My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Horror 101: The Way Forward” edited by Joe Mynhardt explores a tremendous territory of information, advice, and experience with essays written by many different creatives who work in the genre. These essays are organized into four main sections about the horror genre itself, the artistic opportunities in horror, writing horror, and building and maintaining a career in horror. There are some very useful commonalities to be found between various essays, but there are many differences, too, and even contradictory information. I love that. I found this mix especially inspiring because it underscores just how much room there is for you and me to explore the genre as singular readers, writers, artists, and enthusiasts. Even when I told myself I would absolutely *NOT* emulate what a particular essayist has done in their career, I loved learning about their experiences and how this only proves how wide open horror is.
Most of the essays are great, but I especially loved Ellen Datlow’s contribution about “What a Short Story Editor Does.” This essay really opened my eyes to how difficult it can be to break through in professional, paying markets, but it also inspired me to take on that challenge. The entire “Dirty Deeds (Being a Writer)” section was fantastic because I recently started writing horror again; I’ll revisit this section frequently in the months and years to come. Essays about networking and conventions by Lucy A. Snyder, R.J. Cavender, and Tim Waggoner finally convinced me that networking is not entirely an awful thing, and they have some useful tips about how to push yourself to network if you are an introvert, and how not to be an asshole in the process. Speaking of dealing with assholes, Theresa Derwin’s wonderful “Class: Vaginas in Horror” is a must-read.
I’m writing a horror novel this NaNoWriMo 2018, and this book fits right in with my process by helping to keep me writing regularly, and also inspiring me to reach for quality in my writing, too, despite the quantity of words I’m attempting to accomplish in a short amount of time. Let these essays wash over you even if some of them don’t directly apply to your own dreams in horror; you’ll discovery, I hope, that you are part of a fascinating, complex, and increasingly diverse community in which there is room for everyone. Everyone is finding their own path forward, and some are providing guideposts along the way.