This list was almost impossible to define, a top 20 would have been hard enough, but I’ll choose those stories that really made me want to write horror and also influenced me imaginatively, and stylistically.
The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver Onions
Physical, mental, emotional and psychic collapses are subjects I am very interested in bringing to characters in my horror, and this story features the one that inspired me the most for a long time.
Apartment 16 is also influenced by this great and ahead-of-its-time story.
Wailing Well by M. R. James
I think that each time I write a scene featuring the supernatural, M. R. James is probably sub-consciously looking over my shoulder. From childhood, this writer has had the biggest influence on me – he built the first wheel on my wagon. The ghosts in this story really got to me and stayed with me. If nothing else, I’d like to think M. R. James may have had, at least, a grudging respect for my own meddling with ghosts.
Into The Wood, by Robert Aickman
There are few of this writer’s stories that I don’t love, but this is my current favourite.
Seaton's Aunt by Walter de La Mare
Conjuring the sense of pervasive evil and strangeness in this story, within an old house, is something I constantly endeavour to do.
The Willows by Algernon Blackwood
Incredible elemental, wilderness story that I quoted at the beginning of
The Ritual as an homage to one of my favourite writers. He turned the torch on for me and created a desire to write about the supernatural outdoors.
Winner of the August Derleth award,
Last Days is a chilling and terrifying novel from master of horror, Adam Nevill.
The Temple of the Last Days. The brutal cult with a history of murder, sex and occult dealings destroyed itself during one night of ritualistic violence decades ago. Or so they thought . . .
Kyle Freeman is an indie film-maker with no money and few options, so when he lands a commission to make a documentary about The Temple of the Last Days he jumps at the chance. Little does he know that his investigation into the cult's bloody history will lead him into the darkest places he's ever been.
As they travel from the London and France to Arizona tracing the path of the cult, uncanny events, out-of-body experiences, ghastly artefacts and visits by the merciless 'old friends' plague Kyle and his one-man crew. They soon discover the power of the cult's terrible legacy, and that it may be too late for them to escape . . .