The love craft

Dayton scribes twist reality in new books

By Tim Walker

Photo: “Eat the Night” by West Milton’s Tim Waggoner, coming out this November; “A Natural History of Hell” by Jeffrey Ford; and “Squirm With Me,” the newest novel from Andersen Prunty

It happens every year at this time—the days get shorter and nights grow cooler, leaves begin to fall, and our thoughts drift toward the nightside: to haunted houses, slasher films, and horror novels. Writers like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Clive Barker are internationally famous for books that explore the darker side of human existence, and deservedly so. But there are many other writers who spend their time exploring the dark nooks and crannies of modern life and the human condition, and some of those writers live in or near our backyards.

Tim Waggoner

Tim Waggoner grew up in West Milton and has taught English composition and creative writing at Sinclair Community College for 18 years. At 52, he is also the author of 30 novels and more than 100 published short stories. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by it,” Waggoner says when asked about his love for the horror field. “I used to watch Shock Theatre, which in this area, was like the weekend horror show. I watched Dr. Creep from his very first appearance—I was pretty young.” Waggoner’s upcoming book “Eat the Night” (available in November) tells a story Dr. Creep probably would have appreciated: Mark Maegarr, a long-dead former cult leader and rock star, returns from beyond the grave to fulfill an apocalyptic mission.

“I think all fiction stimulates people’s imaginations in different ways,” Waggoner continues. “And, I think horror fiction stimulates it because it’s about what’s in the shadows. ‘What’s there, what’s behind me?’ And, that’s a normal experience people have in life. It’s probably something that has followed us from back when we all lived out in nature, when if you heard a noise behind you, it could be bad because you didn’t know what it was. It still gives you that visceral thrill, I think.” When asked if any writers inspire him, Waggoner says, “There are so many. But right now it would be Laird Barron,” mentioning the brilliant award-winning author of “Occultation” and the recent collection “Swift to Chase.”

Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford was born in New York but now lives and works in the area, and his recent collection of stories, “A Natural History of Hell,” has been praised by reviewers as one of the outstanding story collections of 2016. John Picacio of SF Signal once wrote, “I’ve always said that Jeff Ford’s not just one of the best genre writers, but one of the best American fiction writers, period.” and Ford, who teaches at Ohio Wesleyan University and has published more than 130 short stories and eight novels, has won a number of prestigious awards for his fiction: multiple World Fantasy Awards, Shirley Jackson Awards, and an Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

When asked about A Natural History of Hell, Ford says, “It’s my fifth collection, and it’s stories that I’ve written over the last few years. They all have a thread running through them. They’re all not completely dark. There’s humor in them, there’s irony, and so forth. But they have a thread of evil. The devil shows up a couple of times, and they have that aspect. I’ll say this in a joking way—they’re about the hell of living, if you know what I mean.”

Jeffrey Ford cites works by magic realists Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Italo Calvino as inspirational, books he will “continuously go back to.” “I like horror,” he continues, “but I also write mystery stuff, I write fantastic fiction, sometimes I blend genres together. It would be untrue to say I’m a ‘horror writer,’ although I do write horror stories. I like being able to write what I want to write.”

Andersen Prunty

Much like Ford, Andersen Prunty’s writing spans several genres and attracts readers of all kinds. As the author of more than 20 published books since his first, “The Overwhelming Urge,” appeared in 2008, Prunty, a Dayton-area native who graduated from Valley View High School, has made a name for himself in the fields of horror and bizarro fiction. His books “Sunruined,” “Pray You Die Alone,” “Creep House,” and “Hi, I’m a Social Disease,” contain stories which are surreal, frightening, and mind-blowing—he cites Charles Bukowski and the beat writers as major influences.

Prunty describes his most recent novel, “Squirm With Me,” as “a fairly straightforward first-person narrative.” “It’s not really horror at all,” he says. “Other than the fact that the main characters are trying to attend a horror convention. The narrator is a writer who’s being trolled by this guy who has kind of a dyslexic name, Dargonslayer. He finds out that this guy is going to be at this convention, and so his twin brother, who has just returned to town, wrangles him to go to the convention and seek vengeance against this internet troll.”

Whether your taste runs toward realistic horrors, hellish tales, or reanimated cult leaders, scary books by local writers are all available online or through local book retailers like Books & Co. in Kettering or Dark Star Books in Yellow Springs – and just in time for Halloween, too.

For more information on Tim Waggoner, please visit For more on Jeffrey Ford, please visit For more on Andersen Prunty, please visit

Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz and black t-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writerTim Walker at

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at

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