Become a Writer Today

15 Best Horror Authors: Alive and Dead

December 04, 2023 Bryan Collins Season 2
Become a Writer Today
15 Best Horror Authors: Alive and Dead
Show Notes Transcript

I am thrilled to share that in the latest episode of the "Become a Writer Today" podcast, I've profiled 15 of the best horror authors, both alive and dead. If you're a fan of horror or looking to explore the genre, this episode is a must-listen!

Here are 3 key takeaways from this episode:

1️⃣ Stephen King: Known as the master of horror, Stephen King's entry point into the genre is his debut novel "Carrie." Don't miss his other iconic works like "Pet Sematary," "The Shining," and "The Stand."

2️⃣ Bram Stoker: If you're into vampires, you can't miss Bram Stoker's original masterpiece, "Dracula." Explore his other chilling works like "Dracula's Guest" and "The Jewel of the 7 Stars."

3️⃣ Anne Rice: Alongside Stephen King and Clive Barker, Anne Rice is a favorite horror author. Start with her captivating "Interview with a Vampire" and delve into the mesmerizing Vampire Chronicles series.

Tune in to the episode for more spine-chilling authors and their notable works! Don't forget to leave a review on iTunes and share the podcast with fellow horror enthusiasts. Happy reading, and may your nights be filled with terrifying tales! 🧛‍♂️💀📚

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Thanks for listening!


He's been awarded the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Living Legend of the International Horror Guild, and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association. He's also received the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention, and he's described as the most respected horror writer in all of Britain.


Welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you'll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.


Who are the best horror authors you must read? Hi there. My name is Bryan Collins. Welcome to Become a Writer Today.

I love reading horror books because It's a fascinating genre which can keep you up at night and which you can really sink into. I'm gonna profile 15 of the best horror authors, both alive and dead. Check out the works of these authors if you're looking for an entry point into the horror genre or we're simply looking for something that's a little bit different.

What better way to start a roundup of the best horror authors than by opening with the master of horror, Stephen King. Stephen King writes across many genres today, including fantasy and speculative fiction. The book I'm holding here is called 112263, And it's all about what would happen if a time traveler went back and stopped the assassination of John F Kennedy, but Stephen King is best known for horror. Now he published his 1st book back in 1967, and his debut novel was a horror novel, I'm Talking About Carrie, and that was published in 1971. And in his book on writing, Stephen describes how he wrote the 1st draft of Carrie, said to himself as not very good, and threw it in the bin.

Later, his wife fished it out of the bin and said, Stephen, I really think you've got something here, and that was enough motivation for him to keep going. If you're looking for some horror books by Stephen King, Carrie is going to be your entry point, but I'd also recommend that you check out Pet Sematary, The Shining, and The Stand. Salem's Lot is another good title too. And, of course, Stephen continues to write horror occasionally today.

The next entry on this list is from the same country that I'm from. I'm talking about Bram Stoker who's from Ireland. He's synonymous with vampires having written the original Dracula book. He lived between 1847 and 1912 until he passed away after suffering from several strokes.

In 1987, the Bram Stoker Award was established, And this has been awarded every year since then to new horror authors. Definitely one to check out should be looking for some contemporary horror authors to find. But if you're gonna read something by Bram Stoker, of course, you're gonna start with Dracula, but I'd also recommend that you check out Dracula's Guest and The Jewel of the 7 Stars. And some of the other entries on this list have actually won the Bram Stoker award, and I'll get to those in a moment.

Next up, we have Shirley Jackson. She was born in 1916, And this American author wrote horror books like The Haunting of Hill House, which was published in 1959, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. That book is regarded as one of the best ghost stories of all time. Now sadly, Jackson passed away in 1965 before her work found mainstream success.

But if you wanna check out her books, of course, you're gonna read The Haunting of Hill House, The Letters of Shirley Jackson, We've Always Lived in the Castle, and Dark Tales.

Next on this list is the 1st horror author I ever really enjoyed reading. I'm talking about Englishman Clive Barker. Now he's not just a horror author, He's also a playwright and film director. And in his books, he often merges horror and high fantasy, and he doesn't really follow conventional rules of the horror genre. His debut set of short stories is called the Books of Blood, which Stephen King loved. And several of his subsequent stories have been turned into movies, including Hellraiser and Candyman. Barker has also received an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for his work on Gods and Monsters, a period drama which was published in 1998.

If you wanna check out some of his horror books, check out the Books of Blood volume 1, The Hellbound Heart, and Weaveworld, which is probably my favorite book by Clive Barker.

Dean Koontz isn't somebody you'd necessarily think of when you're considering the best horror authors, but he's actually written a number of best selling horror novels and novellas. It's hard to decide which one of them is the scariest because there's so many to choose from. He writes about phantoms, ghosts, serial killers, and more, and even likes to throw in a little bit of science fiction. Some of his best works include The Other Emily, 77 Shadow Street, and The Lost of Soul of the City.

Mid Roll:

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Anne Rice is one of my favorite horror authors alongside Stephen King and Clive Barker. Now she's best known for the Vampire Chronicles. The 1st book in that series is called Interview with a Vampire. This book introduces us to Lestat and Louis.

An Interview with a Vampire was turned into a fantastic film in the 1990s, which was a big hit. I'm talking about Interview with a Vampire starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. Now Anne Rice has sold more than 80,000,000 copies of that particular book. And, of course, there are many books in the vampire series that you can read or sink your teeth into. Sadly, Anne passed away in 2021. If you're gonna read Interview with a Vampire, I'd also recommend checking out the Vampire Chronicles and Blackwood Farm.

Edgar Allan Poe is one of America's most beloved poets and short story authors, having written classic books like The Raven and The Telltale Heart. He lived between 1809 and 1849, and his death was just as mysterious as his life.

A great deal of speculation surrounds the manner and cause of death, which was technically marked as phrenitis, a condition that caused brain inflammation at the time. But the cause is actually unknown. Some of his best works include The Raven, The Tell-tale Heart and Other Stories, and The Fall of the House of Usher.

H. P. Lovecraft is an acclaimed short story author from Rhode Island. He was born in 1890 to parents Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft and Winfield Scott Lovecraft. He showed an early interest in the English language and began reciting poetry when he was just 2 years of age.

He began reading a few years later, and he started writing his own book when he was just 6. Now unfortunately, Lovecraft suffered from mental illness throughout his life, but he supported himself through ghostwriting and revising works by other authors. He died in 1937 of intestinal cancer. Some of his best works include At the Mountains of Madness, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and H. P. Lovecraft Tales of Horror.

Ramsay Campbell is one of the most awarded authors in the horror genre. He's been awarded the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, The Living Legend of the International Horror Guild, and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association.

He's also received the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention, and he's described as the most respected horror writer in all of Britain. Some books to check out by him include The Darkest Part of the Woods, Born to Dark, The Searching Dead, and Alone with the Horrors.

Richard Madison was a popular science fiction, horror, and fantasy author, And many of his books were turned into movies for the big screen. Did you know he wrote his 1st book when he was just 8 years old? He said at the time that that book was inspired by the 1939 movie, Dracula. He served in World War 2, attended University of Missouri, and earned a bachelor's degree. Then he went on to write horror books like Hell House, I Am Legend, which was turned into a film starring Will Smith, What Dreams May Come and A Stir of Echoes.

Peter Straub is a famous American poet and novelist who's written dozens of horror fiction books. He cowrote The Talisman with fellow horror author Stephen King who he considers a close friend.

He's also won the Bram Stoker Award, the International Horror Guild Award, and the World Fantasy Award. He lives in Milwaukee, and his children too like to write books and films. Some of his best works include Coco Mystery, The Throat, Ghost Story, and Floating Dragon.

Ray Bradbury is an American author of short stories and poetry. He was born in Illinois in 1920, and he spent his childhood growing up and living in small towns around the United States, an aspect that flavors his books. Now sadly, he passed away in 2012, but he had a really prolific career. He wrote over 50 novels and 400 short stories. Now he's best known for the science fiction book Fahrenheit 451. He also wrote The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion, Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Dan Simmons is an American writer of horror books and science fiction. He began his career by publishing work in the Twilight Zone magazine, and he has since won the World Fantasy Award for his work on Song of Kali. He's also won the Locust Award for his seasons of horror series, and he's also won the Bram Stoker Award. Some of his best works include Hyperion, which is a science fiction book, which I read a few years ago on holidays, The Fall of Hyperion, which is the follow on, Endymion, The Rise of Endymion, and the Children of the Night.

Daphne du Maurier was born in 1907. She's the author of the esteemed horror novel, Jamaica Inn. This is a thrilling mystery about a woman who moves in with her aunt and uncle into a home located on a dangerous part of town.

Now she's best known for her romance novels, but much of her writing has elements of horror. Sadly, she passed away in 1989. But you can check out books by her including Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, French Men's Creep, The House on the Strand, and The King's General.

Finally, we have another author that Stephen King is a big fan of. In fact, he called Jack Ketchum the scariest guy in America. Ketchum spent time working as a lumber salesman, teacher, and performer, and even as a literary agent to make ends meet between publishing horror novels. 5 of his books have been adapted for the big screen, and the cross scenes was mentioned in a speech at the National Book Awards in 2003 by Stephen King. Sadly, he died in 2018 after a long battle with cancer, aged just 71. Some of his best works include The Girl Next Door, Off Season, Offspring, The Woman, and also Red.

Those are just some of the best horror authors working today and also from times gone by. Pick any of these books, and you'll certainly find a trailer which could keep you up at night. Now you'll notice that some of the authors that I've mentioned right across the genres. Authors like Stephen King also like to try fantasy, speculative fiction, and science fiction. So if you find yourself enjoying a horror book by one of these authors, It could also be a good entry point into another genre.


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