This scrawny kid seemed to always be reading, and while I have been a reader for as long as I can possibly remember, his nose always seemed to be in stories far outside my usual realm of comfort. In sixth grade, I still found myself on a steady diet of The Three Investigators, but this guy feasted in a different world, one populated by monsters and demons, killers and ghosts.
Oh, sure, I knew about monsters – I was a huge fan of the classic Universal movies like Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon. His tastes, though, ran a bit bloodier.
So when I saw Aaron Saylor flipping through Fangoria, a magazine devoted to the scariest and, well, goriest, movies and entertainment of that era (the mid-1980s), I instantly knew two things: 1) This was one weird little dude; and 2) we needed to be friends.
Almost 30 years later, both are still true.
I’m not sure what immediately caused Aaron and I to bond. We had similar interests, but our tastes ran almost to extreme opposites at that time. Maybe it was our shared love of Star Wars (yet another thing that hasn’t changed), one of the few movies I can recall the younger version of ourselves both enjoying. Other films, though, not so much.
Horror movies (especially Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th) were not permitted in my household, relegated instead to occasional viewings at sleepovers at friends’ houses. Not that I really wanted to watch them – I usually hid my head under pillows whenever a TV commercial for the latest (and not-so greatest) Freddy or Jason movie aired.
Still, the concept of horror and being scared out of your wits intrigued me, and Aaron was (and is) a go-to source for such things. He would walk me through the timelines and mythology of the Friday the 13th movies or explain why he was so excited for the commercials for the sequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
I guess he’s still doing that, to be honest.
Since those days in sixth grade, Aaron and I have been involved in many projects, from a fun, if ill-fated, radio show in Stanton, to dropping out of the University of Kentucky thanks to some fun, if ill-advised, late-night basketball games. A couple of years ago, after the successful launch of Aaron’s debut novel, Sewerville, he contacted me about working together on another writing project. The end result turned out to be Lost Change and Loose Cousins, a collection of short stories and essays that never felt like they belonged in other, larger books.
Aaron has continued writing, and while I have not, I am becoming inspired to get with him again on other projects, particularly after reading his latest book, Adventures in Terror: Mostly the 1980s. It’s a horror novel set in a fictional version of our hometown, and it expands on the world he built in Sewerville. This time, though, instead of being grounded in reality, he’s exploring a darker side.
Sure, it’s fiction, as tales involving banshees, witches and the undead are, but it contains just enough truth to be truly terrifying. These people and places feel real, so when the horrors hit, you care about them enough to be scared right along with them.
I can’t recommend the book enough, to our friends, of course, but especially to anyone else who wants to read some Southern horror. Adventures in Terror is the start of something larger in Aaron’s storytelling, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
I’m quite certain that scrawny kid I knew in sixth grade would be reading these books and loving them.