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Do You Read Scary Stories After Halloween?

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This is a collaborative guest post by Khrisma McMurray and Sydney Villegas, both interns in the Library’s Archives, Heritage and History Advanced Internship Program (AHHA). During the fall of 2023, they have worked with the Library’s archived author talks to spotlight authors you may know and enjoy,. This month, they have put together  highlights from  archived author talks by horror and thriller writers. 

Halloween might have just ended, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop reading scary stories. Check out the follow selection of author talks from the past few years from masters of horror and thrillers.

Victor LaValle (photo credit: Teddy Wolff) and featured title “Lone Women.”

Victor LaValle in conversation with Kevin Wilson: Watch the Video Here.

  • 38:25-LaValle explains how he started using monsters in his fiction to allow him to talk about real issues while keeping readers entertained.
  • 41:15-“I loved monsters and I wanted them back in. But then the even bigger thing I realized was that monsters could be a way to fold in […] really big ideas without making people feel like they’re being lectured about an idea.”
Silvia Moreno-Garcia (photo credit: Martin Dee) and featured title “Mexican Gothic.”

Sarah Moreno-Garcia in conversation with Sarah Pearse: Watch the Video Here.

  • 11:05-Moreno-Garcia speaks about the importance of crafting atmosphere and using psychological elements as key features of Gothic horror writing.
  • 14:48-Pearse talks about the need for atmospheric build-up in Gothic horror.
  • 19:35-Moreno-Garcia walks through the evolution of how women have been represented in Gothic literature, from the trope of the fainting and helpless female victims to being active agents, players and detectives in their stories.
Neil Gaiman (photo credit: Kyle Cassidy) and featuerd title “The Graveyard Book.”

Neil Gaiman: Watch the Video Here.

  • 3:30-Gaiman describes how he got the idea for “The Graveyard Book” by imagining the horror version of “The Jungle Book.”
Stephen King at the 2016 National Book Festival and featured title “End of Watch.”

Stephen King: Watch the Video Here.

  • 22:26-King describes his children’s relationship with television,  literature and literacy.
  • 29:48-Authors as secret agents; King recalls the first time he saw a stranger in public reading his book.
Peter Straub (photo credit: Kyle Cassidy) and “The Talisman.”

Peter Straub: Watch Video Here .

  • 19:56 Straub talks about his relationship with fellow horror author Stephen King and the process of co-writing “The Talisman” with him.
Kiersten White at the 2016 National Book Festival and featured title “And I Darken.”

Kiersten White: Watch Video Here.

  • 11:59-White explains the value of writing a story from the antihero’s perspective.
  • 15:30-White speaks about how most of her novels, including “Paranormalcy” and “And I Darken,” begin with questions that form the soul of her books and motivate her to write to explore and answer them.  “I have to have that drive because if I don’t have that question that I’m trying to answer as the writer, then I lose interest in the book. […]  I just have to have that soul, that core of the book that I’m engaged in and I’m exploring and I think everything else comes after that.”
Tananarive Due (photo credit: Melissa Hibbert) and featured title “The Wishing Pool.” Grady Hendrix (photo credit: Berkley 21) and featured title “How to Sell a Haunted House”

Tananarive Due and Grady Hendrix: Watch the Video Here.

  • 4:22-Due and Hendrix explore how their hometowns inform their writing and how they use real cities and towns as references to ground their stories.
  • 33:13: Due, on choosing to write about ghosts and haints.
Trang Thanh Tran (photo credit: Heather Wall Photography) and featured title “She Is a Haunting.”

Trang Thanh Tran (YA): Watch the Video Here .

  • 15:58-Tran expresses their joy of seeing more representation in Gothic horror with more diverse voices being represented in the history and in the identities of the characters.
  • 29:31-Tran describes what it is like writing for young adults and having to balance horror elements within a coming-of-age story.
Tiffany D. Jackson and featured title “The Weight of Blood.” Ryan La Sala (photo credit: Lauren Takakjian) and featured title “The Honeys.”

Tiffany D. Jackson and Ryan LaSala (YA): Watch the Video Here .

  • 6:58- La Sala explains how horror helps you learn about what unsettles or frightens you.
  • 11:48-La Sala explains how he defies the horror genre standard of having his novel be set in broad daylight instead of at night.: “Oftentimes the horrors that happen to people, especially marginalized people, happen in broad daylight before people that can’t necessarily recognize that they’re happening. It’s only visible to the person that’s the victim of it.”
  • 29:39-Jackson describes why “Carrie” was her favorite horror novel and how that inspired her novel. Fun fact: “Carrie” was selected for the National Film Registry in 2022.
  • 31:25-“It was really fun getting to this point of…putting love into horror characters and making sure that people know that Black people belong in horror.”
  • 49:27-Jackson writes in this genre not to torture people but to give readers a novel they will never forget.


What are your favorite scary/thrilling books? What horror authors would you like to see at the National Book Festival in the coming years?


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