guest post by Adam Nevill
To celebrate the publication of his fourth novel, Last Days (St. Martin’s Griffin) later this month, British horror writer Adam Nevill shares 10 modern novels that made him a better horror writer.
I have a very old-school approach to writing because it’s the only one I know: read the canon of the field you want to contribute to, acquire the craft of good writing and develop a voice. If it takes 10 years or longer, so be it. Here are 10 modern horror novels that just might inspire you to be a better writer.
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
The author achieves an effective suspension of reader disbelief, and a triumph of quiet hero characterization. No book frightens me as much as this one.
The Grin of the Dark by Ramsey Campbell
A dark and blackly comic descent into paranoia and surreal weirdness, by the English master of the modern ghost story. A testament to the power of suggestion over graphic description. Also, a fine rebuff to anyone who believes horror is merely pulp lacking high literary value.
The Terror by Dan Simmons
An extraordinary historical novel, horror novel, and crime thriller all in one story. A monumental feat of multi-sensory descriptive writing too, that actually made me feel cold while under a warm duvet in a modern heated house. Quality writing and epic storytelling.
The Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
One of the best horror novels I have read. An enigmatic, compelling triumph of great lyrical writing and storytelling.
World War Z by Max Brooks
This innovative concept novel that makes you wonder whether the Z war actually happened. I suspect it was the book that launched the recent “George Romero dead rise” subgenre in horror fiction, but I still haven’t read better. Don’t wait for the film, read it!
Every Dead Thing by John Connolly
Like Thomas Harris, I think John Connelly demonstrates, time and time again, the perfect blend of horror and crime fiction. This is the first of his Charlie Parker books.
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
I don’t think the author would thank me for regarding this as a horror novel. From the quality of the writing to the eye-wateringly loathsome villains, to the heartbreaking story, it is a great novel that also disturbs and horrifies and is swollen with a sense of dread.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Everything at stake on every single page. Fiction doesn’t get much grimmer, but nor does it matter as much. One of only a handful of books I have reread three times (and counting).
The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
A powerful slice of domestic horror about orphaned children in an ordinary setting. Dark, perverse, and very disturbing, but exquisitely written.
The Shining by Stephen King
The daddy of modern horror novels, and one which all haunted house novels are compared to (usually unfavorably). Perhaps also the greatest family-in-peril horror novel.
Got anything to add to the list? Find out more about Nevill and his path to publication in a behind-the-book story, and visit his website for more information on Last Days, the story of an independent filmmaker whose comeback project takes a terrifying turn.