The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is one of the most influential ghost stories of all time, and it probably had the most influence on The Forgiving. If you ever want to write a modern ghost story, this book is required reading.
The Haunting of Hill House has inspired more than one movie, the 1963 version being the most faithful and effective, though I recommend sticking with the creeping psychological terror of the novel.
The horror that had the most influence on my impressionable young mind when I was growing up was Clive Barker. I started with his children’s book The Thief of Always and then the very adult Weaveword and then read the first volume of Books of Blood. His dark fantasy work influenced my House of Cabal series, but his Books of Blood were a main touchstone for The Forgiving.
Books of Blood works its way through extreme gore toward more existential horror, all the while exhibiting endless creativity and an authoritative narrative voice. It’s the best horror collection I have yet found.
His writing was also one of the first I had read with gay characters and queer sexual themes.
The film that influenced The Forgiving the most would be Rosemary’s Baby. I love the happy tone through the beginning of the film, then the mounting paranoia that creeps into her perfect life.
The final influence on The Forgiving is the endless stream of slasher films from the 80s and 90s and onward that I never had a taste for.
My main goal with The Forgiving was to not have any disposable characters that you hoped got killed. That’s why I had the three main characters in a loving romantic relationship. I’m not a fan of horror that is written to punish sin. I think horror works better when it is transgressive, unexpected, and challenges social norms and the status quo.
Buy The Forgiving HERE.