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Posted by vigorous puppy

Talking Scars: Creating the Literature of Fear and Pain

Jack Ketchum, photograpged by Steve Thorton

New Exclusive Cult Master Class

Note: Class is now officially underway. Congrats to all our students!

He takes us to the places we fear and shows us real-life monsters, sometimes through a child’s eyes.  You don’t have to cue the campy music.  You don’t have to invoke the supernatural.  You will be scared, but exhilarated, repulsed and attracted at the same time.  As Hannah Arendt told us in a book from 1963 about those who abetted the Nazi regime, the surprising thing about evil is “the banality evil.”  When you read a Jack Ketchum novel, you realize that the evil thing you fear could be living right next door, doing laundry in a faded sundress or supplying discipline to somebody’s children.  And the way the worst of it creeps up on you, seductively, before going farther than you could have imagined—you don’t sense exaggeration when Stephen King says that Jack is the writer who scares even him.  But it runs deeper than fright, deeper than scare tactics. 

What I’ve noticed in books like The Girl Next Door is that Jack consistently challenges the reader to confront and consider.  He entertains, but he also shows us something terrifying set amid everyday life.  Ultimately, you’re left with a human riddle to think about, instead of just a frenzied run to your next distraction.  Jack’s characters and the often horrifying situations they face stay with us, somehow, in the best possible way.  There’s a redemptive finish, even if it only completes itself inside of you.

This is why we’ve been after him, of course.  That chill in his own spine, that scary thing that went looking for the creator of so many scary things—it was just us.  “Trick or Treat.  The Cult has come for you, Jack.  We want you to teach us everything that you know.” 

After the second approach, Jack said ‘Yes.’  (Keep reading to grab an exclusive seat.)

Of course, there’s a bit more to the story, like the several months it took to line this up with a decent span of downtime or even half-time in his schedule:  a quiet moment to be found; a month when he isn’t due on set with the latest film adaptation of his work.

But now we’ve got him.  [Cue evil laughter here…]

For the month of November, the Master of Horror and Suspense, Jack Ketchum, is here for you at The Cult.  He will be spilling the magic beans in one of our most exciting intensives yet:

Talking Scars: Creating the Literature of Fear and Pain


What We Will Cover

  • Writing from the Wound
  • The Abyss that's Looking Back
  • “Method Acting” for Horror Writers
  • Choosing a theme for a horror or suspense story & the versatility of the form
  • Horror and Suspense as Cautionary Tales
  • Creating Suspense - sentence-level techniques
  • The bookstore browser test for your opening paragraph
  • Communicating your deeper meaning through genre fiction
  • Important tips for a good writer turning pro

The Details

Talking Scars: Jack Ketchum Cult Exclusive Master Class
  Dates: November 9th – December 9th
  Hard Limit: 20 Students Only


  Class is now officially underway. Congrats to all our students!