The Horror Bug hit me at an early age. My first infection came when my Mom came home from the store with some comic books. Typical superhero stuff, but I just couldn’t put down Marvel’s Man-Thing. The combination of lurid, nightmarish artwork and pulse-pounding characters and story drove me into a fever. The Horror Bug mutated, turned viral, and once you go viral…well, there’s no coming back from that. Comics led to Ray Bradbury, The Hardy Boys, even television shows like The Night Stalker, and Night Gallery. I kept my Creepy and Eerie comics close at hand while hiding the Vampirella comics at the bottom of the stack, away from my mother’s prying eyes. A friend of my father’s handed down a well-worn, dog-eared copy of The Stand by Stephen King. I read that book, then everything else King had written by that time. My temperature rising, I sought out King’s list at the back of his non-fiction book Danse Macabre, haunting the stacks at my local library, reading and rereading his suggestions until the horror virus inside me became terminal and burned so hot that it was time to for me to start spreading the disease.
So here we are. This is about as viral as you can get and still live to tell others about it.
Over forty years of reading horror fiction has convinced me of two things; I’ll never run out of books to read, and those books that first captured my imagination are usually even sweeter the second time around. There are several books from my youth that I’ve read several times over just because they simply get better with each visit. Everyone has a favorite book or two, or three, or a hundred, they revisit on a regular basis. There’s something about letting those characters hang around in your head again, letting your mind’s eye take in all the scenery. It feels like home, even if you know that just around the corner, some evil monster is lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce. Hell, it probably feels perfect at that point, being that close to the horror.
This is why we read horror, to get as close as possible to the scary stuff without getting our hands dirty. Those scary stories that enthralled us so long ago are doorways we can reopen whenever we want. And even though we know what happens at the end, each time we visit we get a little closer to the source. We can get as close as we want because in the end, it’s just a book.
It is just a book, right?
Just like Stephen King’s famous book list at the end of Danse Macabre, I’ve compiled a record of books that have inspired me to create stories of my own. I’m honored to come here and share these inspirations with you fine readers. Tattered Tomes is my personal journey into revisiting the stories I cut my teeth on, and I hope that you fine readers will find as much joy in the books as I have, even if it’s your first time with these timeless tales. I will also be weighing on newer books, films, and horror comics in a more formal setting here, further facilitating the virus as its needs grow exponentially.
Horror is truly a virus, and has spread well beyond the initial outbreak stage. There is no cure, and that’s fine with me. Since you’re here, I’m sure you feel the same way.