The art of horror writing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2018
- Deborah Chu
- 12 July 2018
This article is from 2018.
Horror experts Sally Gardner, Charlie Higson and Darren Shan lead a panel about penning stories that leave readers on edge
An event on horror writing may seem oddly-placed in the Edinburgh International Book Festival's children's programme. Or rather, its inclusion is testament to a literary mode that – despite centuries of critics thumbing their nose at such 'genre fiction' – has secured a storied lineage that stretches from Mary Shelley to Stephen King, and whose psychological insight has garnered increasing academic scrutiny as well as mass audience appeal.
The panel for How to Write Horror is populated by three prolific and stylistically diverse authors. Charlie Higson published the first novel of his post-apocalyptic zombie-horror series, The Enemy, in 2009, and after seven installments culminated in The End (2015). Sally Gardner's first full-length novel, I, Coriander, nabbed the Smarties Book Prize in 2005 and her Maggot Moon (2012) similarly won the Costa Children's Book Prize and the Carnegie Medal. She's written a darkly evocative take on lycanthropy in Tinder (2013) and her latest novel, My Side of the Diamond, was released last year. They are joined by Darren Shan, whose YA series The Saga of Darren Shan was adapted into the 2009 film Cirque du Freak, while he has also delved into the world of demons for his Demonata series and grappled with the undead in Zom-B.
Aimed at horror enthusiasts and emerging writers alike, the panel will discuss the secret to crafting monstrous characters and paranormal narratives that seize upon the dark corners of the imagination. 'Horror and fear are each other's companion,' Gardner says. 'Good horror writing lets your imagination do all the work and is powerful enough to play upon all your fears.' As such, the one piece of advice that she would give all budding horror writers is that less is often more. 'The unseen and the unknown is far more frightening than when you are told exactly what the monster looks like.'