122 Rules by Deek Rhew

Friday, February 24, 2017

Teri Polen Guest Post - Does Anyone Still Read Horror?

I'm fortunate to have author, Teri Polen grace my blog today. She's a YA horror author from Bowling Green, KY, who's just released her debut novel, Sarah.

Take it away, Teri!

“So, the book you’re writing, what’s it about? Families and their lives?”

“No, it’s a young adult horror novel.”

This is the question I was asked a few years ago. At my response, the look on the person’s face was one of, well, horror. It may even have been intermingled with a touch of pity, because no one reads horror. Everyone knows that.

Or do they? If you haven’t heard of Stephen King, I’d have to question where you’ve lived for the past few decades – a life of solitude on top of a mountain? A different planet?

Someplace with, God forbid, no Wi-Fi? The man writes books that are consistently best sellers (which are then tragically ruined when adapted for movies, but that’s another story for another
time), and the majority of them are horror novels. King’s son, Joe Hill, has made a name for
himself in the horror genre as well. Anne Rice, Jonathan Maberry, and relative newcomer, Nick
Cutter – all successful horror writers. I grew up reading King and Rice, practically devouring
their books upon release. To this day, I can remember reading my first ‘age appropriate’ horror
book in the third grade.

So when I decided to write a book, horror was a natural fit for me. But the voice in my
head was a seventeen-year- old male, making the category young adult. Given, YA horror novels
aren’t as plentiful as YA fantasy, romance, contemporary, or even dystopian – but they do exist,
and there are some excellent ones out there. Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of
Nightmares are among my favorites, with a movie in the works for Anna Dressed in Blood.
Blake’s newest book, Three Dark Crowns, is a dark fantasy skirting the fringes of horror. Rin
Chupeco and her Girl From the Well series is exceptionally chilling. In addition to writing adult
horror novels, Jonathan Maberry is also the author of the award winning YA horror series, Rot
and Ruin. My son plowed through those books at a rate that had me beaming with pride, and has
re-read the series through a couple more times. I’ve read the first three and they’re absolutely
deserving of those awards.

So imagine my disappointment when, after entering the query trenches for Sarah, my YA
horror novel, I discovered agents representing that genre are few and far between. I’ve read
articles advising writers to research the current trends in the industry and start from there (advice
I’d never recommend). Fantasy, contemporary, and romance are all big sellers – fantasy is in my
comfort zone, but contemporary and romance are foreign territories; however, none of that
mattered, because the book of my heart was horror. For me, once the idea for a story forms
somewhere in my brain, the characters soon follow, and they give me no peace until their story is

A popular, traditionally published author offers a query critique on her website and I sent
mine, hoping to receive some helpful suggestions. She said my query was well-written, but YA
horror is a hard sell – something that had become very evident. So I expanded my search to
include independent publishers and found them to be more receptive to the horror genre.
Strangely enough, my current publisher, Black Rose Writing, found me through Discovery on
Authors.me, and offered a contract. Signing with an independent publisher has been a good fit
for me and BRW is wonderful and accommodating - in fact, I just signed a contract for my
second book with Black Rose, a YA sci-fi/fantasy.

Yes, people still read - and watch - horror. Low budget movies such as Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Sinister, Insidious, and The Conjuring brought in over one billion dollars at
the box office and The Walking Dead and American Horror Story continue to be two of the
most-watched series on television. Maybe horror is a smaller slice of the pie chart, but the
demand exists – you just have to find your people.

Seventeen-year-old horror fan Cain Shannon thought helping a ghost find her killers would be the supernatural adventure of a lifetime. Now, he just hopes to survive long enough to protect his family and friends from her.
Sarah by Teri Polen
A bet between friends goes horribly wrong, resulting in Sarah's death. When she returns to seek justice against those responsible, Cain agrees to help her. But when he discovers Sarah has been hijacking his body, he realizes she wants retribution instead of justice.

Terrified of what could have happened when he wasn't in control, Cain commands Sarah to leave his house - but exorcising her isn't that easy. She retaliates against her murderers in bloody, horrific ways, each death making her stronger, then sets her sights on Cain. With the help of friends, Cain fights to save himself and his loved ones and searches for a way to stop Sarah before she kills again. 

Available now from:

About the Author
Teri Polen - Author of Sarah

Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.  The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium.  She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat.  
Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, is her first novel.

Visit her on:



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Thanks so much for having me today, Deek!

    1. My pleasure, Teri! Thanks for joining us today and good luck with Sarah!

  3. I didn't know anyone had stopped reading horror, Teri. :D
    Wishing you continued success with Sarah. Mega hugs!

    1. Not the serious readers, anyway - thanks, Teagan!

  4. Super , Teri. I liked that you ignore advice. (Why am I not surprised?)

  5. Glad you persevered with Sarah, Teri. It's a great book with intriguing characters. I sometimes have issues finding an audience for my own books (because they cross genres) but audiences do exist. As for horror--the YA end might be a harder sell, but you've got fans---and more waiting in the wings :)

  6. You're good for my ego, Mae! It's true about being persistent and finding your audience - sometimes it takes a while, but it's worth it in the end.