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The Bram Stoker Award final ballot was recently announced, reminding me why horror as a genre is so much fun, so in that spirit, I asked our panel these questions:

Q: What first piqued your interest in horror, and why do you enjoy writing in the genre? What direction do you see the genre taking in the future, and who are a few of your favorite horror writers, books, or stories?

Here’s what they had to say…

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John Mantooth is an award-winning author whose short stories have been recognized in numerous year’s best anthologies. His short fiction has been published in Fantasy Magazine, Crime Factory, Thuglit, and the Stoker winning anthology, Haunted Legends (Tor, 2010), among others. His first book, Shoebox Train Wreck, was released in March of 2012 from Chizine Publications. His debut novel, The Year of the Storm, is slated for a June 2013 release from Berkley. He lives in Alabama with his wife, Becky, and two children.

Fitting a Square Book in the Round Hole of Genre

I never really fit in. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t picked on in school, but on the other hand, I wasn’t really a part of the popular crowd either. I was just sort of there. I played basketball in high school, but I also played Dungeons and Dragons, read comic books, and won the creative writing award my senior year. The jocks didn’t want me, and I spent too much time in the gym playing hoops to really be accepted by the comic book crowd. And the females couldn’t have cared less about me (thank God for my wonderful wife who also breaks the mold). I was a poor-to-middling student who ended up being a teacher. I was in a rock and roll band despite not having an ounce of musical ability (and we weren’t as bad as you’re probably thinking). I grew up in the south but I never played a down of football, nor have I fired a gun either at a target or at a deer. I loved to read, but never did my summer reading. In short, I was a contradiction, a person more comfortable outside a circle than in. Yet, for some reason I was surprised when I finished my first novel and realized it was going to be very difficult to sell because it didn’t slide neatly into one category.
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