Most Texans are well aware of our solid history in horror and alternative films, from Texas Chainsaw Massacre to the more recent works of Robert Rodriguez. Slightly less known is the important role our state has played in the development of many horror writers.
Texas has long attracted notable writers of the science fiction, horror, and fantasy genres, going back to at least the late '20s when a young man named Robert Ervin Howard, living in Cross Plains, began writing adventure stories for the seminal pulp magazine Weird Tales.
Howard would go on to create the ultimate barbarian hero, Conan, pioneering the "Sword and Sorcery" genre of fantasy with that character and others. He also was friends with H.P. Lovecraft and penned several still-frightening horror stories, before his death in 1936 at the age of 30.
Michael Moorcock, the British writer responsible for characters like Elric of Melnibone, and occasional collaborator with the space rock band Hawkwind, has also lived in Texas for the last few decades. There must be something about this state that writers of the fantastic find stimulating, and some of those currently working here should be better known and reach larger audiences.
These three authors who call Texas home are currently writing stories that genre fans should seek out as soon as they can.
Don Webb was born in Amarillo during a time when that city was probably best known for its Cold War-era Plutonium production. He was first published professionally in 1986, and has 20 books covering horror, mystery, poetry, and non-fiction occult. He has taught Science Fiction writing for UCLA extension since 2002, and makes his home in Austin.
Webb states, "I have been nominated for and not won very prestigious awards. Last year alone I lost both the Shirley Jackson Award and the International Horror Critics Award. I am hoping to not win other awards of note in coming years. I had been cited in Best American Short Stories (as well as 70 other citing in one "best of the year" list or another)."
Webb has an evocative style of writing that draws the reader into the worlds he creates, and this is especially evident in his horror writing, much of which takes on Lovecraftian themes. He has a way of using a turn of phrase that is both engaging as well as entertaining. There is lots of darkly humorous material peppered in his storytelling. Short stories such as "The Jest of Yig" and "A Little Night Music" showcase Webb's talents nicely. Any fan of weird and frightening fiction should seek out his work as soon as possible. Many of his books are available through Amazon and other book sellers.
Webb has a 30-year retrospective of works inspired by H.P. Lovecraft coming out in August, titled "Through Dark Angles." It's available from Hippocampus Press, and is definitely worth picking up for any horror fan.
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Amy Lee Burgess is originally from New England, but now calls Houston her home after being forced out of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina slammed into the city.
She had been writing off and on since high school, and dove back into it with renewed vigor after her relocation to Houston. Burgess's work centers around charismatic werewolf and vampire characters, and fans of Anne Rice or Charlaine Harris will find a lot to love in her stories. Her tales are rich in atmosphere and feature both compelling plots with deep back stories, as well as witty dialogue that draws the reader into the world of characters like Stanzie Newcastle (a wolf shifter) and the sexy vampire Claire. Burgess skillfully weaves intricate plots through her supernatural series of books, with rich, honest characterizations that truly engage the reader.
Both her "Wolf Within" and "The Circle" series are available for download through Amazon, as well as Kensington Publishing. They are immersive, and well worth reading on a rainy Houston night (or any night, for that matter).
Austin Malone is a displaced New Orleans native now living in Houston. He primarily writes short stories, and his work covers a broad spectrum of styles, ranging from Fantasy to Science Fiction and Horror. His short story "Crash and Burn" is worth finding, as even a jaded horror fan like myself found it to be an intense and disturbing read. Of course, I mean that in the best way possible. Malone's work deftly explores themes of death, despair, and pain.
Malone's work has been published in anthologies like "Sword & Laser Anthology" and "A Fancy Dinner Party," both of which are available on Amazon.
All three of these authors currently working in Texas have a lot to offer any fan of the weird and frightening. Texas has always had a dark side lurking in the shadows of its blistering sun, and these writers will remind you just how good it feels to let that darkness in for a while.
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