Call for Book Chapters: "No More Haunted Dolls: Horror Fiction that Transcends the Tropes"

Vernon Press invites book chapter proposals to be included in a forthcoming scholarly volume on the critical analysis of horror fiction, both literary and cinematic, with a particular focus on tropes, edited by Cassandra O’Sullivan Sachar.

Like the final girl who makes it to the end of the novel, horror fiction has endured despite obstacles and tired, recycled plotlines. From The Twilight Zone’s Talking Tina to Child’s Play’s Chucky or The Conjuring’s Annabelle, the haunted doll cliché is an example of something that has been done so many times that any new story feels stale. Look at any website of short horror fiction and you’ll find escaped killers, cursed artifacts, and lost ghosts.

Horror fiction, like any genre, has its common elements. Rather than the meet-cute in a romance, there’s boy meets ghost or girl kills vampire. While certain horror tropes have been reused for centuries, great horror writing moves beyond the formula by adding elements that are new and unexpected. We want to be terrified, to read something so sinister that we breathe with relief when finished and sigh in contentment as we tuck ourselves in at night, hoping that the creatures about which we read will stay confined to the page rather than reaching out from under our beds. The same old storyline redone with a fresh coat of paint isn’t always enough to raise the goosebumps on the backs of our necks.

What makes horror fiction resilient? What breathes new life into a genre that thrives on stereotype? There’s still an enormous audience for horror fiction, but writers and filmmakers must create content that feels unique and exciting.

The volume No More Haunted Dolls: Horror Fiction that Transcends the Tropes is meant to be a resource for writers, filmmakers, scholars, students, and fans of horror.

The broad themes that we are interested in are as follows:

  • A discussion of common horror tropes in literature and/or cinema
  • In-depth analysis of a single trope in multiple contexts
  • Critique on techniques authors have used to infuse fresh life into tropes
  • The examination of a single work of literature or film and its positive or negative use of tropes
  • Arguments for or against the inclusion of common horror tropes
  • A study of how authors’ or filmmakers’ use of tropes has changed/evolved/devolved over time
  • Advice for horror writers or filmmakers on how to avoid and/or transcend tropes
  • In-depth critique of a single author’s or filmmaker’s use of tropes in their body of work
  • How to teach horror writing
  • And other themes related to horror

If you are interested in contributing to the edited volume, please submit your chapter proposal (around 300 words) and biography (no more than 100 words) to the editor Dr. Cassandra O’Sullivan Sachar at by June 30, 2023. Chapters should be between 4,000-8,000 words.

Proposal deadline: June 30, 2023
Acceptance/Non-acceptance notice: end of July 2023
Chapter submission deadline: October 30, 2023 (chapters will undergo peer-review)

This proposal is due on June 30th 2023.

Page last updated on April 28th 2023. All information correct at the time, but subject to change.