The Writing Dead: Talking Terror with TV’s Top Horror Writers by Thomas Fahy. Book review

The Writing Dead: Talking Terror with TV’s Top Horror Writers by Thomas Fahy, University Press of Mississippi, h/c, $50.00, Publication date, March 3rd, 2015

Reviewed by Dave Brzeski

I don’t review all that many non-fiction books. The reason I chose this one when it was offered on the Netgalley website is plain. It’s published by a university press and it’s the only way I was ever going to be able to afford to read it.

It’s exactly what it says on the cover. A series of interviews with people involved in writing horror series for TV. They include some of television’s biggest names—Carlton Cuse (Lost and Bates Motel), Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies), David Greenwalt (Angel and Grimm), Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead, The Terminator series, Aliens, and The Abyss), Jane Espenson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica), Brian McGreevy (Hemlock Grove), Alexander Woo (True Blood), James Wong (The X-Files, Millennium, American Horror Story, and Final Destination), Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files and Millennium), Richard Hatem (Supernatural, The Dead Zone, and The Mothman Prophecies), Scott Buck (Dexter), Anna Fricke (Being Human), and Jim Dunn (Haven).

It’s obvious from the get-go that it’s centred firmly on US TV, so you get the writer of the American version of ‘Being Human’, rather than the original British version. There’s a gaping hole where ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Ghostwatch’ author, Stephen Volk should be. Also the time issues involved in producing such a book preclude the inclusion of the writers of ‘Penny Dreadful’, ‘The Strain’, or ‘True Detective’ being included.

It’s still a very interesting read, and it’s a huge shame that the hefty price tag will keep it out of the hands of many potential readers. As one would expect, the various interviewees have differing opinions on what works, and what doesn’t, but it’s actually quite surprising how often they do agree.

I very much enjoyed reading the book, but I have to be honest and admit that it wouldn’t have been worth the price tag, had I bought a hard copy. It is, however, relatively cheap compared to many such publications. I suspect there will eventually be a Kindle edition, but in my experience of university press books, it probably won’t be a great deal cheaper than the hardcover.