On Horror Writing

I wrote Horror Business between the ages of 22-23 during a time when I was obsessed with B-movie horror and reading a lot of horror theory. At the time, I think I wanted it to come off as my own critique of horror and male adolescence. Really pretentious stuff.

I self-published through Lulu, sold enough copies to pay my Brooklyn rent for a couple months (thank you family and friends!). It’s gone through a couple revisions, gotten a shout-out by Jim Ruland, but I think it’s pretty much gone as far as a self-published piece can go.

“Bradford’s debut is both a spirited homage to horror and a cautionary tale about the perils of loving scary movies too much.” – Jim Ruland

There is some admittedly embarrassing writing (plot-devices), but there’s also some really sharp scenes that I can go back and read without closing my eyes. It wasn’t until I started researching places to submit that I realized how hard it is to sell horror without relegating it to genre-fiction. I think that Horror Business is a little more introspective (timid?) than  bloodlusty/Fangoria-esque writing that marks genre horror, but maybe not as lyrical as some of the horrific indie-lit that comes to mind (done really well by Blake Butler and Nick Antosca).

9 thoughts on “On Horror Writing

      1. Well now that I’ve finished it, I can say I really loved your book. Gave me legit shivers in quite a number of places, especially anything to do with the camera recording him. Switching between the different sections (the film, movie script, dog, etc) worked really well to set up the creep factor as well. You’ve also really got the narration down – I usually avoid first person stories because they tend to seem forced or stilted, but the narration flowed well and had a lot of personality. All in all, just a freakin’ good book.

        Have you ever read Joe Hill’s novel Heart Shaped Box? You book reminded me of it a little bit, at least in the subtle creepiness. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it.

      2. Thank you so much for the kind words! Glad you liked it; glad-er that it scared you a little bit.

        And yes, I love Joe Hill. I blew through Horns and consider 20th Century Ghosts one of the best short story collections I’ve ever read. Haven’t read Heart Shaped Box yet, but it’ll happen soon. That guy is just so talented.

    1. Thank you! My parents ended up liking it. Or maybe they’re just really good liars.

      Hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think.

  1. Hey,

    That was a great story! It creeped me out and made me feel all awkward and puberty stricken again. Thanks for sharing it. My favourite parts were the sections with people talking about their favourite scary movies. The kid who talked about ghosts nailed it.

    If you are going anywhere with this you should get someone to go through and proof read it, there are a few repeated words and sentences with inconsistent grammar. But otherwise that was solid work.

    1. Hello there! Really appreciate the feedback and the kind words. It’s really interesting/great hearing about people’s favorite parts. This was written before any of the Paranormal Activity movies came out, but it seems like those are the movies (in recent times, at least) that have really nailed what the kids in Horror Biz think is scary about ghost movies: Long shots of nothing, negative space and so on.

      And yeah I’ve been casually going through the edition that you guys are reading and noting some typos. It’s always a little cringe-inducing to see after you’ve gone over the piece again and again.

      I think there are a lot of parts in this book that could use serious rewrites and overhauls, but these days, it’s hard enough getting people to read your stuff, let alone finding a someone who’s willing to edit for little to no money. And that’s sort of the sad-but-true stigma of self-publishing.

      Again, thanks for reading! Really happy that it made you awkward and pubertyish.

      1. Thank you for writing!

        And yeah that is why I suggested having somebody else read it. I can re read something I wrote 10 times and miss the same stupid typo that someone else will get on the first look through. I would imagine that self-publishing would be tough though. I work in a crappy tourist shop in a train/bus station and people always tell me what a fantastic selection of books we have and proceed to buy the least original novels I’ve ever seen… like Twilight… or that book by Snooki… or two different biographies on Steve Jobs… or my personal favourites which are the variety of make yourself smarter self help books. I always want to tell them to just read a good book… it’ll expand your mind more than any of that crap. Maybe I’ll start selling alternative books under the table. Make some extra money while doing a service to the public.

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