I'm surprised that I haven't talked about Edgar Allan Poe.
I tend to forget Poe because his presence is ingrained in horror fiction. His shadow touches on almost every aspect of the genre, from tales of murder and madness ("The Black Cat") to the Gothic ("The Fall of the House of Usher"), from stories of revenge ("The Cask of Amontillado") to longing for the dead ("Ligeia"). You can read his work and see the seeds that will take root throughout the rest of horror fiction. The last third of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket veers into cosmic horror.
It's hard for me to pick my own favorite, but in keeping with this series, I will spotlight "The Tell-Tale Heart". I encountered it when I was twelve, and its macabre imagery refused to let me go, even as we discussed it in my seventh-grade English class. It's a fever dream of insanity.
Do you have a favorite Edgar Allan Poe story? Let me know in the comments.
Derek Austin Johnson has lived most of his life in the Lone Star State. His work has appeared in The Horror Zine, Rayguns Over Texas!, Horror U.S.A.: Texas, Campfire Macabre, The Dread Machine, and Generation X-ed.
He lives in Central Texas.