Grady Hendrix (Paperback writer...from hell #2)
Never judge a book by the cover.
While this well worn cliche is, by and large, true, I have often gone against it when buying actual books. I love book cover artwork- good book cover artwork, that is. I find it frustrating that a lot of artwork for book covers falls into an indistinguishable homogeny. Picture the front cover of a crime thriller novel- a mysterious landscape that hints at the location, but it's murky (because murk = atmosphere, right?). I bet you can picture the font for the title. The novel itself might be a brilliant, gripping read, but the covers blur into each other.
Then there are books like My Best Friend's Exorcism.
I spotted this book in the horror section of a local bookshop and it caught my eye, not because I knew anything about Grady Hendrix, but because it looked like the cover of an 80s cult horror VHS- and the title, the title's brilliant. So I bought My Best Friend's Exorcism because I judged the hell out of that cover.
Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. This was my introduction to Grady Hendrix and everything else I've read of his has been just as gripping, funny and tense. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, released this year, was brilliant- that same combination of humour, horror and heart. The story of Patricia's struggles to protect her family and friends from a vampire, drawing on her true crime knowledge from her misfit book club- is one of my favourite reads this year.
My favourite Hendrix though, isn't his fiction. It's the detailed delve into the horror paperbacks of the 70s and 80s Paperbacks from Hell. This book has opened my eyes to a brilliantly bizarre world- one filled with Nazi leprechaun S&M fetishists (with psychic powers) and splatterpunk and haunted houses that stand for allegories of economic fears. It's a wonderful deep dive into paperbacks that include the brilliant, the truly terrible and everything in between.
Valancourt Books have been releasing titles included in Paperbacks from Hell as part of a limited series and they are worth buying for the cover art alone (something Hendrix goes into in his book).
Paperbacks from Hell is where we took the title for this series of articles and it cemented Grady Hendrix's place for me as a horror writer I'm excited about- we could be looking at a situation where I need a Hendrix bookcase to go alongside my King Case...there is a very real danger that the ratio of bookcases to living space will become untenable in my flat.
Other than novels and nonfiction, Grady Hendrix has written screenplays for horror films (Mohawk, Satanic Panic) and a film adaptation of Horrorstör has been announced (which I'm extremely excited about!).
Next up we'll be looking at the novelization of The Wicker Man by Robin Hardy and Anthony Shaffer...