Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dark Dreamers, edited by Stanley Wiater (1990): First You Dream, Then You Die

Although this is the first nonfiction book I've written about here, it's absolutely appropriate: Dark Dreamers: Conversations with the Masters of Horror collects journalist Stanley Wiater's interviews with the very best horror writers of its day - and many of all time: Bloch, Matheson, King, Barker, Straub, Campbell, as well as (at the time) up-and-comers like Lansdale, Skipp & Spector, and Robert McCammon. While some of the writers covered do nothing for me (yes, there are a few), any behind-the-scenes info on the writing of horror and its attendant difficulties and rewards is fascinating.

Clive Barker lays out his ambition to write horror fiction that confronts and confounds; Richard Matheson realizes you can never escape the horror label; Richard Laymon admits he tempers his fondness for gore to get mainstream publications; Charles L. Grant reveals his wish to make a Val Lewton-type movie; Gary Brandner intimates the real horror hell is Hollywood; James Herbert lets it be known he was a horror writer from birth; Les Daniels speaks of the dream which gave him his idea for his historical vampire novels; Steve King and Peter Straub team up to talk of the perception of horror fiction in the mainstream literary world; and of course Whitley Strieber gotta talk about those damn aliens.

All that and more, Dark Dreamers is a wonderful exploration of the men (alas all, save for one Ms. Rice) who imagine the darkest, the bleakest, the blackest of worlds, so that we might see better in this one.


  1. Wow, what a great find! I've just gotten done reading a similar tome... Jones' and Newman's Horror: 100 Best Books. I always find the insights of writers and other horror artists extremely fascinating. Thanks for pointing this one out, mate.

  2. Yes, indeed. A lot of the writers in it I'm not crazy about but their insights are still pretty interesting. It's always great to hear about how people earn their living writing stuff they love.

  3. Nice. Will look into this one.

    Just picked up THE RATS this avo.