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Is horror dead?

In the first of a two-part series on the state of horror publishing, Alex Davis picks over the bones of the indie presses

FANTASTIC REALMS

To many readers, the story of horror’s ‘rise and fall’ will be a familiar one, with the boom of great horror writers emerging from mainstream publishing houses in the 1970s eventually followed by a rapid, abrupt collapse in the 1990s. A generation spearheaded by the horror works of Stephen King, James Herbert, Dean Koontz, Ramsey Campbell and Brian Lumley, among others, would soon be followed by a host of horror authors who – while many were very good – would struggle to attract the same devout following. It’s also possible to argue that as the market became saturated in a desperate rush to meet demand, overall quality did begin to suffer and readers quickly tired of the genre barring a few select names.

And so, by the 1990s, most major publishers would tell you that horror had enjoyed its moment in the sun – and many authors were starting to get the same feeling. Acclaimed British horror author Simon Clark is the author of the Vampyrrhic novels, The Night of the Triffids and the award-winning novella Humpty’s Bones and short story Goblin City Lights. ‘When I sold my first horror novels, Nailed by the Heart and Blood Crazy, to Hodder & Stoughton in the early nineties, the popularity of horror books had slumped dramatically’, he says.

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About Writing Magazine

Want to double your story sales? In this month's issue of Writing Magazine we tell you how to turn one idea into two stories. All writers need feedback on their work, and we explore how positive feedback will make you a better writer. Is horror dead? We look at the current state of horror publishing. This month's star interview is author Nikesh Shukla talking about the big issues: life, race and big ideas. Read 20 pages of news about competitions and opportunities to get into print, and there's £60,089 in writing prizes to be won.