As part of promoting Horror during October, we’ve asked authors to talk about a horror book or author that has made an impact on them. This first entry comes from Eddie Generous, who operates Unnerving Magazine.
Shine on the Path
I’d never read a Stephen King book until about five years ago, maybe closer to six. My jokey motto was that I hadn’t gotten to contemporary books because there was so much old stuff to read. Have you read Sherlock Holmes? It wasn’t just Mr. Conan Doyle, I was heavy into Dostoevsky, I read some Tolstoy, got halfway through Gogol’s stuff, and into a smidge of Turgenev, plus a ton of one offs. There’s a long explanation as to how this came about, but that’s a different story altogether.
This fascination in classics, primarily Russian, existed and thrived despite the fact I’d grown up reading from between the bumpy covers of Goosebumps books and was absolutely hooked on horror flicks. The tendency to reach beyond classics began a year after I wrote my first utter piece of trash novel. I really hadn’t read much of anything contemporary in a decade and in general was not reading nearly enough to be writing, these facts eventually gnawed at the idea that maybe my novel was shit (though still clinging to that absurd rookie author notion of inherit abilities).
I was broke. I was in the midst of a thinning streak of temp jobs and short-term laboring spots, as well as more than fifty unanswered resume submissions. Huzzah to the market crash!
A fully-fledged melancholy desperation had its grips on me. I was selling off hobby items and shedding social expectations; still drinking my face off fairly regularly, but alone. My wife had a good position and was the only reason I didn’t have to head west to the oil fields. A good position meant going into debt a little bit more every month instead of a lot more.
I was down to my last things of easy value (hockey collectables). In the case of this anecdote, it was limited edition Montreal Canadiens stamps. There were no money offers for the stamps, but there was a reply. This dude told me his ex (a woman who had jetted on him in 1990) left hardcovers behind, if I wanted to swap. I went to his house. He was little guy, pudgy with yellow skin, wearing a flannel with the buttons open, clean grey joggers. He said I could take any fifteen books from the shelf. Most were water damaged, but what did I care? I needed to get more writing in me. I halfway saw reading as a chore back then.
Several weeks later I’d read five of the books: Bachman’s Thinner, a couple Koontz yarns, a Mary Higgins-Clark, and some other god-awful crime thriller, and then I opened The Shining. It’s said that sometimes books find you and that really seems like what happened.
Here was something I’d never read before. An uncannily realistic, screaming, arm-busting daddy (a character I had in the household cast growing up) in the midst of breakdown, suffering the burden of being useless to society, drinking his family to pieces (art imitates life and life repeats itself with a new set of players every day).
It was winter, in the midst of cold-snap like I’d never experienced, there were dead cars in lots and on the sides of streets, ice forming around the interior of our window frames, news of homeless succumbing all over the province, and there I was, stuck in this story with these people who felt real to me on so many levels.
I finally understood the full power of the right book.
I was there at the Overlook.
I was Jack.
I was Danny.
The world outside was a desolate winter wonderland and the hedges were aiming to get me.
I read it over two days (I’m not an especially quick reader) and ever since, I’ve been chasing the feeling The Shining gave me, chasing a Shine of my own.
I’ve tried to grasp and pass on what I experienced within those pages with new horrors and old horrors re-told. The Shining was the first step to today and all the words I’ve strung together, it’s how I eventually came to open and manage Unnerving. It’s how I learned there truly are the right books just waiting to be picked up.
Eddie Generous is a Canadian living on the Pacific coast with his wife and their cats. He operates a fledgling literary horror outfit aptly named Unnerving. An anthology he’s compiled and edited, Hardened Hearts, is due out in December. In 2018, Hellbound Books is releasing a collection of his novelettes titled Dead is Dead, but Not Always.
Synopsis: Issue #4 of Unnerving Magazine is the biggest yet, loaded with monsters, devils, ghosts, the undead, rotten sons ‘o… and so much more. Gwendolyn Kiste offers up literary Halloween costume ideas while Stephen Graham Jones and Mark Allan Gunnells chat life’s most important holiday.