Horror Writers Association Blog

Tag archive: Writing Children's Horror Archives - Horror Writers Association Blog [ 12 ]

Darren Shan Interviewed by Dave Jeffery

Darren Shan Interviewed by Dave Jeffery

Author photo of alarmed looking Darren Shan in a darkened room, duck tape over his mouth and bound hands holding a candle, with a sinister young girl lurking in the backgroundOne of the big questions often asked by writers wanting to dip their toes in the waters of YA horror fiction is, “How far can I go?” We know this because members frequently ask this question on various HWA forums. It was certainly one of the queries that rattled around my head when thinking about my own projects back in the 80’s. I wished back then I could access the insights and experiences of established, successful YA writers and explore their views on the market, and what should or shouldn’t feature in a YA horror book. These days, the internet …

Scary Out There with Sarah Rees Brennan

Scary Out There with Sarah Rees Brennan

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees BrennanIt’s Scary Out There had a witchingly good time talking character, lore, and more with Sarah Rees Brennan, author of Season of the Witch, the tie-in novel for Netflix’s hit show, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

With books like How to Hang a Witch, The Price Guide to the Occult, and Conversion, witchcraft in YA seems to be more popular than ever. Why do you think that is?

Witches are figures of female independence and social disobedience! I think whenever society is having a big conversation about how just our system actually is, how power …

Surviving Records: Found Footage in Print

Surviving Records: Found Footage in Print

found footage illustration through a shaky cam view screenShaky camcorders, baby monitors picking up paranormal activity, mysteriously unearthed videos—it’s no wonder found footage flourishes so well in cinematic horror. It’s visually compelling metafiction that doesn’t undermine audience immersion.

It can be a little harder to pull off in print (especially because the author name on the physical book is rarely also the name of a character inside of it, a limitation The Blair Witch Project marketing team didn’t face when they released fake missing posters of their leads and even convinced some that the actors were dead). But, it can still be a lot of fun and provides …

Q&A for Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies

Q&A for Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies

Jorge and Megan Lacera with a copy of Zombies Don't Eat Veggies

We all know that zombies eat brains. But zombies that eat veggies? Now that’s scary! I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with husband and wife team Megan and Jorge Lacera about their debut picture book, Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies! (Lee & Low, 2019). We also talked about what it’s like writing horror for little kids and why diversity in horror is important.

You don’t see a lot of horror picture books out there for little kids. What made you want to tackle zombies?

Jorge: From the beginning, we knew we wanted to do something that was

Five Great Children’s Poetry Collections for National Poetry Month

Five Great Children’s Poetry Collections for National Poetry Month

I love poetry. Good poetry, like good prose, makes you think and makes you feel. With April being National Poetry Month, I thought I’d take the opportunity to look at some excellent horror poetry collections for young readers.

Writing horror for children is a unique balancing act of being scary but not too scary. Add in meter, rhythm, and often rhyme and it can be difficult to pull off. Each of the books below have definite creep factor while still being fun and accessible to the younger reader.

So if you are thinking of writing your own young horror poetry,

Murder Most Fowl and Other Holiday Horrors

Murder Most Fowl and Other Holiday Horrors

demonic turkeys with overlaid flamesSomewhere in the United States this moment, a large turkey—with glorious plumage, I would like to imagine—doesn’t know that he’s already been selected for presidential pardon for the American Thanksgiving holiday next week. In classrooms across the country, kids are consuming read-aloud picture books about other turkeys running from feast centerpiece fates. Many classroom games and educational activities are built to the theme of staving off the imminent death of the turkey—hide the turkey, disguise the turkey.

Can you, young schoolchild, alter this bird’s fate and save his life?

It’s all fun and games, and then we expect the child …

Evil Teachers and Beyond: 5 School Scare Sources

Evil Teachers and Beyond: 5 School Scare Sources

Scary school bus

The days are getting shorter and cooler, and ravaged store displays are picked-over, having only straggling survivors among the pencils, notebooks, and backpacks. Children and teens have mysteriously vanished from public places on weekdays… It’s Back to School season! In honor of returning yellow school buses, here are five school aspects to be mined for your horror stories.

1) Mind Control

Kids in classroom

From preschool to high school, kids spend a large portion of their day having someone else tell them what to do. Wear this. Eat now. Do this work now. You need the bathroom? The break’s in 15 minutes, so

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. …

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 …

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

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