the few people that still speak the Gullah language, is spear-heading the Southern Gothic Horror, steeped in Gullah beliefs and culture. People that love Southern Gothic Horror will enjoy African Horror too. 
9. African Horror stories are not Folktales, contrary to popular conception. These days, modern African Horror is written in prose and style similar to mainstream horror, which readers from all over the globe can relate to. My last book, The Reluctant Dead, enjoyed wide readership from fans worldwide, proving that true horror does indeed cross all boundaries. My latest book, Unhallowed Graves, follows in the same style, while retaining its distinct African voice. 
10. Finally, African Horror books and films are out there for anyone interested in discovering the terrifying tales from our mysterious continent. Unfortunately, due to the unsatisfactory classification of literary works, one is likely to find African horror books under "Multicultural" rather than under "Horror". Hopefully, in the near future, an overhaul of the classification system will see more horror works by Africans writers and non-African writers writing African Horror, classified under their rightful category - Horror.
In that list, Onoh mentions the late, Amos Tutuola whose works can be found in many American public libraries, but I would bet you don’t have a horror sticker on them.  Back then, we classified these books as African “Mythology,” but they are horror-- loud and proud. Yes, Tutuola’s works, like many African horror writers use the monster from folklore as a starting point, but so do Western authors.  How soon we forget that the entire concept of a zombie began in Haitian culture. Yes, it has evolved from that kind of zombie in the last few decades, but that is where it began. Yet, we do not call zombie tales “mythology.”

Also, since humans have lived on the African continent far longer than here in America, they have a huge number of awesome monsters in their storytelling tradition to draw off of.

In fact, I would like to argue in this post today that if you have a typical American horror fan, especially one who has “read it all,” your best place to take that reader is to the rich and vibrant history of African horror and its awesomely terrifying world of monsters. 

Click here for a list from Mental Floss on 11 legendary [and terrifying] monsters from all across Africa with an attribution to their country of origin. This is just a glimpse into the source material for an entire continent of horror fiction inspiration.

Please do not worry about a white person from a typical American suburb not being able to relate to these African tales. That is a cop out. If your reader is a horror fan already, that is all of the necessary background he or she will need to fall right into these stories and love the terror that follows. It all is based on the same appeal factors. It is just the monsters themselves who are a little different.

I should also point out that I am mostly writing about African horror written by authors from Nigeria and South Africa because their work is the most easily found in English.

You can click here to read about a brand new anthology of African horror writers with 10 authors you can read right now, including Onoh. Here is the table of contents with links to the authors’ Goodreads pages [where applicable]. The links will lead you to more authors and more story compilations by the very best African horror authors today:
“Daughter Dearest” by Chioma Odukwe – A woman who has just lost her husband finds herself in danger of losing her daughter as well and goes to desperate lengths to keep her in this unusual zombie story.
“Shame” by Nerine Dorman – A biracial couple try to find acceptance during South Africa’s post-apartheid transition period but find themselves confronted with a devastating horror instead. 
“Sleep Papa, Sleep” by Suyi Davies Okungbowa – A mistake made during a taboo trade leaves a young man in modern Lagos desperate to rid himself of something terrifying from beyond the grave. 
“Blood and Fire” by Sawaleh – Religious corruption in one of Africa’s largest Megachurches provokes an ancient and unspeakable horror that seeks to punish, corrupt and feed. 
“Koi-Koi” by Raymond Elenwoke – One of Nigeria’s most prevalent and persistent urban legends is given an origin story in this frightening interpretation of the Lady Koi-Koi mythos. 
“Eaters Of Flesh” by Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso  – A young university student is confronted by mysterious events involving his parents that threaten his sanity and his life. 
“Afin” by Edwin Okolo – Twisting the Snow White fairy tale in surprising ways and transposing it to pre-colonial Nigeria, the court of a king is thrown into disarray when his older wives pit themselves against his youngest. 
“Hadiza” by Nuzo Onoh – A man’s greed and lust lead him to divorce his faithful and loyal wife, an action that has dire consequences in this Nollywood-Horror style tale.
“The Wild Dogs” by Mandisi Nkomo – A Swedish woman volunteers to help fight a strange disease consuming Cape Town and comes faces to face with monstrous inhumanity. 
“Udu” by Damilare Falowo – A village girl and her newborn child are thrown into a cursed forest to die but in the forest she finds vengeful things that are worse than death. 
with an Introduction by Wole Talabi
I wanted to end by reminding you that there are some bigger name African writers of dark speculative fiction who you have in your libraries and who take the time to promote their lesser known colleagues including Lauren Beukes, Sarah Lotz, and Nnedi Okorafor. [Not surprisingly, 2 out of those 3 are white.] Let’s start with the known authors, and begin to branch out from there. You don’t want to miss out on this trend. Take advantage of its spike in popularity to grab some new reads for your patrons.
Tomorrow, Onoh, the true expert, will be here with a guest post, and then Wednesday, I will have a review of her latest novel, The Sleepless, which has already garnered heaps of praise across Great Britain. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

31 Days of Horror: Day 23-- A Bevy of Best Lists

One of the best things about this time of year is that it is the only time of year that everyone and their sister [uncle, cousin, step brother's, best friend’s girlfriend, etc...] is out there posting their horror “best lists.”

Of course I love that I am getting an assist in helping you help horror readers, but there is a larger reason why I love this.  What is "horror" is such a personal thing.  What scares one person may not make another feel any terror. The more people we have compiling lists of what they find to be the "scariest" or "best" horror books, the more readers we can help.

The more people we have compiling their “best” horror lists, the more voices we have in the conversation, the more readers we can help. When we all add our voices of what we love more about horror, we represent a wider range of readers.

So today, I am helping with two lists my husband found for me from one of his favorite sources for book [actually all pop culture] coverage-- Paste Magazine:

Almost all of the books on the second lists can be found in my book or here on the blog, so if a title looks interesting to you, use the search bar in the top right of the blog to find out more. 

If you have a great list you found or made, please leave the link in the comments. Let’s all work together to help every reader.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

31 Days of Horror: Day 22-- Scary Book Display Contest from Booklist

Today I am passing on a contest from Booklist to win a free subscription or a box of books! And all you have to do is take a picture of the awesome display you probably already have up at your library.

It is all only through Facebook. Details here and below:

You know book displays are a great way to get crafty with your class or engage your patrons right as they come in the door. Show us what you're scaring up for Halloween this year!

First place: a free subscription to Booklist, including 22 issues a year, 4 issues of Book Links, and all the digital content that goes along with it!

Second place: a box of spooky books for adult readers

Third place: a box of spooky books for young readers

Then vote for your favorite photo by clicking on the vote button above. The winners are determined by popular vote so spread the word!

An example display made by the Booklist Staff

Friday, October 21, 2016

31 Days of Horror: Day 21-- Essay, "The Life and Afterlife of Horror Fiction"

I am not the only librarian out there who is serious about horror. This past summer I came across an essay by academic librarian, John Glover:
John Glover is a librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he supports humanities research and instruction, contributes to various digital humanities projects, and studies quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore. He has chapters forthcoming on Supernatural Horror in Literature and Laird Barron’s Old Leech stories. He also studies the research practices of writers, and last year he co-taught “Writing Researched Fiction” in VCU’s Department of English. He publishes fiction and literary essays as “J. T. Glover,” and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pseudopod, Thinking Horror, The Lovecraft eZine, and Nightscript, among other venues.
How did I know about it? Well because he quotes me and references my book [which by the way, can be bought as an eBook right now. You can start using it today and then use the archives of this blog to supplement it. I consider this blog the free update to the book-- shameless plug over].

Back to Mr. Glover. The essay is entitled, "The Life and After Life of Horror Fiction." From one of the opening paragraphs:

"If it weren’t for the rise of the web and its capacity to perpetuate both communities and content, the term “horror” would largely have fallen out of use by now to describe the genre. As things stand, however, I feel that we’re currently in the middle of two waves of fiction that could rightly be called “horror,” each as similar and distinct as the Gothic and the pulps. One of these waves is essentially the long tail of the last boom, and the other is a new formation built from literary fiction, a new attention to sociocultural concerns, and explicit engagement with the genre’s history. The coexistence of these two waves has caused anxiety in the field, not least because the word “horror” itself became anathema after the market crash of the mid-1990s. Many authors working today take a nuanced approach to writing horror—heavily informed by the lessons of the boom."
While my focus is on the readers of horror and how to match the books with them, Glover is more focused on the literature of horror itself.  This is a very insightful and interesting article that will give you a larger view picture of the current state of horror.

It also serves as a way to look at what we do-- matching readers with books-- from the other side of the equation. It may sound like semantics, but think about it. We, rightfully, start with the reader in front of us and then try to find the correct book for that reader. This is the correct way for us to have the RA interaction. But, sometimes it helps to step out of your focus for a second and take a look at things from the other side of the coin. Taking a moment to begin with the books themselves, gives you a chance to look with fresh eyes at the patron in front of you. It gives you a different perspective and makes you think.

So thanks to Glover for being the "Bizzaro Becky." Check out his essay. I promise you will learn something about the current state of horror fiction.