Another thing that was suggested for my countdown was that I should produce a list of my favorite horror stories and novels. Somehow this task was too dauntingly open-ended for me at the moment, but I came up with an alternative. I made a list of fifteen authors of the weird and supernatural whose short stories have inspired me over the years, and a favorite story by each.
This list is by no means exhaustive. I could double it without difficulty. Probably triple it. Probably more. I picked fifteen because it seemed a manageable number and because it’s always the number of those “pick fifteen” memes that go around Facebook. I listed the first fifteen authors who came to mind. There are lots of notable exceptions that didn’t make the list for an assortment of reasons; sometimes because I couldn’t pick a story, sometimes because I just didn’t think of them before I’d gotten to fifteen. (There is, just as a for instance, a conspicuous and unfortunate lack of Fritz Leiber, which is really uncalled-for.)
The stories I picked are not necessarily representative of stories by these authors. Nor are they necessarily my very favorite story by that author. They are one of my favorie stories and, again, usually the first one that came to mind.
Here they are, in no particular order:
Mike Mignola — “The Witch and Her Soul”*
Robert Westall — “The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral”**
H.P. Lovecraft — “The Shunned House”
Robert E. Howard — “The Rattle of Bones”
Manly Wade Wellman — “Up Under the Roof”
William Hope Hodgson — “The Voice in the Night”
M.R. James — “Count Magnus”
Brian Lumley — “Recognition”
Clive Barker — “In the Hills, the Cities”
Holly Black — “The Poison Eaters”
M.T. Anderson — “Watch & Wake”
William Browning Spencer — “The Tenth Muse”
Norman Partridge — “Return of the Shroud”
Terry Dowling — “One Thing About the Night”
Sarah Monette — “The Venebratti Necklace”
*This one’s cheating a bit, since it’s a comic book story, but not including Mike Mignola on any list like this would be unthinkable for me. Also, picking a favorite of his stories is a mug’s game, and this could be replaced by virtually any of his other tales. “The Whittier Legacy” is another recent favorite that’s available to read for free online.
**Another cheat. This one’s a novella, and I could have easily picked any number of actual short stories by Westall that are also wonderful, but I wanted to pick this one, so there.