Brain Matter

Make This the Summer of Love ... of Books, That Is!

Summer is fast approaching and judging from what I see on social media, a lot of writers are planning their schedules out already for conferences. So I’d just like to say that while you’re planning, or if you’re getting ready to plan, please don’t forget the children.

And no, I don’t mean to sound like Sally Struthers asking for nickels!

I’m talking about libraries and schools. Summer is the time of year when reading can get overlooked. Kids and parents often think that reading is just for the school year. And perhaps as writers, we sometimes think the same way. We go from con to con, promoting our books to the horror fans and the book collectors and the adults who already read year-round. But we forget about the readers of tomorrow.

Please, don’t.

Most schools and libraries have summer reading programs for kids and teens. Some even have writing programs. Find out about them. Offer to do a presentation or be a guest editor or instructor. Kids from 12 to 17 are the best possible audience you can find, because they will read voraciously once they get hooked on something and they’ll tell all their friends. You’ll be tapping into the best marketing tool in existence and at the same time setting up fans for years to come.

One of my local libraries is running a project where teens from all over the county submitted short works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. A group of eight librarians chose the best 40 pieces, and then they asked three local writers (including me!) to be guest editors. I was amazed at the 15 pieces I read. They ranged from science fiction to personal memoirs, and the imaginations of these kids had no boundaries. Some of the poetry was good enough to be published in professional markets.

Now, the 40 winning entries have been compiled into a book that the library is publishing and there will be a book launch in May. I’ll be there, as I’ve written a foreword to the book and will be one of the speakers at the event. It’s a great way to get kids interested not only in reading but writing.

In June, I’ll be stumping for horror at the American Library Assn.’s annual meeting. Due in part to our recent partnership with their Authors for Libraries program, the ALA folks have arranged a special horror panel and I’ll be on that with Peter Salomon and some writers from outside the HWA. Once again, this is all about getting word of the HWA’s literacy and library programs out to librarians and letting them know there are a lot of books available to the YA crowd besides what they see from the big New York houses. Most librarians I talk to tell me that once kids start reading horror, they go through everything the library has in a matter of months, and then there’s a waiting list for anything new that comes out. So they are chomping at the bit for new books and new authors.

In August, I’ll be back at a local library to give one of my more standard presentations about local horror. Growing up and living in the lower Hudson Valley of NY, home of Washington Irving, the UFO capital of the East Coast, and various other spooks and boogems, I find there’s never a lack of material to discuss with the kids, and they’ve always got a million questions. Plus I’ll be guesting at a teen writing event to talk about the process of writing stories and books.

So how about you? Can you spare some time to mold the reading and writing habits of the next generation? Everyone has a library nearby. Many of them even pay a small stipend for writers to come in and speak.

Why not make this the Summer of Love ... of reading?

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Recommended Reads:

Nothing this month I can really talk about. It’s all been beta reading for my group (look for new stories by Rena Mason, Erinn Kemper, and James Chambers in the near future!) and my new HWA mentee.

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Coming this summer:

A new short story, “The Lazarus Effect,” in the big double issue (#74/#75) of Cemetery Dance magazine, which will also have new fiction by Joe Hill, Erinn Kemper, and Josh Malerman. This is a huge trade paperback special edition, so you won’t want to miss it!

Still hanging around:

The Cure, my Bram Stoker Award®-nominated paranormal thriller about a veterinarian with the power to cure—or kill—by laying hands.

"Faherty’s The Cure is a terrifically written novel. I think of it as a wild elevator ride where every floor is a new level within the story, and when the door opens on some of those levels, I wanted to peek my head out of the door, have a quick look, shut it, and get the hell away from there. The Cure takes you in directions that are unexpected and masterfully realized from Faherty’s imagination. It’s a wild read with many unexpected turns. Faherty’s got a flair for this stuff." – Matt Molgaard, Horror Novel Reviews.com

And if you visit my Amazon page you'll see that several of my old, out-of-print titles are back in paperback again, including Carnival of Fear, He Waits, and The Cold Spot.