Bird Box Author: Five Novels that Made Me Fall in Love with Horror
(Jeff Milo, Ferndale Area District Library Circulation Specialist, March 1, 2015)
Ferndale’s own Josh Malerman offers the five novels that made him love with the horror genre. The published author of the acclaimed psychological thriller Bird Box has been influenced by some of the best known scare-stylists as well as a few unsung heroes of horror. Bird Box is this year’s Ferndale Reads selection, a one-book/one-community reading event organized and hosted by the Ferndale Area District Library.
“To say I’m honored is too light of a word; I’m floored, really,” Malerman said after hearing his debut novel would be the center of a month-long series of Ferndale Reads programming. “And if Bird Box adds to what the Ferndale Library is already doing? If Bird Box excites even more people to read? Well, that’s the dream right there. This is great for the community; all of us reading together.”
Tying in with Malerman’s proclivity towards the horror genre, Ferndale Reads kicks off with “Library Fear Factor” on Sat., March 7 (at 1 PM), inviting interested readers to the library to participate in a series of bravery-testing feats where they’ll receive a free copy of Bird Box along with a schedule of events and a program passport.
Malerman’s book was recently chosen as Novel Of The Year by This Is Horror, a UK literary site and was on the final ballot for this year’s Bran Stoker Award for horror writing.
Here’s Josh’s Picks
The Top 5 Novels That Made Me Fall In Love With Horror
I’m discovering that, when you love something, you fall in love with it again and again, over and over, possibly every day. There may be a flash moment when you realize you love something, a kind of identifier moment, I like this therefore THIS is part of me, but it doesn’t stop there. It begins there. And very soon you’re more or less floating in a sea of whatever it is you love.
So, with that in mind, let’s say I’m floating in a Sea of Horror Fiction. Go ahead and picture black waters if you like, a stormy sky above, huge freaky fish beneath me. Thing is, waves come in, waves go out, and if you’ve fallen in love, all you really wanna’ do is bob along and let them take you places. So, here are five novels that I met while the waves were high, at their highest.
Here are five novels that made me fall in love with horror over and over again…
THE FACE OF FEAR- Dean Koontz (1989)
The majority of the book (or all of it? I can’t remember right now) takes place in an office building. Since my dad worked on the 7th floor of an office building, and since I would visit him there with some regularity, this book scared the crap out of me. Imagine if the killer was loose somewhere in dad’s building! I visited him while reading the book and found myself skipping by the other offices, the doors that dotted the long carpeted hall leading to his. Here’s the thing: I was 14 years old and I was legitimately, thrillingly scared! And I didn’t want that feeling to go away. Didn’t want to not be scared anymore. It was almost as if, through this state of being, fear, I was in a different room than anybody else I encountered (including dad.) I was living a new, heightened life. Try it. Scare the crap out of yourself and then go order a sandwich at a sandwich shop. Go pay a bill in person. And tell me if that experience isn’t just a little bit different. A little bit… better. Tell me if the electricity you feel within doesn’t lift you, just a bit, and make the most mundane experience something… bigger. The Face of Fear taught me this first.
I was 14 and falling in love with horror and I didn’t know it then, but I know it now.
Find it: http://bit.ly/17guKVe
SKELETON CREW- Stephen King (1986)
Released a few years before The Face of Fear, I didn’t come across Skeleton Crew until just after finishing Koont’z office building nightmare. So here I was, a newlywed you might say, starry eyed (still!) and looking for more, and I picked up Skeleton Crew at Book People on Orchard Lake Road because the cover was dark and there was a weird monkey on it. I didn’t know it was short stories and poems but because it was, I went from having a few horror stories under my belt to like 30 by the end of the book. In other words; I discovered the glory of the horror short story through Stephen King’s second collection and it enhanced the love affair a thousand-fold.
Again, I was 14 and I was learning. Learning that whether it’s a seven page story or a thousand page novel, the beauty of horror is how it leads you into a weird little room and leaves you there despite the fact that you still have to interact with the world at large! So friends are talking to me, teachers are lecturing, and I’m thinking of the thing in the lake in “The Raft” and how I got turned on (while being frightened! No small discovery by the way!) by the girls in the story. Yeah, Skeleton Crew was a big one. If I fell in love with the genre through The Face of Fear, it was Skeleton Crew that put a ring on me.
Find it: http://bit.ly/1DrqbFi
BOOKS OF BLOOD- Clive Barker (1984, 1985)
So let’s fast forward. Between Skelton Crew and Barker’s Books of Blood a lot went down. I read a bunch of scary stories, got good at running, got bad at running, went off to college, tried to write my own scary novels, joined a band with my best friends, moved to New York City, and toured the country twenty times over with said band. By then I’d been on a classics kick. Big Lit. Decided to read everything I should’ve been reading in college. It was a great phase, glorious, but it was also the longest sabbatical I took from horror in my life (and I’ll never do it again.)
And then things came full circle, horror returned!, on a night in Philadelphia. Our band had just played a show and a girl was talking to me about the genre. I excitedly told her I loved it and she asked me what I thought of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood? I hadn’t read, didn’t even know much about it, and so she lent me her copy. I read it on the road, as the High Strung traveled from Philadelphia to New York or maybe we went south from there and oh who knows, but the important thing, for me, is that I fell in love with the genre all over again through Barker’s masterpiece collection of short stories. Holy cow to this one. Please please please read her if you haven’t. There’s so much vitality in this collection, so much elasticity, that it’ll stretch anybody’s idea of what is horror much farther than what they thought it was.
Find it: http://bit.ly/1Ep2BWO
THE PET- Charles L. Grant (1987)
I’d heard of Grant through the years. People talked about him like he was/is a titan of the genre, but I hadn’t made my way to him yet. I randomly picked up The Pet because I liked the title and the cover and sometimes that’s all you need as a horror fan, after all. Well, this one blew me away.
The story about a menacing steed emerging from a poster in a kid’s room, killing all sorts of people in town, protecting the kid until it becomes clear the horse is kinda’ overdoing it… it was, for me, breathtaking. And so I fell in love with the genre all over again. Or maybe I fell in deeper, as The Pet was one of the first horror novels I read as an adult that proved to me I hadn’t lost an ounce of the teenager within; the kid who believed in the monsters. A lot of people say they “used” to like that stuff. And those words, “used to,” suggest they don’t get scared anymore. Fortunately, I’ve got just enough arrested development to’ve avoided such a tragedy.
Find it: http://bit.ly/1vj8Ziu
THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS- John F.D. Taff (2014)
A collection of novellas I received in the mail a few months back from a fellow member of the HWA (Horror Writers Association.) I went into it knowing very little about it. Sometimes that’s the best way to read a story, especially a scary one, and sometimes that backfires, which is fine, but it’s true that sometimes it does. So, here I am, now I’m a man and I’ve got my own horror novel published and I’m working on the second one and I open Taff’s book and start reading and a few days later I’m done and I realize (!) that I’ve encountered one of the greats.
Truly, Taff is great. These stories are so well done, man. I was smiling while reading, getting up and showing my fiancée Allison different passages, texting friends, and eventually writing John himself. And, yes, once again, here I am, falling in love with the genre, and who’s there in the room with me? It’s The End in All Beginnings is who. Sometimes you read a book at a perfectly timed moment in your life and you kinda’ can’t believe that this story, this writer, existed before you knew him. You think, “This coulda’ been the very first scary book I read! The one that got me to fall in love with the genre to begin with!”
And then you realize that, in a way, it is the very first scary book you read because it’s brought you all the way back to the beginning of things, way back when you signed up, when you shivered and smiled and thought, A horror life for me!
Learn more about Ferndale Reads events at https://oaklandcounty115.com/2015/02/24/ferndale-reads-psychological-thriller-bird-box-kickoff-march-7/.
Bird Box Author: Five Novels that Made Me Fall in Love with Horror