michael puskas

Research for Horror Writing

A pivotal moment near the beginning of my game-in-construction involves a group of kids telling each-other scary stories around a campfire. I have rarely been a fan of horror books and movies, so I have decided to undergo an exploration phase before proceeding with writing and development.


Through a reading of Stephen King’s “Danse macabre” and some additional googling, I have compiled a list of short stories, movies, and novels that I will experience and analyze before considering myself ready to write these campfire stories. The only caveat to this is that I may skip reading the novels to save time, if I feel thoroughly prepared.


My goal is to start with my core thoughts on what the game is about, and to re-evaluate and refine them as I broaden my experience with the genre. By the end, I should have a defined theme, tone, story, and writing style.


Below is the list — first short stories (most important since they bear the closest resemblance to my own desired work), then movies (important for discovering a visual style), then novels (which I may or may not get to, time depending.)

Following this list, I will note a few additional aids: technical guides, essays, etc.


Short Stories

  • M.R. James | The Ash-Tree
  • H.P. Lovecraft | The Outsiders
  • W. W. Jacobs | The Monkey’s Paw
  • (Compilation) Peter Straub | American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny (Two volumes, “From Poe to the Pulps” / “From the 1940’s to Now”)
    • Charles Brockden Brown | Somnambulism: A Fragment
      Washington Irving | The Adventure of the German Student
      Edgar Allan Poe | Berenice
      Nathaniel Hawthorne | Young Goodman Brown
      Herman Melville | The Tartarus of Maids
      Fitz-James O’Brien | What Was It?
      Bret Harte | The Legend of Monte del Diablo
      Harriet Prescott Spofford | The Moonstone Mass
      W. C. Morrow | His Unconquerable Enemy
      Sarah Orne Jewett | In Dark New England Days
      Charlotte Perkins Gilman | The Yellow Wall Paper
      Stephen Crane | The Black Dog
      Kate Chopin | Ma’ame Pélagie
      John Kendrick Bangs | Thurlow’s Christmas Story
      Robert W. Chambers | The Repairer of Reputations
      Ralph Adams Cram | The Dead Valley
      Madeline Yale Wynne | The Little Room
      Gertrude Atherton | The Striding Place
      Emma Francis Dawson | An Itinerant House
      Mary Wilkins Freeman | Luella Miller
      Frank Norris | Grettir at Thorhall-stead
      Lafcadio Hearn | Yuki-Onna
      F. Marion Crawford | For the Blood Is the Life
      Ambrose Bierce | The Moonlit Road
      Edward Lucas White | Lukundoo
      Olivia Howard Dunbar | The Shell of Sense
      Henry James | The Jolly Corner
      Alice Brown | Golden Baby
      Edith Wharton | Afterward
      Willa Cather | Consequences
      Ellen Glasgow | The Shadowy Third
      Julian Hawthorne | Absolute Evil
      Francis Stevens | Unseen—Unfeared
      F. Scott Fitzgerald | The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
      Seabury Quinn | The Curse of Everard Maundy
      Stephen Vincent Benét | The King of the Cats
      David H. Keller | The Jelly-Fish
      Conrad Aiken | Mr. Arcularis
      Robert E. Howard | The Black Stone
      Henry S. Whitehead | Passing of a God
      August Derleth | The Panelled Room
      H. P. Lovecraft | The Thing on the Doorstep
      Clark Ashton Smith | Genius Loci
      Robert Bloch | The Cloak
      John Collier | Evening Primrose
      Fritz Leiber | Smoke Ghost
      Tennessee Williams | The Mysteries of the Joy Rio
      Jane Rice | The Refugee
      Anthony Boucher | Mr. Lupescu
      Truman Capote | Miriam
      Jack Snow | Midnight
      John Cheever | Torch Song
      Shirley Jackson | The Daemon Lover
      Paul Bowles | The Circular Valley
      Jack Finney | I’m Scared
      Vladimir Nabokov | The Vane Sisters
      Ray Bradbury | The April Witch
      Charles Beaumont | Black Country
      Jerome Bixby | Trace
      Davis Grubb | Where the Woodbine Twineth
      Donald Wandrei | Nightmare
      Harlan Ellison | I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
      Richard Matheson | Prey
      T.E.D. Klein | The Events at Poroth Farm
      Isaac Bashevis Singer | Hanka
      Fred Chappell | Linnaeus Forgets
      John Crowley | Novelty
      Jonathan Carroll | Mr Fiddlehead
      Joyce Carol Oates | Family
      Thomas Ligotti | The Last Feast of Harlequin
      Peter Straub | A Short Guide to the City
      Jeff VanderMeer | The General Who Is Dead
      Stephen King | That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French
      George Saunders | Sea Oak
      Caitlín Kiernan | The Long Hall on the Top Floor
      Thomas Tessier | Nocturne
      Michael Chabon | The God of Dark Laughter
      Joe Hill | Pop Art
      Poppy Z. Brite | Pansu
      Steven Millhauser | Dangerous Laughter
      M. Rickert | The Chambered Fruit
      Brian Evenson | The Wavering Knife
      Kelly Link | Stone Animals
      Tim Powers | Pat Moore
      Gene Wolfe | The Little Stranger
      Benjamin Percy | Dial Tone
  • Ramsey Campbell | The Companion
  • (Compilation) Harlan Ellison | Strange Wine

    • “Introduction: Revealed at Last! What Killed the Dinosaurs! And You Don’t Look So Terrific Yourself”
    • “Croatoan”
    • “Working With the Little People”
    • “Killing Bernstein”
    • “Mom”
    • “In Fear of K”
    • “Hitler Painted Roses”
    • “The Wine Has Been Left Open Too Long and the Memory Has Gone Flat”
    • “From A to Z, in the Chocolate Alphabet”
    • “Lonely Women are the Vessels of Time”
    • “Emissary from Hamelin”
    • “The New York Review of Bird”
    • “Seeing”
    • “The Boulevard of Broken Dreams”
    • “Strange Wine”
    • “The Diagnosis of Dr. D’arqueAngel”



  • Alien
  • The Ring
  • The Exorcist
  • The Shining
  • Session 9
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • Mimic
  • Tarantula
  • The Incredible Shrinking Man
  • Kingdom of the Spiders
  • The Haunting
  • The Brood


Novels and Novellas

  • Peter Straub | Ghost Story
  • Shirley Jackson | The Haunting of Hill House
  • Anne Rivers Siddons | The House Next Door
  • Peter Clines | 14
  • Robert Louis Stevenson | Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • Richard Matheson | The Shrinking Man
  • Ramsey Campbell | The Parasite
  • Ramsey Campbell | The Doll Who Ate His Mother
  • Henry James | The Turn of the Screw
  • Arthur Machen | The Great God Pan
  • H.P. Lovecraft | At the Mountains of Madness
  • Ray Bradbury | Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • Friz Leiber | Our Lady of Darkness
  • Richard Matheson | I Am Legend
  • Caitlin R. Kiernan | The Red Tree



  • Stephen King | Danse Macabre
  • Stephen King | On Writing
  • H.P. Lovecraft | Supernatural Horror in Literature
  • E.B. White, William Strunk Jr. | The Elements of Style

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