Once upon a time, a sixth grade student walked into his English class for free-read and dropped Stephen King’s IT on his desk. The paperback looked like a brick and clocked in at over 1,000 pages. The teacher came over and stared at the student quizzically while pondering why a sixth grader had such a book. She asked the student why he would be reading a book such as IT. The student looked up at her, wondering why she would question a kid reading a book, and told her it was the fifth Stephen King book he’d read since the start of summer break. The teacher became alarmed and asked if his parents knew he was reading Stephen King. The student became indignant and told her that yes they knew he read them and clarified that they didn’t care since he was able to read at a college level since fourth grade.
Then she just turned around and walked away from me, shaking her head. I picked up my book and began to read.
I was lucky. Since I could read at a higher level then everyone else and I read every Choose-Your-Own-Adventure and Encyclopedia Brown book by the time I was in fifth grade, I needed something to challenge me. I started out with Poe and then found this great author named Stephen King. Being 11 and reading Salem’s Lot is a life-altering experience. Our middle school had a place to buy books and I had to get a parent’s note that allowed them to order me King’s books. I devoured everyone I could.
Soon, I was caught up and had read all of his stuff so I had to look elsewhere. The search brought me to Dean Koontz and Clive Barker (a 12-year-old reading The Hellbound Heart is also life changing). Then I pretty much bottomed out without a clear path to follow next because the world of small press horror in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s was foreign to me. Not knowing there was more out there was my loss. This is one reason you should thank God for the internet when you go to bed at night. Without it life sucked.
I rolled in the doldrums of a new book from King and two from Koontz as my only anchors in the horror world until…I met Wesley Southard (Great guy, friend, and brother author. Go check him out at wesleysouthard.wordpress.com. While there, check out the Pill Hill Press book Big Book of New Short Horror for his debut story With Many Thanks To Newark, an awesome story with a very cool ass co-pilot). I can never repay him for introducing me to those authors that slip through the mainstream cracks; Brian Keene, Simon Clark, Tim Lebbon, Joe Hill, Douglas Clegg, Edward Lee, Greg Gifune, Ronald Malfi, James A. Moore, J.F. Gonzalez, Richard Laymon, Wrath James White, Graham Masterton, Ray Garton, Jeff Strand, and Jack Ketchum. Reading these guys blew my mind and opened the doors to me again. The writing door I closed years ago slammed open and here I am.
The past two years have had tons of great books to read, but I’m going to give you five you read now. Get the hardcovers, the Kindle, the Nook, whatever…read the things.
1. Joe Hill’s Horns– Guy wakes up with horns on his head and has to figure out how and why the hell it happened.
2. Wrath James White’s The Resurrectionist- A man can bring the dead back to life so he can kill them again…and again…and again. The ending is mind-blowing.
3. J.F. Gonzalez’s Back From the Dead– Kids learn how to bring things back from the dead, but what they bring back triggers a hell storm of violence and death.
4. Jeff Strand’s Dweller– A story about a boy and his life long relationship with a monster. At times, it is so heartbreaking you want to cry.
5. Brian Keene’s Entombed- In his zombie world from Dead Sea, a group of humans try to survive the zombie world in the old fallout shelter beneath a hotel.
All five of these are super reads and you should run out there now and try them, you just might like them.
This blog is ‘thank you, I love you’ blog to my parents for always trusting me to read, write, and listen to what I wanted. I turned out ok and I hope as a writer, I can make them proud of me. You allowing me a choice and not silencing my choices, is why I can give this a shot. You let me build my own foundation and from there, I will build this crazy idea about writing I have. I love you both and the ride I’ve been on since the writing began last year has been incredible.
Till next time….