As the 1700s drew to a close, the public furor over The Castle of Otranto, The Monk, The Mysteries of Udolpho and other gothic horror novels continued. Societal keepers and the media of the time became concerned that commoners, particularly young people, were spending too much time engaged in reading, particularly such gruesome fare as The Monk. In our last chapter, we talked about how cancel culture came for Matthew Gregory Lewis, forcing him to revise further editions of The Monk, and to issue a public apology. Continue Reading
In our last column, we discussed Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto—a novel written in 1764 that merged supernatural situations with realistic characters in a natural setting. I mentioned that while it was inarguably the world’s first supernatural horror novel, the marketing category of Horror wasn’t invented until the Eighties, so it was instead categorized as a “Gothic.” Continue Reading
“Boys have scars”, he thought. “Some of them fade—and others don’t. Some scars stay with us for life.”—Brian Keene, Ghoul
Even though this book was originally published some years ago, stories this good are timeless and a well-written book can find its audience yesterday, today and tomorrow. Ghoul will now join the ranks of my favorite coming-of-age horror tales. And I know what some of you are thinking right now, “We know all about Brian Keene and Ghoul, Sadie. You’re a little late to the party!”Continue Reading
Exquisite Corpse: an old parlor game in which players take turns writing on a sheet of paper folded to conceal part of the writing, and then pass it to the next player for another contribution. The results of the first use of the technique was a sentence in French: “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau,” meaning “the exquisite corpse will drink the young wine.” — Artopium
On Friday, October 19, Serial Box presents its latest literary experiment, a terrifying celebration of Halloween featuring 10 award-winning horror authors playing a game of Exquisite Corpse. This multimedia storytelling event will see a new, FREE episode released each hour between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST. Readers can sign up for this special email list which will not only let you know when the story begins, but will provide chances at all kinds of free horror goodness — think stickers, promo codes, signed books and more!Continue Reading
There’s collaboration, and then there’s art by committee.
Art by committee rarely works. The committee might have formed in order to pursue a common goal, but it’s typically made up of people with different agendas and different ideas on how to reach that goal. These individuals are often more interested in how this committee is going to elevate them to the next, more important committee than whether or not this committee achieves its goal.
Collaboration also involves individuals working together in pursuit of a common goal, but the difference lies in the approach. Collaborators blend their ideas and visions and voices in service of that goal. The idea isn’t to stand out, but to choose the right ingredients to achieve the best possible end result.
Silverwood: The Door is the follow-up to Silverwood, an original video series from Tony Valenzuela’s Black Box TV (episodes are available on YouTube). Brian Keene acts as showrunner for a writers room featuring Richard Chizmar, Stephen Kozeniewski, and the Sisters of Slaughter – Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason. The result is a 10-episode series, released in weekly installments in both prose and audiobook formats beginning in October. The team promises a mix of horror styles encompassing slashers, splatterpunk, psychological, Lovecraftian, and more.
Brian Keene writes novels, comic books, short fiction, and occasional journalism for money. He is the author of over forty books, mostly in the horror, crime, and dark fantasy genres. Keene also hosts the popular podcast The Horror Show with Brian Keene, which airs weekly on iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, and elsewhere via the Project Entertainment Network. His Cemetery Dance column “Brian Keene’s History of Horror Fiction,” in which he follows the art form of telling spooky stories from its cave-bound roots up through the present day, will be returning from hiatus soon. In the meantime, Keene took the time to answer a few questions about his work on Silverwood: The Door.Continue Reading
If you follow Brian Keene on social media, you probably noticed he’s been teasing us all a lot lately. I don’t mean teasing in a mean, name-calling, bullying kind of way; I mean he’s been dangling a mysterious new project in front of us like a carrot on a stick. Finally, during a May 11 telethon that featured a rap battle and Keene wearing tights, among other things (oh, and that raised over $21,000 for the Scares That Care charity!), the beans were spilled: Keene has joined forces with Serial Box and a room full of talented horror writers to produce a new prose fiction series called Silverwood: The Door.Continue Reading
Last month, we explored how, after Rome’s Edict of Milan, Christianity spread throughout the world and began to influence supernatural fiction. But since our previous chapter focused primarily on twelfth century werewolf fiction, I want to begin this month by talking about another religious book that had a lasting impact on our genre. Continue Reading
We’ve explored how the supernatural informed much of humankind’s early written works, from the various texts of the world’s religions to cultural folklore and myths to fiction. Eventually, one religion began to influence them all. Around the same time that anonymous writer was penning Beowulf, the Roman Catholic church’s first official accusation of real-life Satanism took place in the French city of Toulouse.
As we’ve already established, supernatural elements informed much of mankind’s early written works, from the various texts of the world’s religions to cultural folklore and myths to one of humanity’s first pieces of fiction—The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Let’s examine some other early works of horror fiction from the dawn of civilization, starting in 1500 B.C. with the tale of Theseus and the Minotaur—a tale of bestiality, royal intrigue, and man-eating monsters. Continue Reading
In last month’s chapter, we examined one of the world’s first examples of horror fiction—The Epic of Gilgamesh. This month, that was supposed to lead into a chapter on Beowulf, Theseus and the Minotaur, The Iliad and The Odyssey, The Oresteia, Dante’s Inferno, Lucian Samosata’s True History, and more.
I’ve decided we will get to those next month.
Instead, I’d like to use this month’s space to remember a mentor and dear friend of mine. I knew him as Dallas Mayr, but I first met him as Jack Ketchum (which is probably the name you know him by). Continue Reading
Before we talk about The Epic of Gilgamesh, I want to touch on folklore, myths, and religion. As stated previously, my goal with this column is to present a history of horror fiction from primitive man up to today’s Kindle revolution. In doing that, I will undoubtedly anger some people. (Indeed, judging by the recent histrionics of the addled S.T. Joshi, I already have.) But while I’m happy to piss people off by claiming there’s common ground between quiet horror and splatterpunk, or discussing the possibility that America’s oldest mass market paperback publisher was partially funded by organized crime, it is not my intent to anger or offend anyone by disparaging their personal religious beliefs.Continue Reading
In the opening sentence of his seminal 1927 essay Supernatural Horror in Literature, H.P. Lovecraft wrote, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.”
Decades later, in the Introduction to 1982’s Prime Evil anthology, Douglas E. Winter wrote, “Horror is not a genre, like the mystery or science fiction or the western. It is not a kind of fiction, meant to be confined to the ghetto of a special shelf in libraries or bookstores. Horror is an emotion.”
In his posthumously released 1993 song “Thug Life,” 2Pac (Tupac Shakur) rapped, “Thinkin’ of dead niggas that I knew that died young. Is there a heaven for a nigga up to no good, or is it another fuckin’ hood?”
Three seemingly disparate quotes, connected only tenuously, and yet all speaking to one universal truth that is as old as humankind itself. Three quotes that serve to interpolate the work of the Upper Paleolithic era’s version of Stephen King—an artist known as Thurg.Continue Reading
Hi. My name is Brian Keene. You might remember me from my previous Cemetery Dance column, End of the Road. Or perhaps you know me from the many novels and comic books and short stories I’ve written—too many, if you ask some critics. Or maybe you know me from my popular podcast, The Horror Show with Brian Keene. Or, it’s possible you don’t know me at all—or know me only by reputation (and if it’s the latter, then don’t believe everything you read online). Regardless of how you ended up here, welcome to History of Horror Fiction, a new monthly column brought to you by Cemetery Dance.Continue Reading