The Mouth of the Dark by Tim Waggoner
• Paperback: 240 pages
• Publisher: FLAME TREE PRESS; New edition edition (6 Sept. 2018)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 1787580121
• ISBN-13: 978-1787580121
BLURB: Jayce’s twenty-year-old daughter Emory is missing, lost in a dark, dangerous realm called Shadow that exists alongside our own reality. An enigmatic woman named Nicola guides Jayce through this bizarre world, and together they search for Emory, facing deadly dog-eaters, crazed killers, homicidal sex toys, and – worst of all – a monstrous being known as the Harvest Man. But no matter what Shadow throws at him, Jayce won’t stop. He’ll do whatever it takes to find his daughter, even if it means becoming a worse monster than the things that are trying to stop him.
We’re entering a new golden era of horror, please discuss.
I think we’ve definitely entered a new era of horror, one where creators are striving to break new literary and cinematic ground. Equally as exciting, audiences and critics alike are starting to take the genre seriously as an artform.
Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu allow creators to think in terms of visual novels instead of single films, and since audiences can binge watch them, they get a similar experience to reading a novel. They become immersed in setting, character, and mood in a way that simply isn’t possible in a 90-120 minute film. Stranger Things is probably the most popular of these streaming horror series at the moment.
Youtube’s given rise to a new generation of creators who’ve developed interactive series exploring different narrative structures for horror, allowing them to find ways to tell scary stories for an audience raised on technology. Web series like Marble Hornets and Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, along with sites like Creepypasta, were born from the Internet and take full advantage of its possibilities. If you want to learn more about horror web series, check out Nick Nocturne’s Night Mind channel on Youtube.
There’s been a wealth of quality horror movies that have come out in the last few years, both indie and large-budget studio productions. Filmmakers are creating stories which focus on how characters are affected by the horrors they experience, instead of characters merely serving as empty ciphers for an equally empty threat to dispatch. The best horror stories aren’t about monsters; they’re about how people are affected by monsters (or becoming monsters themselves). Today’s horror filmmakers – such as Mike Flanagan, James Wan, Jordan Peele, Jennifer Kent, and the Soska Sisters – know this. They’re also conscious of finding new and innovative was to engage, scare, disturb, and unnerve audiences. Social commentary – once thought to be the sole province of art with a capital A – is the core of films such as Get Out and the Purge series. And Blumhouse is providing solid horror entertainment with franchises like The Conjuring and Insidious, making that studio the modern-day inheritor of THE horror studio, a mantle once held by Universal and Hammer. Some recent standouts: The Babadook, It Follows, Get Out, A Quiet Place, Train to Busan, Bone Tomahawk, It Comes at Night, Before I Wake, American Mary, The Endless, The Witch, mother!, Hereditary, and the recent King adaptions of It and Gerald’s Game.
And of course the realm of prose horror fiction – which is where I ply my trade – is also part of this golden age. Stephen King’s popularity continues unabated, and his son Joe Hill is carrying on the family tradition with his fine novels. Literary horror writers such as Paul Tremblay, Caitlin R. Kiernan, John Langan, Laird Barron, Elizabeth Hand, Jeffrey Ford, and Marisha Pessl are producing some of the best work in the genre today. Dark suspense (which I think of as horror-adjacent) is hugely popular with readers, and books by authors such as Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins are bestsellers. The popularity of Young Adult horror continues unabated, with readers devouring books by Ransom Riggs, Holly Black, Madeline Roux, Hilary Monahan, Dia Reeves, and more. The small-press scene in horror remains vibrant, with publishers such as Flame Tree Press, Cemetery Dance, Crystal Lake Publishing, Omnium Gatherum, Deadite Press, Nightscape Press, Raw Dog Screaming Press, Journalstone, Apex Publications, Chizine Publications. Word Horde and others putting out one great book after another. The self-publishing revolution has provided new avenues for writers to get their work to readers, and horror is no exception to this. From new writers like Matt Shaw to traditionally published authors like Bryan Smith and Gaby Triana, self-publishing allows authors to create a direct connection to readers, permitting them to give their audience what it wants or experiment with work that mainstream publishers are reluctant to bring out.
I grew up in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s reading horror comics, watching old-time scary movies every weekend on Shock Theatre, reading the first novels of Stephen King, and going to movie theaters to see future horror classics such as The Thing, Reanimator, and Return of the Living Dead. When I see work from horror creators of my generation, I instinctively understand their influences because they’re part of my imaginative DNA, too. But I can’t wait to see what young people who are absorbing all the wonderful work in horror being done today eventually create. I suspect then we’ll be talking about horror’s NEW new golden age.
ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tim Waggoner’s novels include the Nekropolis series of urban fantasies and the Ghost Trackers series written in collaboration with Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of the Ghost Hunters television show. In total, he’s published over twenty novels and two short story collections, and his articles on writing have appeared in Writer’s Digest and Writers’ Journal, among others. He teaches creative writing at Sinclair Community College and in Seton Hill University’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program.
Visit him on the web at http://www.timwaggoner.com