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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 …

February in Poetry: “Women in Horror” & Introduction by Peter Adam Salomon, Editor

February in Poetry: “Women in Horror” & Introduction by Peter Adam Salomon, Editor

‘Strangulation’ by Marge Simon

In the ‘November in Poetry’ column, poet Wendy Rathbone touched on an eternal truth that is so vital that I wanted to follow up on it. Wendy spoke of the ‘earliest and best known darker tales’ being poems:

“Beowulf,” “The Iliad,” “The Odyssey.” Dark poetry continues throughout known history from Dante’s “Inferno” to Milton’s “Paradise Lost” to William Blake to Poe.

This month, I’d like to go back even further in time, to show just how important the darkness has been, not just to poetry, but to all literature.

One of the oldest surviving works of …

Scary Out There: A Blog on Horror in Young Adult Fiction: A Chat with Gretchen McNeil

IMG_7315_resizeWelcome back to SCARY OUT THERE, the Horror Writers Association’s new blog on scary fiction for teens.

JONATHAN MABERRY: My guest this week Gretchen McNeil who is one of those ‘does it all’ people. She’s an opera singer, writer and clown. Her YA horror novels include POSSESS, TEN, and 3:59 (debuting this fall from Balzer + Bray). Gretchen also contributed an essay to the DEAR TEEN ME, an anthology from Zest Books.

Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4’s Code Monkeys and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. Gretchen blogs with The

Scary Out There: A Blog on Horror in Young Adult Fiction: A Chat with Kendare Blake

kendareblakeauthorphotoWelcome back to SCARY OUT THERE, the Horror Writers Association’s new blog on scary fiction for teens.

My guest this week is Kendare Blake, author of the critically acclaimed ANN DRESSED IN BLOOD. Kendare lives and writes in Lynnwood, Washington. She writes books, enjoys scary movies, digs trying new food, goes hiking and plays (she insists) really bad tennis.

JONATHAN MABERRY: Welcome aboard, Kendare. Let’s jump right to the big question upon which Scary Out There is built. What scares you?

KENDARE BLAKE: Uncertainty scares me. The unknown.

JONATHAN MABERRY: How so–?

KENDARE BLAKE: It’s a fairly universal human fear, …

Halloween Haunts: The House on Brookhaven Road by Hugh Sterbakov

The following is a true story… even the names haven’t been changed.

It was the last week of autumn in West Philadelphia, and the wet, warm smell of falling leaves had just given way to the numbing chill of winter. The year was 1990, and my friends and I had just begun our senior year at Robert E. Lamberton, the same school most of us had attended since Kindergarten. We’d grown up together, and this was our last hurrah. Next year we’d be at distant colleges, carving pumpkins with new families of friends.

My mother went away for Halloween weekend …

Halloween Haunts: Stonehenge–Up Close and Personal by Thomas Morrissey

My favorite Halloween (so far) was the one I spent in England.

I was researching a novel, and my research took me all over the United Kingdom, including to Northern Ireland.  My itinerary had me doing half car, half BritRail pass along this circuit, and once I’d crossed back over from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead in Wales, I was driving to get to Stonehenge for Halloween.

The maps weren’t always precise, and I quickly learned ‘A’ or ‘M’ plus one number was a major highway, ‘A’ with two numbers after it was a pretty good-sized street, ‘A’ with three number …

Halloween Haunts: My Troubled Halloween Adventures by Charles Day

As a child, I’ve always loved Halloween, including the night before. The cool crisp autumn winds howling outside. The brisk air through my open windows. The colors of the changing leaves, a golden brown or bright red and orange, these reminders always seem to get me in that halloweenish mood. But above all, it’s the costumes, the candy, and the scary movies played over and over on the TV right around Halloween. These are the kinds of things that send chills up my spine, goose bumps all over my flesh, and make me love this holiday every times it comes …

Halloween Haunts: The Joys of Halloween and Nightmares by Nancy O. Greene

Halloween, and cemeteries, and nightmares, and zombies! Oh, my!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of all of the above. Well, maybe not always the nightmares, though I can’t deny that they fascinate me and have often played a central role in my storytelling. Until I met others with the same leanings, I suspected (and was told) that my fondness for these things was odd, especially for an African-American girl. The strangeness was irrelevant, and while I’ve long since met multitudes of people from various cultures with the same fascinations, I’m happy to say that …

Halloween Haunts: Heroes and Monsters by Patrick Thomas

The monsters come out at Halloween. It was the time when they didn’t have to hide and the adults could see them and not realize what they were. Some kids could, while others didn’t until it was too late. They blended in, until they pounced with eggs, shaving cream and fists.

I hate bullies. As a kid as far I was concerned they were real monsters. Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster  were fun compared to dealing with the real thing. I’m not talking kids picking on kids. I’m talking full out brutality.

One chilly October in fourth grade while playing a …

Halloween Haunts: HWA & BookExpo America 2012 by Leland Pitts-Gonzalez

I arrived at the Javits Center in New York City for the BookExpo—an oversized, rolling suitcase in hand to tote back all of those advanced copies of my novel that I would surely fail to give away. Inside, the Javits Center was somewhat aesthetically pleasing in that express, faux-luxury-hotel kind of way. Yet, mainly it was a beehive of suited and badged industry folks, shuffling as quickly as possible through the aisles and offshoots lined with publishers and author’s associations—some of which by this time next year will have gone under.

But book-signings aren’t supposed to be a time for …

Halloween Haunts: Stoker Spotlight Interview with Joe McKinney

Joe McKinney is the recipient of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a Novel for Flesh Eaters.

1. How would you describe Flesh Eaters?

Flesh Eaters is sort of difficult to characterize.  It’s a zombie novel, for example, but it’s also a classic disaster tale and a crime story.  I didn’t intend for it to merge so many different genres, but that’s how it came out.  On another level, Flesh Eaters is part of my Dead World series, which so far includes Dead City, Apocalypse of the Dead, Mutated, and a handful …

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