Early Books That Inspired My Path Into Dark Fiction
Someone recently asked me what books I read while growing up that influenced me to write the kind of stories I do. I was a fairly voracious reader in middle/high school, and fully capable of devouring one complete paperback book per day. (It was a long bus ride to school and back.) I was also lucky to have parents who valued reading, and although money was tight, books were considered a necessary expense, like food and clothing.
Much of my early reading was non-fiction, but filled with elements of horror: Bigfoot, The Bermuda Triangle, The Loch Ness Monsters, Witchcraft, Aliens and my favorite subject – Sharks. I decided after seeing the movie Jaws and reading the story, I decided I was going to become an oceanographer, although I didn’t even know what an oceanographer was. But I knew they got to hang out with sharks. Cool.
My taste in fiction took a while to gel. I enjoyed the Encyclopedia Brown series of mystery books, and I have fond memories of the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I remember reading a Hardy Boys adventure and thinking it was utterly lame. Ditto for Nancy Drew. Ugh.I don’t recall why I read the first 35 volumes of the Trixie Belden series of mystery books, but I can safely say that Trixie Belden was my first fictional love.
I latched onto a mystery-adventure series called Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators, the first of which was The Secret of Terror Castle. A cool cover led me to read A Clockwork Orange at far too young an age to appreciate it. And I enjoyed The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings when the only people who read such things were the social outcasts who played Dungeons and Dragons.
Most of the fiction I read was dark, but it was all mystery or fantasy. The very first book I can recall that I would classify as horror or dark fiction would be the first in the Dark Forces series of books, The Game by Les Logan. I hadn’t even finished the book and was looking forward to the next in the series. No doubt if I read any of the Dark Forces books today, I’d find them filled with enough cheese to keep a Taco Bell in business for a month.
I quickly graduated to modern horror classics by Stephen King and Clive Barker. Reading Alan Dean Foster’s Alien late at night in bed with a flashlight was a bad idea. Soon, I found myself branching into older horror classics by authors like Edgar Allen Poe and H.P.Lovecraft. And it wouldn’t be until years later that I decided to write dark fiction myself (a blog post for another day) but these are the roots of my love affair with horror, paranormal and occult fiction.
How about you? Any early books, movies or inspirations that set you on the author’s path you find yourself on?