Have you read Josh Malerman? If you haven’t, you’re missing out on a piece of the best horror fiction I’ve seen in decades–namely his debut novel, Bird Box. It’s so well written, so different from anything out there that it’s like a breath of fresh air blowing a lot of other, lesser stuff aside and reminding you of the subtle, disturbing power good horror has.
Josh and I met through exchanging what’re called “consideration copies” of each other’s books for the Stoker Awards. I sent him The End in All Beginnings. He sent me Bird Box. To say that we were each impressed by the other’s offering is an understatement. I think that, despite having just met each other, and even then only through the internet, and despite having never read anything else by the other, we discovered a deep familiarity with each other and our writing.
We’ve both gone on to tweet and talk about the other. We’ve both gone on to be Stoker-nominated authors this year; him in Superior Achievement in a First Novel for Bird Box and me for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection for The End in All Beginnings. We’ve both talked about meeting up at this year’s World Horror Convention in Atlanta in May and raising a glass. And we will…we will.
But today, oh, today, I saw an interview Josh just gave in support of an upcoming reader event he’ll be participating in. The interview asked Josh to name the five novels that made him fall in love with horror. Josh names The Face of Fear by Dean Koontz, Skeleton Crew by Stephen King, Books of Blood by Clive Barker, The Pet by Charles L. Grant, and…wait for it…The End in All Beginnings by…well…me! Here’s what he has to say about my collection. While you read this, I will be standing over here in the corner, quiet and blushing fiercely:
“A collection of novellas I received in the mail a few months back from a fellow member of the HWA (Horror Writers Association.) I went into it knowing very little about it. Sometimes that’s the best way to read a story, especially a scary one, and sometimes that backfires, which is fine, but it’s true that sometimes it does. So, here I am, now I’m a man and I’ve got my own horror novel published and I’m working on the second one and I open Taff’s book and start reading and a few days later I’m done and I realize (!) that I’ve encountered one of the greats.
“Truly, Taff is great. These stories are so well done, man. I was smiling while reading, getting up and showing my fiancée Allison different passages, texting friends, and eventually writing John himself. And, yes, once again, here I am, falling in love with the genre, and who’s there in the room with me? It’s The End in All Beginnings is who. Sometimes you read a book at a perfectly timed moment in your life and you kinda’ can’t believe that this story, this writer, existed before you knew him. You think, “This coulda’ been the very first scary book I read! The one that got me to fall in love with the genre to begin with!
“And then you realize that, in a way, it is the very first scary book you read because it’s brought you all the way back to the beginning of things, way back when you signed up, when you shivered and smiled and thought, A horror life for me!”
Swoon. Go here to read the entire interview. Josh has tweeted a number of other things in support of my writing and mentioned me numerous times in other interviews, but this one really got to me. And believe me, his opinion of me is fervently echoed by my opinion of him. He’s awesome, and I can’t wait for more of his work to begin to ooze out from behind the door he opened with Bird Box.
I can hint, with a bigger announcement coming soon, that Josh and I will be participating in a project very, very soon. Something very near and dear to my heart. Something involving fellow writers Erik T. Johnson, J. Daniel Stone and Joe Schwartz.