The Shortlist for the First Annual James Herbert Award for Horror Writing

Pan Macmillan has just announced the shortlist for the first annual James Herbert Award for Horror Writing! Celebrating work “from the darkly fantastical and post-apocalyptic to desolate rural mysteries, gut-wrenching body horrors and modern re-imaginings of classic horror tropes,” the shortlist represents a diverse array of writing from some of our favorite writers.

Here’s the shortlist for the first annual James Herbert Award for Horror Writing:

The award was launched in April 2014 and celebrates the life and career of one of the world’s best and most loved horror writers. The prize is jointly administered by Herbert’s publishers, Pan Macmillan, in partnership with the Serendip Foundation, and the estate of James Herbert. The rest of the judging panel included horror writers Ramsey Campbell and Sarah Pinborough, Total Film editor Rosie Fletcher, Arthur C. Clarke Award Director Tom Hunter, scholar Dr. Tony Venezia, and James Herbert’s daughter, marketer Kerry Herbert. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London this March, and the winning author will receive £2,000 and a specially-designed commemorative statuette.

Tom Hunter, Chair of the JHA judges, commented on his panel’s intentions, saying “the judges have created a truly compelling shortlist for this inaugural year that exemplifies the diversity of modern horror fiction and reminds us that great horror writing should always scare and fascinate in equal measure.” and added, “The first year of a new literature prize is always viewed with one eye on the past of the genre and one on the future and, given this is a horror prize, perhaps a third eye watching behind to check for unspoken things lurking in the dark.”

James Herbert, who died in 2013, was the author of 23 novels, published in 34 languages including Russian and Chinese and which have sold over 70 million copies worldwide. They include The Fog, The Dark, The Survivor, The Magic Cottage, Sepulchre, Haunted, Fluke and Creed, and of course The Rats trilogy, all considered to be classics of the genre. His later bestsellers included Portent, The Ghosts of Sleath, Nobody True and The Secret of Crickley Hall all of which enhanced his considerable reputation as a writer of depth and originality. He began writing his first novel when he was 28. Ten months later he had completed The Rats, conjuring a London overrun by mutant, flesh-eating rodents. On its publication in 1974, the first printing of 100,000 copies sold out in three weeks, firmly establishing him as Britain’s leading writer of horror and one of the country’s greatest popular novelists. (The launch of the JHA coincides with a special 40th anniversary reissue of The Rats, which includes an introduction by Neil Gaiman.) James Herbert was awarded the OBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours list, the same year he was made the Grand Master of Horror by the World of Horror Convention.

Kerry Herbert has great hopes for the award: “As a fitting legacy, I hope that this shortlist presents the quality and huge diversity of the horror genre. But most of all I hope at least one of these books scares you so much that you can’t sleep, you can’t forget, and you can’t wait to tell your friends about it.”


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