Dark Delicacies is located in Burbank, California. Run by Del and Sue Howison, this popular horror bookstore has been featured on the Sci-Fi Channel, the New York Times, Daily News, Fangoria, and Bookcase magazines. Besides books, the store sells gifts, DVDs, signed first editions, and scary novelties for the horror enthusiast. Here to talk about the store and the horror market in general is Del Howison.
Tell us a bit about Dark Delicacies, Del. What compelled you to open a horror bookstore?
Actually it was the fact that I couldn't find anything to decorate my house with. My wife, Sue, and I love horror and we wanted some things to decorate our house with to reflect our taste. This was 1993 and '94. Nothin'. so we set out on a mission to find all the horror things we could and put them in one spot. Thus the genesis of Dark Delicacies.
Do you think the horror book market is declining, thriving, or at a plateau?
It is always fluctuating. Sometimes up and sometimes down. What actually happens is that horror becomes popular because of some good writing so every publishing company in town releases horror – good, bad and indifferent. Then folks get tired of reading bad horror and the market drops. Then good horror comes back and the cycle starts all over again. It is also affected by current events. Whenever there is a war or a "real" horror the populace can't control, horror becomes popular because you can always close a book, change a channel or walk out of a movie. It makes us feel like we have some control again when events feel out-of-control. Note how zombie stuff became popular after 9/11. We'd just seen all those images of ash covered people coming from the rubble on TV.
What type of horror seems to be most popular with your customers?
Like I said, it changes with the times. Right now zombies are hot but that may change with the film Twilight.
Do you stock books published by small presses, or mostly by the large publishing houses?
Both. I think it is important to get some new voices out there, which is what small press specializes in. However, I get really tired of and don't carry the $40 novella of somebody unknown just because the small press thinks it is cool. Nobody is going to discover a new author by paying $40 for a 90 page book. If you want to discover new writers read the current anthologies and then see if the writers you liked have novels out there.
How would you compare horror books produced by the large publishers as opposed to those by the small presses?
No differently. Good writing is good writing. Just because something has money behind it and is popular doesn't make it bad any more than some book from a small artsy press makes it worth reading. Horror thrives by all of these places producing – and the cream rising to the top.
Any tips for authors who are signing their horror books this Halloween?
Nope. If you are signing your book this year congrats because that means you've been published. That probably puts you in the top five or ten percent of writers.
You probably have read a ton of horror books. What is the scariest book you've ever read?
Without a doubt – Ghost Story by Peter Straub.
Who, in your opinion, are the horror fiction masters of the 20th century?
Bloch, Bradbury, Matheson, Straub etc. The 21st Century is just figuring it out.
Do you have any special activities going on at your store this Halloween?
It's my wedding anniversary. I'm going to be naked someplace in a very, very dark room.
Thanks for this interview, Del!