This year, I’ve set myself a challenge of discovering good queer horror. I’ve already started, but I thought I might formalise this whole venture with a post.
Even though I’ve gone out of my way to read queer fiction, I’ve struggled to find a lot of horror amongst it, even though that’s one of my favourite genres to read and write. When I look for lists (I love a good recommendation list), there’s often a lot of queer horror from the 80s and 90s, or even the 1890s! (Hello, Dorian Gray.) It’s not surprising as the history of queer horror fiction is a long one. I often read older fiction and have reviewed a few queer classics on here, but I was in my teens during the 90s. It’s not news to me that there was some great queer media happening in that decade. I want a list that tells me something I don’t know. I also want to know about more trans and gender diverse fiction, something that wasn’t so abundant during that period. So, I’m going to make my own list of more recent queer horror.
Who am I?
I’m a queer man (trans, bi) in my early 40s, which for fans of generational labels apparently makes me a young Gen-X. I’m an English and media graduate. I’m based in the UK. I’m white. I work in an indie bookshop. I have a 12 year old son. I have a history of trauma and related mental health problems.
I love reading across a variety of genres, but my favourites are sci-fi, horror, Gothic, literary, historical and classic noir. My favourite horror sub-genres are cosmic, weird and folk horror. I love fiction that experiments and pushes the envelope; I love to be surprised. I’d rather a writer try something new and not fully succeed than play it safe and retread old ground.
I also write weird, queer, Gothic, sci-fi and poetry. Really, all sorts. I write a lot about trauma, whether I mean to or not.
What do I mean by queer?
I’m using queer as an umbrella term in place of the increasingly unwieldy LGBTQIA+ acronym, though I realise not everyone in that acronym identifies as queer. Here, it’s a shorthand for stories with significant LGBTQIA+ characters. It’s also the name of an actual Queer Book Club I joined a few years ago, which started off my reviews of queer fiction on my blog. It’s not an accident that I’ve chosen a more politically charged label, but that doesn’t have to be relevant to this challenge.
What’s the scope of this challenge?
I only do positive reviews on my blog, so in the end what I hope to have is a list of recommended queer horror fiction, linked to more detailed reviews, which I’ll write as I go. I’ll include horror hybrids, Gothic and other dark fiction if I feel it’s of interest to horror fans. I’ll focus on books from the last 10 years, because I’m hoping this will be a new resource, not a rehash.
I’m going to focus on long-form fiction – novels and novellas. There’s some great short fiction out there, but there’s so much, and I don’t think I can do justice to it all. There are also practical and financial limits to how much short fiction I can realistically access, so it seems fairer to focus on longer stuff. I read and review both adult and YA. I’ll probably include some graphic novels.
I’ll end up reading a bunch of fiction that either I don’t like or I don’t think is horror and that won’t be included. (Though I might review the non-horror anyway.) This list will be subjective. It will be a product of my tastes and biases. I’ll comment more on things closer to my own experience (e.g. being queer, some types of mental health experience) and less on things I don’t have personal experience of (e.g. representation of race), but I’ll try to keep in mind all types of diversity in what I choose to read. I’ll include books I feel broadly positive about, even if there are elements that make me uncomfortable, not least because darker fiction is inherently an uncomfortable experience, but if I spend a whole book cringing my arse off about the queer representation or some other aspect, it’s not on the list.
I’d welcome recommendations, so please point me in the direction of queer horror you’ve enjoyed from 2010-2020. Obviously, I’ve met a few writers whilst working on my own writing. In the past, I’ve reviewed some of their books, but I won’t include any books on the list that are written by writers I know, because I don’t want there to be a conflict of interest or for this to become a promo exercise. This is a list made by a fan of horror fiction for readers of horror fiction.
I’ll be buying the books, mostly paper, some ebooks, myself with the help of my trusty staff discount.
I hope you’ll join me for the ride. I’ll start an index for this challenge on the Horror/Gothic tab on this blog (there’s also an index of all my queer book reviews under the Reviews Index tab). When I’ve got a good size list, I’ll put it all together in an overview post.