As anyone who was paying attention to UM in the fall will know, I plunged deeply into the world of horror for most of September and October. By the time I finished up the epic undertaking of It’s All Connected 2020, I took a break from watching a lot of horror movies throughout most of November, but kept on making my way through my daunting To Read boxes. To that end, I pulled out an old paperback I scored from the library’s free table several years ago as well as the next Paperbacks From Hell reprint from my favorite publisher Valancourt!
As you may know from my various writings about their Paperbacks From Hell series, I have become an avid follower of Valancourt Publishing. So, a few months back when I saw that they had started a new imprint called Monster, She Wrote, I got very excited. A series of books with consistent cover art spotlighting female horror and weird fiction? I was in! But, I was having trouble finding the non-fiction book that started it all! What happened and how did it work out?Enter, if you dare…
I feel like, by this point, my love of all things Paperbacks From Hell and Valancourt Books is well-established. If you follow that first link you’ll see my review for the book that started me down this path as well as the first installment in Valancourt’s PFH series, The Nest. I’ve also written about the imprint’s Stage Fright as well Manhattan Ghost Story, which I first found out about through the original book. Now I’m getting back to the original series with the second installment in Valancourt’s Paperbacks From Hell line, When Darkness Loves Us by Elizabeth Engstrom. Wow, it was good.
Immediately after finding my way to the excellent Valancourt Books while reading Paperbacks From Hell, I became enamored with the publisher and their PFH label. I’d missed the first ten entries (though I’m going back and picking them up as I make my way through the series), but I didn’t want to miss out on future installments, so I jumped at the chance to pre-order the next one they announced: the 1988 horror-sci-fi-action-thriller Stage Fright by Garrett Boattman. I mean, just look at that cover!
As I mentioned when I wrote about Paperbacks From Hell and The Nest, my latest obsession is paperback horror from the 70s, 80s and 90s. After reading the former book and getting the reprint of the latter from the fantastic Valancourt Books, I made my way over to ThriftBooks armed with the list of titles I wanted to check out from PFH and ordered about a half dozen novels. Honestly, I couldn’t remember what most of them were about or what about the initial writing made me want to check them out, but I figured I could trust myself. With a stack of books featuring titles like The Glow, Heads and Obelisk, I found myself initially drawn to T.M. Wright’s 1984 book A Manhattan Ghost Story. It was a great choice, I must say!
Do you ever keep hearing about an author so many times that reading their books just seems like a delightful inevitability. That was kind of the case with Grady Hendrix. I remember his early fiction books getting talked about on my favorite horror podcast, Shock Waves, and then he went on to appear on the show a few times (a bonus ep from May 2017 and episode 115 if you’re looking for specifics). Between those appearances and the time he showed up on Teen Creeps (episode 150), Hendrix quickly jumped way up on my radar of authors to keep an eye out for. Luckily, several of his books, including Horrorstor and Paperbacks From Hell soon showed up on the cheap digitally and I grabbed them both. I briefly wrote about the former in my 2019 year end list, but now it’s time to talk about Paperbacks…and what it’s lead to.