It's hard not to miss anyone when thinking in a 40-year-old span, but I think these authors are some of the best that came out of horror literature.
1. Stephen King
King is a powerhouse to this day, he still churns out fascinating horror books and just recently he wrote a sequel to the fan favorite, "The Shining." He's also been working in the horror movie business for some time. A favorite among many and one that you can't leave off the list.
2. Clive Barker
Barker gave us many things for both literature and cinema. His "Books of the Blood" series are some of the most creepy short stories ever created, his novella "Hellbound Heart," gave us the world of "Hellraiser," and many other tales he's written that are iconic like his young adult series, "Abarat." His work is beyond creative and he takes horror and fantasy novels to a whole new level. Personal favorite has to be "Damnation Game" or "Cabal."
3. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Yarbo is the creator of the vampire Saint-Germain. The first book was made in the late 70s. It's a very popular historical fiction vampire series that if you haven't read them ever, well you're missing something. She many other supernatural horror too and short stories. In 2006 the International Horror Guild enrolled her among their Living Legends, the first woman to be so honored; and 2009 the Horror Writers Association gave her a Life Achievement Award.
4. Bentley Little
Bentley Little wrote many horror novels, his first one in 1990 gave him a Bram Stoker award for Best First Novel. He's been writing since and his books are always strange and fun. Sometimes overlooked Little is a force in horror fiction.
5. Nancy A. Collins
Another horror author who has created a popular vampire character, who is named Sonja Blue. Many say that if you're looking for paranormal romance with her series especially her first book you're in the wrong place! Collins also wrote comic books like "The Swamp Thing" series and "Jason Vs. Leatherface. She's written since 1989 over twenty books.
So who else do you think has shelved out some great writing since the last 40 years?