AW Amazon Store

If this site is helpful to you,
Please consider a voluntary subscription to defray ongoing expenses.


 

Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

Results 1 to 21 of 21

Thread: 1970ís-1990ís horror masters to read and study

  1. #1
    Banned for Trolling
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    438

    1970ís-1990ís horror masters to read and study

    (Masters not named Stephen King or Dean Koontz or Clive Barker, who rose to prominence in the 1970’s or 1980’s or 1990’s)





    Brian Lumley Started as Lovecraftian writer. Became “Tom Clancy meets Lovecraft.”





    Ramsey Campbell Started as Lovecraftian writer. Became grand UK master of atmospherics and nuances of unease.





    Charles L Grant Grand US master of atmospherics and nuances of unease.





    Basil Copper Lovecraftian, traditionalist.





    Thomas Ligotti Lovecraftian, existentialist.





    Robert McCammon Neck to neck with Stephen King from 1980 to 1990, then suddenly quit for a decade to recharge. Possibly didn’t have King’s stamina in one way or another. I know I don’t. I’m one of those who can possibly write one book a lifetime on the level of King (or McCammon, for that matter), and it would take me years and years to write it. These guys are inhuman (even McCammon, for managing to keep up for a whole decade).





    Guy N Smith Grandfather of splatterpunk





    Graham Masterton Father of splatterpunk





    Shaun Hutson Splatterpunk flowers into equivalent of heavy metal.





    John Skipp & Craig Spector Splatterpunk flowers into equivalent of thrash metal.





    Ed Lee Splatterpunk flowers into equivalent of death metal.





    Bentley Little Splatterpunk in its more “intellectual” branch. “Prog splatterpunk”, as it were.

    PLEASE ADD MORE NAMES
    Last edited by JCornelius; 02-24-2017 at 04:55 PM.

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW Jan74's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    680
    I do like John Saul he's an easy read, he's not "great" like King, but he's really good, but that is my opinion.

    "You fail only if you stop writing" ~Ray Bradbury~
    "The road to hell is paved with adverbs" ~Stephen King~
    WIP Romance or Women's fiction, hopefully by the end I'll know.
    "If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." ~Margaret Atwood~
    "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." ~Mary Angelou~


  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW redfalcon's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    North East Oklahoma
    Posts
    328
    James Herbert is my fave non big name, at least not big her in the US i think he is bigger in the UK.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    The right earlobe of North America
    Posts
    35,871
    The first name that comes to mind is Richard Matheson. And Ray Bradbury wrote quite a number of creepy stories that fit the horror genre more closely than either SF or Fantasy.

    caw
    Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

    -- Terry Pratchett

  5. #5
    Evil, undead Chihuahua SuperModerator Haggis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    A dark, evil place.
    Posts
    56,207
    McCammon is probably my number one, but it's a good group you picked. There are certainly others.
    Quote Originally Posted by Curlz View Post
    For those of you that don't know what "haggis" is, I can only say that it's much better not knowing anyway
    Stewie the Chihuey
    featuring the lovely and talented


    Stop by the Weekend Progress Report to brag about your weekly writing accomplishments




  6. #6
    Banned for Trolling
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    438
    Quote Originally Posted by Jan74 View Post
    I do like John Saul he's an easy read, he's not "great" like King, but he's really good, but that is my opinion.
    John Saul is the second bestselling horror writer in the world after Stephen King*, with over 60 million books in print. John Saul writes (or at least wrote) a novel in two months once a year, which is more or less King's speed, adjusted for normal novel size and not doorstoppers. He does not really really have sudden bursts of high-flying prose like King, but is still one of the most competent horror (or thriller, for that matter) writers in the field.





    Quote Originally Posted by redfalcon View Post
    James Herbert is my fave non big name, at least not big her in the US i think he is bigger in the UK.
    With 54 million copies sold to his name, Mr. Herbert is the third bestselling horror writer in the world. Not so much that he's a non big name, but rather he died too soon... Unlike Mr. Saul, Mr. Herbert does indeed have high-flying bursts of terrific gothic prose. Anyway, great suggestion!




    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    The first name that comes to mind is Richard Matheson. And Ray Bradbury wrote quite a number of creepy stories that fit the horror genre more closely than either SF or Fantasy.

    caw
    True on both (much of King, especially when he goes into "little boy romanticism" mode is total Bradbury worship, as is much of McCammon's stuff, and I'm currently rereading Matheson's short fiction as inspiration for my current crop of short stories), but they rather belong to a different thread, about the generation before the writers in this thread. The generation between Lovecraft's and King's, as it were. Robert Bloch would also go there, Fritz Leiber, I'd say even Ira Levin. Shirley Jackson, for sure.
    Love them old masters!





    ___
    * There's a certain Dean Koontz who sells precisely as much as Stephen King, but he insists he's not a horror writer, so OK
    Last edited by JCornelius; 03-02-2017 at 06:12 PM.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW Jan74's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    680
    Quote Originally Posted by JCornelius View Post
    John Saul is the second bestselling horror writer in the world after Stephen King*, with over 60 million books in print. John Saul writes (or at least wrote) a novel in two months once a year, which is more or less King's speed, adjusted for normal novel size and not doorstoppers. He does not really really have sudden bursts of high-flying prose like King, but is still one of the most competent horror (or thriller, for that matter) writers in the field.
    Definitely competent! I loved his books, I think the God Project was the first novel I read of his and many many more after that, his books never terrified me, they didn't keep me up at night but they were page turners and he's brilliant! Now SK kept me up at night, I was 13 when I read Pet Semetary and I couldn't sleep for days!!!!

    "You fail only if you stop writing" ~Ray Bradbury~
    "The road to hell is paved with adverbs" ~Stephen King~
    WIP Romance or Women's fiction, hopefully by the end I'll know.
    "If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." ~Margaret Atwood~
    "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." ~Mary Angelou~


  8. #8
    Thread surfer and virtual bartender L. Y.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    The 808
    Posts
    7,465
    Quote Originally Posted by Haggis View Post
    McCammon is probably my number one, but it's a good group you picked. There are certainly others.
    I think McCammon's The Night Boat was one of the first horror novels I read as a kid. I was hooked after that.

    I haven't read Rick Hautala in years, but I remember really liking a few of his novels back in the day.
    Write. Edit. Rinse, repeat.

    Edit with your head. Write with your heart.


  9. #9
    New year, new avatar. hester's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    On the edge.
    Posts
    1,339
    Peter Straub is one of my favorites--"Ghost Story" is amazingly creepy and atmospheric (not to mention beautifully written).

    Richard Laymon wrote some decent horror (with that said, his work is kind of an acquired taste--a lot of sexual violence and cannibalism).

  10. #10
    Banned for Trolling
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    438
    Quote Originally Posted by hester View Post
    Peter Straub is one of my favorites--"Ghost Story" is amazingly creepy and atmospheric (not to mention beautifully written).

    Richard Laymon wrote some decent horror (with that said, his work is kind of an acquired taste--a lot of sexual violence and cannibalism).
    Richard Laymon--the American minor star who became Big in Britain (not unlike how Graham Masterton became Big in Poland, and Philip K Dick --Big in France, etc).

    A very snappy writer who can make any dialogue be as tense as a Quentin Tarantino scene. A friend of Dean Koontz, at some point he finally listened to The Dean's advice on how to add some meat to his novels, which then became a bit wider and fatter.


    Peter Straub--the polar opposite of Laymon, Straub's writing is as un-snappy as it gets. A weaver of slow motion nuances to rival Ramsey Campbell and Charles L Grant, he and Steve King became friends in the late 1970's in England, when both tried to settle there. Obviously neither remained there, but the friendship endured and they later wrote two books together. Mr. Straub has long since made his peace with the fact that whenever he gives an interview, all people will ask is "So what's it like to work with Stephen King?"

    One could argue that King could only have written nuanced masterpieces like IT or Needful Things after working with Straub, and that Straub could only have shifted from dreamy atmospherics to sliiiightly more dynamic psycho thrillers after working with King.

    One wonders how much richer the field of horror could have become, if collaborations between a "slow" and a "fast" giant had become a more regular thing. Charles L Grant and Richard Laymon writing a few novels together? Ramsey Campbell and Robert McCammon? Clive Barker and Graham Masterton*? Or even Shirley Jackson and Robert Bloch?

    What masterpieces our reality is missing...

    ...During the futile but entertaining arguments about who's a better writer--King or Straub--I vote Straub.

    ____
    *Although frankly Barker's latest novel--The Scarlet Gospels--reads exactly as if he had secretly collaborated with Graham Masterton. Same way King's post 1990's novels read increasingly as if he was secretly collaborating with Dean Koontz and Koontz's post 1990's novels read as if he were secretly collaborating with Straub. These are probably stylistic shifts to do with age, realignments of elements of technique and themes to mirror similar realignments in body and personality...
    Last edited by JCornelius; 03-04-2017 at 01:31 PM.

  11. #11
    Banned for Trolling
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    438
    Walking With Koontz


    When reading (or listening to, or looking at the work of) a master at his/her peak it can be almost impossible to see what makes what tick. But when earlier attempts are on display, we can see how exactly the different skills and techniques developed and then come together.

    After exploding on the scene in 1968 as a hyper-productive pulp writer, by the middle of the 1970's Koontz stops writing science fiction, fantasy, heist novels, gothic novels, and attempts at literary fiction...



    ...and focuses entirely on thrillers. By 1980 he has definitely turned into the Dean Koontz of today, however before this period there are a number of highly entertaining books in which we can see his development and learn together with him every step of the way.

    Shattered (1973)--The psychopath's POV is a delight, mainly due to his hallucinations, but the actual plot is still a slim vintage paperback chase story with little else in it. (And would you believe it, the previous, even more rudimentary thriller by Koontz, is called "Chase". Excellent.) A decade later books like this would become the undisputed turf of Richard Laymon.



    Night Chills (1976)--A town falls under the control of evil scientist megalomaniac. Grisly and icky and somehow spellbinding, a few years later books like this would become the undisputed turf of James Herbert.



    Face of Fear (1977)--Generic but competent psycho-thriller of the type which twenty years later would become the undisputed turf of James Patterson.



    The Vision (1977)--Generic but competent paranormal/psycho-thriller of the type which a couple of years later would become the undisputed turf of John Saul.



    The Key to Midnight (1979)--The novel sells a million copies! Just one step left--to start writing under his own name, instead of under a million pen names--a bad habit left over from the pulp hack years.




    Summary:


    1. Shattered is a slim 50 000 word book, in which Koontz for the first time presents his trademark psychopath POV chapters, in an otherwise unremarkable and one-dimensional tale. If he had stopped developing here he would have become a Richard Laymon.

    2. In Night Chills Koontz uses his newfound psychopath mastery in a longer novel of 90 000 words, in which there is a much bigger cast of POV characters, and the story is of far greater complexity, which will become his norm in the 1980's and to this day.
    If he had stopped developing here he would have become a James Herbert.

    3. In The Face of Fear (60 000 words) and The Vision (65 000 words), Koontz works on pacing. In spite of being shorter, Shattered is pretty watery--it could be cut by a quarter without losing any story; Night Chills, in spite of being a stellar leap forward, is also watery. In The Face of Fear and The Vision, Koontz masters suspense pacing.
    If he had stopped developing here he would have become a James Patters or a John Saul.

    4. Finally, in The Key to Midnight (95 000 words), Koontz utilizes everything he had learned in his earlier books. Here it all comes together and produces a solid bestseller. Here Koontz realizes his full potential and becomes himself.
    Under a different name, ironically, but in the coming years Koontz will gradually focus all his talents on the "Koontz" brand and by 1990 only The One Koontz shall remain, the other pen names being killed off in grisly ax accidents.

    ...If a beginner writer in the horror/suspense field wants a masterclass on how to progress from short generic watery stuff to longer, less generic watery stuff, to solid kick-ass material--I very much encourage this beginner writer to Walk With Koontz, book by book, from Shattered to The Key to Midnight (and beyond, if a taste has been acquired); seeing a writer's stage-by-stage evolution in front of your very eyes can only help.

    Not everyone can become a Koontz, or a Saul, or a Herbert, or a Laymon, and so on. In fact, almost no one can. But every beginner writer has a potential which will either lie dormant, or be activated only to a certain extent, or be activated a 100%. Walking with Koontz from Shattered to The Key to Midnight we see how a writer gradually activates his potential step by step until he finally becomes as good as he can possibly be at that moment in time.

    This is the best all of us can hope for--to realistically fulfill our existing potential and thus become the best we can be.
    Last edited by JCornelius; 03-26-2017 at 09:30 PM.

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin phyrebrat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Hiding in your bedroom wardrobe
    Posts
    13
    My favourite writer after SK is Michael McDowell, who's no longer with us, sadly. His style of high Southern Gothic are unmatched, although there is a certain similarity to his stories.

    The Elementals
    , is without a doubt my favourite story. It is everything a standard haunted house story should be.



    pH

  13. #13
    JoeBrat JoeBrat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    53
    I liked:

    The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz

  14. #14
    Even the sphinx has eyes O_O Spooky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Dead Hand Bunker
    Posts
    125
    I've came across the name Ramsey Campbell several times over the years whilst perusing various things related to that era of horror but am yet to try out his works, looking forward to doing so.

  15. #15
    Banned for Trolling
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    438
    Ramsey Campbell has five basic periods:

    1. Lovecraftian short fiction in the first half of the 1970's, which gradually morphs into paranoid atmospherics set in then-contemporary urban England
    2. Paranoid psycho novels from the late 1970's and early 1980's (The Face That Must Die)
    3. Shift to meaty atmospheric stuff in the 1980's and 1990's (Midnight Sun, and initial black humor horror things like The Count of Eleven)
    4. Decisive shift to darkly satiric paranoid horror in the 2000's (The Grin in the Dark, Thieving Fear)
    5. A return to the Lovecraftian approach in the 2010's, but utilizing techniques developed in the prior decades (The Last Revelation of the Gla'aki; Creatures of the Pool)

    I personally am the biggest fan of periods 2 and 5, with the remaining three in honorable second place. To me, the biggest draw of Mr. Campbell is his use of language, which, when at its best, is elegant, sophisticated, and poetically luminous.

  16. #16
    Human Person charliewwriter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Mississippi, US
    Posts
    13
    I would add Karl Edward Wagner to the list. As far as novels go he's known for his sword-sorcery Kane series, but he wrote some of the creepiest short horror stories of the period, including "Sticks," "In the Pines," "Where the Summer Ends," "The River of Night's Dreaming," among others. His short stories can be a little hard to find these days, with single author collections being few and fairly expensive, but several are pepper through various anthologies from the eighties to now.
    He also edited The Year's Best Horror Stories anthologies from 1980 until his death in 1994.

  17. #17
    The force is strong in this one. williemeikle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    3,064
    Some names not mentioned yet, Brits who were / are very popular in the UK and Europe that came up in the '80s/'90s include the likes of Stephen Gallagher, Stephen Laws, Mark Morris, Kim Newman, Simon Clark, Graham Masterton and Jonathan Aycliffe

  18. #18
    Human Person charliewwriter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Mississippi, US
    Posts
    13
    I've heard about a couple of them, but haven't read any of those yet. I need to get on it!

  19. #19
    Ni. Peng. Neee-Wom. edutton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    North Carolina, unfortunately
    Posts
    2,374
    Quote Originally Posted by hester View Post
    Peter Straub is one of my favorites--"Ghost Story" is amazingly creepy and atmospheric (not to mention beautifully written).
    I LOVE Ghost Story!
    Also:
    McCammon's The Wolf's Hour, John Connolly's Book of Lost Things, Alan Ryan's Cast a Cold Eye, Raymond Feist's Faerie Tale, George R. R. Martin's Fevre Dream. I also have a soft spot for Michael McDowell's Southern Gothic "Blackwater" series.
    Write the change you want to see in the world!

    Writing exposition is like putting red pepper flakes on your pizza - the occasional burst adds depth and flavor, too much in a lump can burn the reader out.


    PREPARING TO SUB: One of the Lucky Ones (YA) - Soundtrack, Moodboard
    NANOWRIMO '17!: Stoyanovich and the Princess (MG historical fantasy/suspense, kind of)
    PONDERING: Lion of Andalus (historical)
    Twitter (barely)

  20. #20
    Ni. Peng. Neee-Wom. edutton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    North Carolina, unfortunately
    Posts
    2,374
    Quote Originally Posted by williemeikle View Post
    Some names not mentioned yet, Brits who were / are very popular in the UK and Europe that came up in the '80s/'90s include the likes of Stephen Gallagher, Stephen Laws, Mark Morris, Kim Newman, Simon Clark, Graham Masterton and Jonathan Aycliffe
    Kim Newman... was that Anno Dracula (et seq.)?
    Last edited by edutton; 10-03-2017 at 04:29 PM.
    Write the change you want to see in the world!

    Writing exposition is like putting red pepper flakes on your pizza - the occasional burst adds depth and flavor, too much in a lump can burn the reader out.


    PREPARING TO SUB: One of the Lucky Ones (YA) - Soundtrack, Moodboard
    NANOWRIMO '17!: Stoyanovich and the Princess (MG historical fantasy/suspense, kind of)
    PONDERING: Lion of Andalus (historical)
    Twitter (barely)

  21. #21
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    9
    I agree with most of these except Brian Lumley. I made the mistake of purchasing his Haggopian collection expecting decent Lovecraftian tales and all I got was straight up amateur pastiche, only without any of Lovecraft's cold charm (he admits it too, in his foreword). Only a couple of the stories were any good; most were mediocre and the rest were straight up unreadable. Though I suppose I did find some enjoyment in reading the stories in chronological order, just to see how the man improved throughout the years (and he did improve pretty substantially).

    I've been hearing of Necroscope as a great series in many circles, but that short story collection left a rather bitter taste in my mouth.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Custom Search