Searchlight: Where Nightmares Come From

Where Nightmares Come FromMany authors say you shouldn’t read books on how to write fiction. They feel writing is too subjective an art form to be narrowed down into a set of rules. While there’s a lot of truth in that sentiment, that statement also sounds like a rule, and you know what they say about rules. Personally, writing books have helped in too many ways to list. Think of the advice as just that; suggestions, not rules. Everyone is different, and one writer may handle an issue in a way that conflicts with others, but for whatever reason, works wonders for your own work. I say: Read them all, some will really resonate with you, others may not. A really good one that’s come out recently is Where Nightmares Come From: The Art of Storytelling in the Horror Genre, edited by Joe Mynhardt and Eugene Johnson.

Starting off with an introduction by the legendary William F. Nolan, this reference guide features essays by some of the best in the horror fiction business. Writers, editors, screenwriters, publishers, all have something to say about the art of storytelling, and these are people that have their finger on the pulse of the industry. In other words, they know what they’re talking about. Throughout the book, there are also interviews of Jonathan Maberry, Kevin J. Anderson, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Christopher Golden, John Connelly (Charlie Parker series), Stephen King, Richard Chizmar, and Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse series). This book not only covers the prose aspect of horror fiction, but also television series script writing as well, including an essay on how Syfy’s series Z-Nation came into being.

Covering topics such as media tie-ins, the origin of fear, writing non-fiction, creating an anthology, determining the proper medium for your story, creepypasta, storytelling techniques, and much more, this guide definitely does its best to stay current and up-to-date with the genre. Featuring essays by Mort Castle, Ramsey Campbell, Ray Garton, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Lisa Morton, Jess Landry, and Joe R. Lansdale among others, the topics are as varied as the authors. There’s basically something for anyone who wants to write horror fiction.

Rules were made to be broken, but suggestions can go a long way for a writer, especially if you’re just starting out with the craft. For every writer that’s been published without ever reading a writing guide in their life, there are three or four published authors out there who would have never been published if they never read a writing guide. With these outstanding writers at the helm, with a full array of topics, you’ll definitely find something within these pages that will strike your fancy and get you doing what you came for … writing.

BOB PASTORELLA

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