The YA author has curated a selection of horror stories entitled Slasher Girls and Monster Boys (Dial), which is being released this week. The book features stories by Leigh Bardugo, Nova Ren Suma, Carrie Ryan, Marie Lu, Jay Kristoff, and many other contemporary YA authors. Tucholke talked with PW about the new anthology, what inspired it, and why horror appeals to teens.
How did you select the stories that you included?
I knew I wanted to highlight the contributions of women to YA horror – women are often underrepresented in this genre. I asked three female authors to contribute originally, and then we branched out from there and brought in other writers, including some brilliant male authors as well.
Do you see a resurgence in horror now (the copy on the book mentions The Walking Dead and American Horror Story) or do you see something new or different in contemporary horror stories?
I think the modern focus of suspense/horror is shifting away from screaming women running away from men, and more to girls-who-survive. I saw this in American Horror Story, the Coven season. I saw it in Veronica Mars. I see it in Penny Dreadful and Game of Thrones.
What underlying theme or themes did you see emerge from the anthology?
A lot of the stories reference classic horror films such as Psycho and The Birds – my story “The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh” is a nod to Carrie and I Know What You Did Last Summer – though Stefan Bachmann’s story was inspired by the 1970s Upstairs, Downstairs, for example, and Leigh Bardugo’s story was influenced by a Nirvana song. We had a wide variety of inspirations, but the underlying themes are still universal and provoking and timeless – revenge, terror, the power of love, the fear of death, an individual’s capacity for self-preservation when cornered.…
You dedicate the book to “everyone who read Stephen King when they were way too young.” What do you think draws teens to horror?
The allure of the forbidden, for starters. Good horror stories spread like wildfire in my high school. I remember when Flowers in the Attic swept through – I knew my mother wouldn’t want me to read it so I lied and told her it was about children who liked to garden.
But being a teenager is its own horror story, no? It’s high emotion and high adrenaline. It seems fitting that teens are drawn to button-pushing stories, especially ones with a resilient protagonist who goes through a harrowing experience and comes out triumphant in the end.
Slasher Girls and Monster Boys. Selected by April Genevieve Tucholke. Dial, $17.99 Aug. ISBN 978-1-101-91745-9.