This week I will post a review of the horror novel Eden. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask the author, Tim Lebbon to write a guest post for my blog. So what did I want to know? What made him want to write horror? Here’s how it all started….Enjoy!
Whenever I’m asked ‘why horror?’, I blame my mum. She was a lovely lady, caring, intelligent, a nurse all her life, and it’s because of her I grew up loving reading, and because of her that I’m a writer. And when I was 10 years old she gave me a book to read that would change my life. That book was The Rats, by James Herbert. Anyone who’s read this book will know that it’s rather … adult in content.
It never did me any harm.
Herbert’s books led me to King and Barker, and I spent my early teens consuming everything they’d written. I also started to write. Through my teens my fiction was more thrillery, and I’m not sure I actually finished a novel. Then in my early 20s I wrote my first horror short story, Black Heart, and I never looked back. From that moment I wanted to become a writer (actually I think I always wanted to write, but this was the moment when I started to actively work and plan towards that aim).
The most memorable novel I read in my 20s was The Stand by Stephen King. I’m still a massive King fan today, but that’s the novel of his that I still believe is his most influential, certainly for me. Its scope, its atmosphere, the narrative skill required to make such a large story featuring so many characters work on a deep emotional level … it’s masterclass on horror writing. I’m going to reread it one of these days. Or one of these months!
There’s also a TV episode that affected me deeply when I was maybe 11 or 12. For about 25 years I couldn’t remember what it was called or where I saw it, only that it gave me nightmares. But then I stayed with my friend Mark Morris, mentioned it to him––how I remember a strange desiccated thing found in a cottage wall, the influence it cast over the house’s owners, and how one of the last images had terrified me as a kid––and Mark instantly said, “That’s Baby, an episode from Nigel Kneale’s Beasts.” We watched it that evening. And I’m delighted to say it scared the hell out of me all over again.
Later in my 20s I started reading the work of Arthur Machen, a fantasist from the turn of the century who was born and spent much of his life in Caerleon, a little town close to me. His fiction is very tied into the landscape, and myths and beliefs prevalent around the countryside where he was born. There are no real monsters or beasts in his work, it’s more subtle than that, and he’s a master at building a sense of deep unease in the reader, lifting the veil on reality to offer a glimpse, if you dare, at what might lie beneath.
More modern writers who continue to inspire and entertain include Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Alison Littlewood, Alma Katsu … and a whole lot more. I still love horror, and still strive to be a better writer. All thanks to my mum, and The Rats.