Amherst Welcomes Horror Writer Peter Straub

On Thursday, July 21, 2011 Great Books Summer Program was honored to welcome Peter Straub, renowned horror fiction writer, as a guest lecturer at its Amherst campus.  Peter Straub, author of seventeen novels, two books of poetry and two short story collections and editor of the Library of America’s edition of H. P. Lovecraft’s Tales, spoke to the Great Books students about the craft of writing.

Mr. Straub shared his own story about his road to publication.  He started as most writers do, as a good reader.  He found his niche in the genre of science fiction and discovered the greater world of fiction from there.  From an early age he wanted to be a writer.  For a brief period of time, he shifted his plans to include an English professorship after he had become a bit of an, in his own words, “high-minded, intellectual snob”.  He worked for a short time as an English teacher at an all-boys school, the only “real” job he had ever held.  In a summer, he wrote a novel, sent it to a publisher and had his work accepted.  From then on, Mr. Straub has had “the good fortune to get to write fiction for a living”.

The evening concluded with questions posed by the Great Books students.  With questions ranging from which authors influence his work to his opinion on whether Hollywood is helping or hurting the horror genre, Mr. Straub responded with zeal and immense knowledge.  He left the audience with lasting advice to prospective writers, to first “read as much fiction as you can” and second, that “you have to write a lot of bad stuff first”.

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