In what could rightfully be deemed a revival of the horror genre, two things have happened of late. The first has evidenced itself cinematically, with new spine-tingling features coming to screens in the veritable gush of Stephen King stories-turned-films on streaming platforms and Hollywood both (Gerald’s Game though, sigh) alongside a swarm of other new horrifying literary adaptations, like Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (originally published in 1959), revivals of nostalgic, spooktastic series like Goosebumps (I previously wrote on the same here), new installments in the Halloween franchise (the film that quite literally cut its teeth biting off what’s since been known as the slasher genre), and a general enchantment with watching all things existing on the spectrum of terror—from true-story haunting series like Netflix’s Haunted to cooking shows (and not the scary Gordon Ramsey kind, unfortunately). Even Halloween, which didn’t reach 2017’s record high in spending last month, did achieve an impressive $9b, a significant amount being spent on costumes—and pet costumes. (I feel the need to remark Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas’s Gomez and Morticia Addams costumes, which, if you have not yet seen them on the Internet, are spectacular).
Of course, we don’t only like to watch horror or dress up like it, but we like to read it as well. The last year has seen the publication of several spectacular horror titles, among them Claire Legrand’s Sawkill Girls and The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager. Thus, the second shift in the revival of the horror genre has been a call, not to the directorial or theatrically inclined, but to the writers—particularly to the women of horror fiction, a historically underrepresented group in the genre (I’m speaking of adult horror, sparkly vampires don’t count). From boutique indie publishing houses with open calls looking for stories by (or about) ladies of shivery goodness, like Stangehouse Books, to new bookish review and author fan groups like the Ladies of Horror Fiction who tweet, podcast, review, and otherwise champion the women’s horror writing market, the invitation to join the club of horror writers has grown wide, inclusive, and unabashedly interested in producing work that has the ability to scare the hell out of all of us.
So, to keep us in a steady supply of creepy new stuff to make our blood run cold, while King is offering rights to his short stories for $1 to film students via the Dollar Babies program, the publishing community is serving up its own set of opportunities. And if there’s one thing that those of us saddled with the sometimes-competitive-and-often-masochistic author gene simply can’t resist it’s a chance to show our stuff in a battle of writing wits, namely, a contest—maybe even one that could put us in the running for the coveted Bram Stoker award (I’m just saying).
This year, Inkshares, the publisher of speculative fiction which has produced two standouts—in 2017, Scott Thomas’ Kill Creek, a debut literary horror that was selected by the American Library Association’s advisory committee as the horror book of the year, shortlisted for the Bram Stoker, termed “the horror debut of 2017” by Barnes & Noble, and is in development for television at Showtime, and this year Christopher Huang’s A Gentleman’s Murder, which, in addition to receiving a coveted starred review from Publishers Weekly, is in development at Endeavor Content with the former heads of HBO and Showtime—has just opened a call for submissions for its second-annual Horror Novel Contest.
I’ll go ahead and mention that both Inkshares authors of the aforementioned titles have had their books licensed by major houses in foreign territories and gotten their cold, skeletal fingers on significant five-figure advances. Not accomplishments to snub a nose at for sure.
It’s also worth pointing out, just for the record, that both authors are men. So, ladies of horror, let’s make this year’s contest one for the books (pun!). Seasoned or aspiring writers alike, whip out your pens, pencils, or whatever writing device you use, and start (or finish) that horror book that’s been whispering dark thoughts in your ears. Whether you’re a Morticia, a Lily, or an Elvira herself, ready your best horror manuscript and get your submission on. The horror genre is back—just check out this article by my literary agent Italia Gandolfo—and this time it’s ours.
Submissions are open now through December 14th (I’ll say it again for the folks in the back--submissions are open until December 14th) and are open to anyone with a partial or finished horror manuscript. Inkshares will be accepting at least three novelists for publication and rights management. Full submission details and other nuances of eligibility here.