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Old 11-28-2014   #1
Robert Adam Gilmour
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Topic Nominated Your favorite mainstream horror books?

Writers whose books you see on the shelves of major bookstores, or even writers who aren't popular at all but look like they are aimed at more of a mainstream audience (maybe Cemetery Dance stuff) or at least the core horror film audience. The type of writers who you wouldn't fully expect to appear on this forum.

Why create this thread here when these writers are talked about so many other places? Because I want to know what a more discriminating lot of readers would recommend.
Sometimes I see many of these writers totally dismissed but other discerning fans love these guys along with the more elegant weird writers.

Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Graham Masterton, Richard Laymon, Guy N Smith, Charles L Grant, Dennis Etchison, Shaun Hutson, Kim Newman, Justin Cronin, Anne Rice, Poppy Z Brite, Sarah Pinborough, Joe Hill, Rick Hautala, Bentley Little, TM Wright, Hideyuki Kikuchi, James Robert Smith, Stephen Mark Rainey, David Niall Wilson, Joe R Lansdale, Edward Lee, Lisa Mannetti, Dennis Wheatley, Nancy Holder, Gemma Files, Nancy Kilpatrick, Rex Miller, Suzy McKee Charnas, James Herbert, Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum, John Skipp, Craig Spector, David J Schow, F Paul Wilson, Whitley Strieber, Robert F Jones, John Shirley, C Dean Andersson/Asa Drake, Chelsea Quinn Yarbo, Michael McDowell, Robert McCammon, Ray Garton, David Morrell, Brian Lumley, Jonathan Aycliffe and so on.

That probably isn't a coherent list, many of them are very different and veer towards the more elegant and intellectual. Ramsey Campbell, Hugh B Cave and Robert Bloch might be writers who get more talk around here but I think as novelists they kind of fit in above. I'm not implying any style has a natural superiority to others.

A lot of these books have dodgy covers but sometimes even they have their allure. I adore lurid when it's highly imaginative and I'm excited by the idea of finding gems among them but I don't think most will be to my taste.

What do you guys like from the above? Feel free to mention any authors you think would fit in.

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Old 11-28-2014   #2
Robert Adam Gilmour
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Re: Your favorite mainstream horror books?

Kikuchi is best known as creator of Vampire Hunter D. Probably sold more to anime, comics and videogame fans in the west than the main horror novel audience.

I've seen a few of the animated films but the only book I read was Demon City Shinjuku, which was painfully cliched at times (the protagonist is an arrogant panty peeking teen who just happens to be a marital arts master who can save the world) but there is some fun over the top imaginative stuff in there. I don't think I would recommend it though.

I quite like that D is really elegant and quiet but has a goofy talking hand.

He has probably around 35 books in English (which I think is not even close to his total output) but the reviews of most of them complain about bad translation but I think it's likely that he just isn't a sophisticated prose writer; the action and descriptions are full of the cliches of manganime and japanese videogames. I doubt that a translator has done all that.

I'd like to read more of his work because I quite like the settings and monsters. His books also tend to have Yo####aka Amano and Jun Suemi illustrations and that doesn't hurt.


Last edited by Robert Adam Gilmour; 11-28-2014 at 07:54 PM..
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Old 11-28-2014   #3
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Re: Your favorite mainstream horror books?

Poor Amano got his first name censored.

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Old 11-28-2014   #4
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Re: Your favorite mainstream horror books?

Tastes, of course, change, to a greater or lesser extent over time. I think it's natural to be more open-minded in some ways when younger and more narrow-minded in others. Case in point: I think in my twenties, I would have thought the Analects is something I 'should' read but would find tedious, and that Anne Rice would be something I enjoyed reading. Now, the Analects is something I enjoy reading, and 'should' read, and Anne Rice is likely neither.

I've noticed in recent years when I try to read the 'blockbuster' style fiction that what was exciting to me when I was younger - this kind of designer panoramic sweep of action - now seems to me stodgy and artificial and I can't work up much of an appetite for it. (Even some of the more prestigious names writing in such a style.)

I have actually read Anne Rice, by the way. I went through an Anne Rice phase, I suppose in the late eighties. I remember particularly enjoying The Vampire Lestat.

Similarly, I have enjoyed a couple of books by Poppy Z. Brite. A lot of the names on the list, I can't comment on at all, not having read them.

If I were snowed up in the middle of Greenland, in some sort of isolated cabin/bunker/lair, and the only books on the shelves were by the authors listed, I think the ones I would be most likely to pick off the shelves would be Clive Barker and Poppy Z. Brite.

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Old 11-28-2014   #5
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Re: Your favorite mainstream horror books?

I've read one Graham Masterton short story: "Pigs Dinner", which was really gory. There was some completely impossible stuff where characters could move around well enough and deceive each other despite whole areas of their bodies being destroyed.
It didn't have much internal logic but it was so crazy and funny that the logic didn't seem to matter so much.

Hell Ghost, you're very picky about this stuff so I couldn't understand why you liked the first House film so much. It's really trashy stuff.
The only thing that impresses me about that film is how hideous the female monster is; otherwise I'd say it's standard 80s schlock.

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Old 11-28-2014   #6
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Re: Your favorite mainstream horror books?

Incidentally, I just feel like commenting on what I believe to be a common misconception. There's this idea that more literary writers are verbose - i.e., that they use language redundantly - because they tend to use longer sentences and a wider vocabulary. In my experience, the opposite is the case, and the more popular writers, while they might use shorter, simpler sentences, are far more redundant in their word usage. Good writing is precisely using the right words for the task, whether that means extraordinary detail, or limpid simplicity.

I just wanted to write that to explain my opinion of blockbusters being stodgy and artificial.

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Old 11-28-2014   #7
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Re: Your favorite mainstream horror books?

I wasn't really searching around, I just happened to remember you liked the film. I've also seen the second and third. The second has some good effects.

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Old 11-28-2014   #8
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Re: Your favorite mainstream horror books?

I've read a few books by Clive Barker and Poppy Z Brite, I really liked a few of their stories and will read more eventually.

My reading of one novel and three shorts by King is mostly negative but I've got a bunch more I want to try.

Some of Ramsey Campbell's short works are brilliant and although people tend to be less positive on the novels, I've heard there are a bunch of great ones.

I'm a big fan of some of Hugh B Cave's pulp era vampire stories and I'd like to see how he did with more time on his hands and no pesky pulp editors; how he made the transition into mostly being a horror novelist. There's quite a lot of his novels.

Robert F Jones books like Bloodsport and Diamond Bogo are supposed to be very strange and of a sensibility unlike most horror writers. He was mostly an outdoors writer. Very macho but I've heard he is unique.

Stephen Mark Rainey is supposed to be a very good Weird Tales sort of writer with lots of monsters. Caitlin R Kiernan has given him strong recommendation.
I ordered one of his books yesterday.

I'm fond of Kim Newman as a writer/talker on horror films. People tend to be enthusiastic about his books.

Michael McDowell is often highly recommended, especially Elementals and some more offbeat sounding books. He was one of the main writers on Beetlejuice and Nightmare Before Christmas, so that encourages me.

Jonathan Aycliffe is often praised, I think even on this forum. For some reason I never saw him mentioned by the main horror writer groups; only seen him mentioned on forums but two weeks ago I saw him on a panel with Joshi and Reggie Oliver (on youtube).

C Dean Andersson does Norse mythology inspired dark fantasy. Bathory made a song inspired by his work. Supposed to be very heavy metal sword and sorcery, which could be good or bad.
Somebody recommended me Crimson Kisses (from when he used the Asa Drake name) when I described the type of horror I liked.

A lot of the others just have me very curious.

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Old 11-28-2014   #9
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Re: Your favorite mainstream horror books?

Clive Barker's Books of Blood and The Damnation Game (which mostly can be considered Weird Fiction too)

Last edited by Spiral; 02-23-2016 at 02:18 PM..
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Old 11-28-2014   #10
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Re: Your favorite mainstream horror books?

Mainstream ? I like early Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs is great horror novel.

I knew that someday I was gonna die / And I knew before I died Two things would happen to me / That number one I would regret my entire life / And number two I would want to live my life over again.
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