The 2017 State of the Horror Address

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Horror lovers thrive on fear. There’s something about the tension, the building suspense, the big reveal of the monster in the final scenes. We crave it, even if we’re reading with all the lights on, or watching the movie from behind our fingers covering our eyes. The stories we read fill our minds with vivid imagery as the characters we’ve come to love fight for survival. We use horror fiction to ease our minds from the painful realities of the world around us.

When the world burns, horror fiction reigns supreme.

And if that’s true, then the world’s been burning steady for about the last ten years, because horror is stronger now than ever, and there’s no light at the end of tunnel. Naysayers love to spew the negative pea-soup attention grabbing statements for all the wrong reasons. Pay them no mind. You really don’t need any convincing, right? The major networks are scrambling to produce the next big hit, and it’s definitely going to be horror themed. And if it’s not horror, then it’ll be weird. Speculative is a word that’s thrown around, a lot, and that’s fine in some cases, because maybe it’s something indescribable, a hybrid of styles and tropes with compelling characters and a story that questions reality. The horror market is so strong right now that the only things fans should worry about is oversaturation. The good news is that as long the fans have any say in the matter, the pipeline is pumping out good stuff on a regular basis. It’s up to you, dear reader, to keep it flowing.

Universal HarvesterIf 2016 was any indication of the direction the market is headed, then Weird is in. The truth is weird fiction hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s been here the whole time, hiding under different labels. Weird is so hot the mainstream is trying their hand at it, often with spectacular results. The time is ripe for weird fiction to flourish, as our love-affair with identity spins in dizzying new directions via social media and the internet. Our reality rarely feels stable, and writers are keen to the vibrations in the cosmos, ready to send a shiver down your spine that won’t end anytime soon.

Fans are seeing writers they’ve loved since the beginning of their careers finally getting the recognition they deserve. Writer’s like Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, Samantha Hunt, and Gemma Files. The list goes on and on. With small presses taking over horror and weird fiction, the big presses feel left out. Most of the big publishers now have imprint houses to tap into the horror craze. Often, with massive commercialism comes a tendency to water the product down, to make it more palpable to the masses. Fortunately, we haven’t noticed much of this yet. Regardless, horror fiction has been making waves, and people are noticing.

What can we expect in 2017? Lots of new books from established writers like Nick Cutter, Ania Ahlborn, Christopher Golden, Tim Lebbon, James DeMonaco and B.K. Evenson, Steve Rasnic Tem, along with new releases by newer writers making giant splashes like Bracken MacLeod, Philip Fracassi, Josh Malerman, John Darnielle, and Kristi Demeester, as well as fan-favorites like Stephen Graham Jones and Jeremy Robert Johnson. The list goes on and on. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, only piles and piles of books. Readers are pickier than ever, and editors are quite aware. Writers are bringing their A-game with every release, pushing the boundaries of horror and weird fiction further than ever before.

Entropy in Bloom coverWhat you cannot expect is horror fiction to just slap you in the face with a big fat label on the spine of the book. Ignoring the books that don’t look like horror only means you might miss out on a rare treat. Keep in mind that the scariest book of all time, William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, was actually a mainstream release that made it on the NY Times Bestseller list. Horror likes to hide in the shadows, waiting for you to just happen upon it in the pages. Horror is an emotion, not a label, and it doesn’t need an invitation to invade your nightmares. Another thing you shouldn’t expect is for horror fiction to dumb-it-down. Horror and weird fiction, especially weird fiction, has become self-aware, and with that comes writers unafraid to dive into the cerebral, the mind-bending, the genre-blending, with intelligent stories and characters, driven by themes that hit the highs while making you think. Surely there’s enough mindless entertainment today anyway, so it makes sense that the fiction we read should challenge us in ways we haven’t experienced while remaining accessible.

The horror and weird fiction market is stronger now than we’ve seen in the past twenty years. So much talent, so many books. 2017 looks like a banner year. Readers claiming there’s nothing good to read have no excuses. Surely, most readers are waiting impatiently for these upcoming titles to release so we can dig into them and uncover their secrets. We’ll continue to keep you informed of all the horror and weird fiction we can cover, so find yourself a scary book, curl up in your favorite reading place, and let the horror in.





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1 comment

  1. Interesting, Mr. Pastorella. “What you cannot expect is horror fiction to just slap you in the face with a big fat label on the spine of the book.” This, sir, is perfect.

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