Horror Writers Association Blog

Young Adult Horror [ 41 ]

Scary Out There with Screamin Calhoun

Scary Out There with Screamin Calhoun

Hello Horror Fanatics! Scary Out There recently sat down with Screamin Calhoun, the author of the Tombstones series (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016). Listen as Screamin discusses the inspiration behind his book series, his journey to publication, cemeteries, and more.

Screamin Calhoun is the author of the Tombstones book series. He is the caretaker of a cemetery in an undisclosed location, where he enjoys recording the unique stories of those who have come into contact with him. If you’re not careful, your story may be next. He can be found on Instagram at @tombstonesbooks.

Listen to the episode here

Horror in the Headlines: Using the News for Novel Ideas

Horror in the Headlines: Using the News for Novel Ideas

While I love supernatural horror, realistic horror stories—murders, kidnappings, unexplainable medical phenomena—are the ones that really keep me up at night. There’s something extra terrifying about a fictional story that can, and does, happen to people in real life, so it’s no surprise that authors draw inspiration for their horror (or suspense or thriller) novels from news stories. With a 24-hour news cycle and the Internet vortex, you won’t need to look too far for an idea to rip from the headlines.

I read a stack of Sick-Sad-World-worthy YA fiction, and here are some ideas I came away with about

Love is a Disease: Prevent the Romantic Storyline from Strangling the Scary

Love is a Disease: Prevent the Romantic Storyline from Strangling the Scary

Ever wonder why some books get the horror classification, while others—sometimes with similar plotlines and the exact same monsters—get labeled paranormal romance? The difference is easy—the former has the primary goal of scary, and the latter focuses on a romantic relationship (to the degree that the plots rely on it to function). The real question, then, concerns the tipping point between the two genres, the point at which your young adult novel is less terror and more Twilight.

First, a caveat: There’s nothing wrong with paranormal romance; it’s simply a different genre from horror (and the two genres frequently

Peekaboo with the Devil: Strategies for Hiding and Revealing Your Antagonist

Peekaboo with the Devil: Strategies for Hiding and Revealing Your Antagonist

Just like any relationship, the special bond between a horror protagonist and her antagonist benefits from a little bit of mystery. In this case, the hero is a proxy for your readers, and the mystery comes from your story’s scariest villain, be it a human serial killer or a demonic creature or the mad scientist who, when left unattended for a few minutes, will inevitably create a horrific zombie plague.

There are a host of reasons why keeping your baddie cards close to your chest can help your story’s tension and overall terror levels. Obviously, if your plot line is

The CreEpy Catalog: On the Day I Died

The CreEpy Catalog: On the Day I Died

In order to write great children’s horror, you must READ great children’s horror. To help you out with this, we’ve invited our very own middle school librarian to take you into the deepest, darkest corners of the stacks to see what frightening fiction kids are reading. Welcome to the CreEpy Catalog!


erin-mawn-headshotOne of the things I love about working in a middle school library is that kids have the ability to read independently, but they still love being read aloud to. Once a week, I have a group of fifth graders for library class, and I love the experience of …

Ambiguously Ever After: Ending the Children’s Horror Story

Ambiguously Ever After: Ending the Children’s Horror Story

IMG_20160821_211336There’s much handwringing in publishing for children about what is “right” or “appropriate.” There are many controversial subjects and editorial choices, but today we’re talking about endings. Do endings in books for children need to be happy? Or should writers of children’s books portray a realistic version of the world where things don’t always end well?

Critics and authors have come down on both sides of the issue. When the 2014 Carnegie Award was given to The Bunker Diary, it set off a flurry of controversy in the UK and prompted an opinion piece for The Guardian in which

And the Clock Strikes Three AM: Time and Timing in Terror, the Sequel

And the Clock Strikes Three AM: Time and Timing in Terror, the Sequel

cpt_1470618694673Last month’s terror-time about time-and-terror was firmly grounded in reality—creating timetables that work inside the book (natural character reactions to stimuli and logical story flow) and inside the reader’s mind (pacing appropriate for the specific audience’s needs, and avoiding shattering suspension of disbelief through overuse of techniques that, when used sparingly, should enhance tension). Immersion was the name of the game, with an end goal of a truer feeling story and the horror that relating to it as true-ish brings.

But before you go off and wed your story to reality at the altar of believability, there’s another variable. Unless

And Now for Something Completely Different: Adding Humor to Your Horror

And Now for Something Completely Different: Adding Humor to Your Horror

20160716_231210With the popularity of dark comedies, it should be no surprise that horror and humor can be a compelling mix. However, when it comes to young adult books, few succeed at the balance that keeps a funny horror book from losing its edge or appearing to try too hard. Here are a few humorous elements used in YA horror to enhance the story, characters, or setting without sacrificing their horror-ness.


WORD PLAYS AND PUNS
Puns and other forms of wordplay can range from clever to groan-inducing, and they are a little of both in Croak by Gina Damico. In the

And the Clock Strikes Midnight: Time and Timing in Terror, Part I

And the Clock Strikes Midnight: Time and Timing in Terror, Part I

Time and Timing in TerrorWhether it’s the beeping of an alarm clock marking a night over too soon, a school buzzer announcing the start of a test period, or the chime of a grandfather clock in an old house declaring the start of the witching hour, there are lots of ways that time can provoke dread. So, when writers look no further than flashbacks and verb tenses, they miss out on timely tension opportunities.

With a little attention towards the timing of the horrors in your story—pacing as well as narratively—you can save yourself time in revisions, time better spent dreaming up new nightmares …

Scary Out There with Kaitlin Ward

Scary Out There with Kaitlin Ward

cpt_1464313112818

NOTE: Listeners, this was our first attempt at an audio interview. We know there is a slight echo and the background noise isn’t ideal, but bear with us as we creep into the world of audio interviews. Thanks for your understanding and patience!

Hello Horror Fanatics! Today Scary Out There is sitting down with Kaitlin Ward, the author of Bleeding Earth (Adaptive Books, February 2016). Listen as Kaitlin discusses how she came up with the idea for Bleeding Earth, why it’s important for children and teens to read horror, and more.

Kaitlin Ward grew up on a dairy farm …

Young Adults “Write Now” Endowment Program

Young Adults “Write Now” Endowment Program

Horror Writers Association (HWA) announces Young Adults Write Now endowment program to fund teen-oriented writing programs at libraries.

The Horror Writers Association (HWA), the premier organization of writers and publishers of horror and dark fantasy and home of the iconic Bram Stoker Awards®, will be offering endowments to libraries to fund teen writing programs as part of its ongoing dedication to furthering young adult literacy.

The Young Adults Write Now fund will provide up to five endowments of $500 each per year for selected libraries to establish new, or support ongoing, writing programs. The program is currently open to United …

Roundtable 17: YA Horror (March 8)

roundtable_02Sun, Mar 8, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM —
At Google Hangouts On Air

Join distinguished guests and fellow writers live On Air for the March HWA Roundtable. We will be discussing writing horror for the Young Adult market.…

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