Children of the Night: For authors of middle grade & YA horror

So you’re writing a scary book for children or teens? Yes! Let’s be friends! This is such a fun genre in kidlit and once a reader gets their first taste of horror they’re often hooked for life (I was!). So let’s help them fall in love with the dark side. Here are some articles, websites and people that I love and think you’ll like, too.

 

Resources right here:
Articles about writing MG and YA horror:
Articles about writing horror in general:
Blogs to follow:
Tips for writing a creepy attic or basement in middle grade or YA
1024 683 Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Alright, I don’t blame you. Attics (AKA lofts) and basements (AKA cellars) are obviously the scariest rooms in any house (except for maybe Regan’s bedroom in The Exorcist) which is why I’m glad I’m a Londoner and don’t have either. But their innate creepiness isn’t enough to sell your setting: you need to make readers see, feel, hear, smell, taste the room, experience the claustrophobia, sense the lurking danger.

Exploring kidlit subgenres: Supernatural horror
1024 683 Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Back in 2020 I wrote a blog post called ‘A guide to middle grade and YA genres and subgenres’ and to this day it remains my most popular blog post of all time! I wrote it because I know sometimes it can be really difficult to navigate literary genres and subgenres in general but especially in the kidlit space, partly because a lot of people tend to think ‘middle grade’ and ‘YA’ are genres in their own right (they’re not – they’re audiences) and partly because the uninitiated often assume children’s books are a monolith.

Want to read more YA horror? Start here! 2022 edition
1024 683 Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Last year I published the blog post ‘Want to read more middle grade horror? Start here! 2021 edition‘ full of recommended kids’ titles in the…

Read like a writer: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy
1024 683 Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

This was a really fun, pacey YA horror with grown-up Point Horror vibes as Kathryn Foxfield pointed out in her quote on the back of the book. What I found particularly interesting about Last One to Die is that it reads as a realistic slasher up right until the last couple of chapters and then – SPOILER ALERT! – it turns a corner into supernatural horror for the big reveal. I say spoiler alert but actually Kat Ellis’ quote on the back, ‘a supernatural horror-fest’, sort of gives away that twist. This is what sets it apart from Point Horror stories, for me, as those are always based in reality.