World of Horror: Introduction to International Horror Month 2023 by Alan Baxter
By Alan Baxter
It has long been recognised that the USA is the main focus of attention when it comes to horror fiction. If that hasn’t been noticed by people in North America, it most certainly has by everyone outside the country. But there is a growing interest in horror set beyond America’s shores, and for stories written by authors from other countries and other cultures. One of my most successful books is The Gulp, an unashamedly Australian collection of horror stories set very much in rural New South Wales, Australia. We’ve seen a surge of successful horror from European writers like Alessandro Manzetti, from British writers like Gemma Amor and Ross Jeffery, from New Zealanders like Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts, Australians like Kaaron Warren and Aaron Dries, Nigerians like Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Chinaza Eziaghighala. This list goes on and on. These people and so many more are writing world-class horror that is being recognised internationally both in sales attention and award shortlistings.
The growing diversity we’re seeing in published horror is uplifting for the entire genre, and that diversity is evident in every facet of the authors whose work is finding an audience. There was a time when an author outside America would be advised by agents, publishers and fellow authors alike to set their work in America. Stories from other countries and informed by other cultures were always considered a hard sell. Of course, many of us did exactly that in an effort to carve out a name for ourselves. Many of us also tried to circumnavigate the issue with stories that took place in our country and America, or stories that featured a protagonist like us but set in America. However, slowly and surely, American publishing and readers alike have come to embrace stories from beyond their own borders. That’s wonderful for them, as it gives them new stories, but it’s wonderful for us as well, as we finally get to share both our love of horror and our country, culture and particular idiosyncrasies. From being advised to avoid setting stories outside America, there’s now an ever-growing hunger for those yarns. And many world-class authors are only too ready to comply.
But still, one significant factor limits our reach. The tyranny of distance and the cost of travel means that for many of us it’s next to impossible to visit the United States to make our names and our work better known. With the growth in publisher reach and the ever-expanding powers of the internet, international authors have the opportunity to reach further beyond their borders than ever before, but there’s still something restrictive about being so physically far away from the biggest English-speaking audience there is.
That’s where this program comes in. With the help of a stellar team from the HWA, we’re going to bring you a month of international horror voices. We’re reaching out across the globe to as many international horror writers working in English as we can find. We’re sticking this time to people writing in English, as translation presents a whole new set of challenges, but as this endeavour develops, so too will our reach. We’ll bring you interviews discussing their work, their influences, the nature of their country and culture’s impact on their work, and their own favourite international horror writers. We hope you’ll read along and find some new favourite authors along the way.
Alan Baxter is a multi-award-winning author of horror, supernatural thrillers and dark fantasy liberally mixed with crime, mystery and noir. This Is Horror podcast calls him “Australia’s master of literary darkness” and the Talking Scared podcast dubbed him “The Lord of Weird Australia.” He’s also a martial arts expert, a whisky-soaked swear monkey, and dog lover. He creates dark, weird stories among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, where he lives with his family and other animals. Find him online at his website.