Horror Writers Association Blog

Young Adult Horror [ 49 ]

Writing Prompt: A Family Fear

Writing Prompt: A Family Fear

Young Horror brings you writing prompts to energize your week with spooky idea inspiration. Are you writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade, or YA? Your next great idea could be sparked right here. Check back every first Monday of the month for inspiration. Share your ideas and discuss in the comments below. Look out for our September feature article: Found Footage Horror, on the third Thursday.


Parents can pass on their own fears to their children. Do you jump every time you see a spider in the house? Little Jimmy is picking up those cues, and he’ll …

Writing Prompt: Wicked Watermelon

Writing Prompt: Wicked Watermelon

Young Horror brings you writing prompts to energize your week with spooky idea inspiration. Are you writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade, or YA? Your next great idea could be sparked right here. Check back every Monday for new writing prompts. Share your ideas and discuss in the comments below.


In this final installment of summer treats, let’s twist a familiar tale for our wicked purposes: watermelon seeds growing plants in your belly.

It’s funny to picture at first, then absolutely horrifying. Reminds me of a rather hideous Garbage Pail Kid: Walter Melon.

Parents often tell this

The CreEpy Catalog: Frozen Charlotte

The CreEpy Catalog: Frozen Charlotte

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!


Everyone who knows me knows that I have a soft spot for dolls. Even the ones that look “creepy” find a home with me because I can’t bear to have a representation of someone’s childhood go abandoned and unloved. I love reading horror stories that feature creepy dolls, and

Writing Prompt: Ice Cream Truck

Writing Prompt: Ice Cream Truck

Young Horror brings you writing prompts to energize your week with spooky idea inspiration. Are you writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade, or YA? Your next great idea could be sparked right here. Check back every Monday for new writing prompts. Share your ideas and discuss in the comments below.

Writing Prompt: The Ice Cream Truck

Ice Cream Truck

Last week we discussed beating the summer heat of these dog days by eating popsicles. Popsicles with dire consequences! Another source of scorching heat relief is the always creepy Ice Cream Truck.

Driven by a stranger. Driving slowly down residential streets. …

Writing Prompt: Dog Days of Summer

Writing Prompt: Dog Days of Summer

Young Horror brings you writing prompts to energize your week with spooky idea inspiration. Are you writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade, or YA? Your next great idea could be sparked right here.

Check back every Monday for new writing prompts. Share your ideas and discuss in the comments below.

Dog Days of Summer

For today’s writing prompt, turn on the sprinkler, because we’re in the dog days of summer. These “dog days” point to the rise of Sirius, the Dog Star. Sirius ushers in the hottest 40 days in the Northern Hemisphere. Time to avoid heat

A Flash of Fear: Why Write Short-form Horror

For many (if not most), the first introduction to horror doesn’t come from a book or movie, but from a brief scary story told to them, perhaps around a smoky campfire in lonely–or are you alone after all?–woods. Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories collections include many of the selfsame creepy jewels of storytelling’s oral tradition, and have inducted many a child into the ranks of the horror lovers.

Sometimes, what readers really need is unfiltered, filler-free horror delivered directly to the brain.

Short horror is also popular in amateur circles, via various user-driven websites and podcasts. So, even though word counts …

Writing Prompt: Knock on Wood

Writing Prompt: Knock on Wood

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Young Horror brings you writing prompts to energize your week with spooky idea inspiration. Are you writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade, or YA? Your next great idea could be sparked right here.

Check back every Monday for new writing prompts. Share your ideas and discuss in the comments below.


“Superstition is foolish, childish, primitive and irrational–but how much does it cost you to knock on wood?” -Judith Viorst

Your superstitions are much older than you. If you take that moment to knock on wood, you’re joining in on an activity to ward off anger and

Q&A for The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael

Q&A for The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael

It’s Friday the 13th–the perfect day to reach down into the grave dirt and resurrect the Young Horror (formerly YA Horror) blog and to talk about NEW BOOKS.

Hop aboard the Thirteen bus and drive through the brand new spooky picture book The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael (Candlewick 2018). Author Bonny Becker and Illustrator Mark Fearing give all the gory details to HWA YH blogger Shanna Heath below.

Whether you write horror for young people, or want to share more horror stories with the kids in your life, check in every Monday for Young Horror Writing Prompts and every …

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

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