Too Spoopy

Too Spoopy


  • Random-Ass Interview: Philip Gelatt


    Phillip Gellat is the screenwriter of Europa Report, and wrote a film adaptation of Laird Barron’s short story 30. I’m sure you’ll be hearing his name a lot in the coming months.

    What’s been the hardest thing for you to write so far?

    The hardest thing was a screenplay I was hired to write. An adaptation, though not of a short story or of a comic or a novel. I’ll leave it at that. The experience was – it was like having a bunch of nails fucked into my eye holes, while I slowly inserted rusty wire hooks under my fingernails so that a team of maniacs could manipulate my typing without my seeing.

    What’s the most challenging part of adapting a short story into a screenplay?

    The dread is the most challenging part. Dreading that.

    Shaken or stirred?

    Are you trying to get me to talk about Bond? I’d love to talk about Bond. Because listen to me here and now: George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton might not have been the best Bonds but they are in two of the best Bond films ever. Living Daylights does globe-trotting so god damned well. Bond and the Mujahadeen! It’s amazing.

    And On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is such a special movie. A Bond movie that ends with emotional devastation! It’s incredible.

    And also stirred, please.

    Do you like oatmeal?

    Yep. I eat it every morning. I’ve developed various ways of making it. I used to put a ton of powdered ginger in it. Now I put peanut butter. I like to think of it like my morning witch’s brew. Strength for the coming day.

    How do you like your coffee?

    Dark roasted and black. Two cups a day.

    Favorite short story?

    Oh sweet Jesus. Favorite of all time?! This interview is sadistic. The first short story I remember loving is The Lagoon by Joseph Conrad. Though, in all honesty, I remember very little about the story itself, just the feeling of having loved it.

    Lovecraft’s short stories are probably the ones I’ve re-read the most. Though I’ve also spent a lot of time with Barker’s Books of Blood.

    I can say that over the last two years I’ve been reading a lot of short fiction most of it in the weird and horror vein. I recently found myself floored by Robert Aickman’s work.

    Ever fired a gun? I haven’t, unless you count one of those tiny little rifles they let Boy Scouts shoot at camp. That’s more like a pellet gun though, I think…

    Yep. I have. I grew up in Wisconsin farm country and there were guns around. So I got to fire them. I have one particularly crazy story of getting taken to a weird little one room shack somewhere over the hills that bound my home town explicitly to fire guns. The shack was, at the time, covered in right wing propaganda (Limbaugh photos, anti-Clinton slogans, this was the mid-90s) and guns. Lots of guns.

    I spent the afternoon firing said guns with a bunch of hunter types, all of whom were there to both shoot and get drunk.

    One of them told me that the only way to ensure a hand gun is accurate is to dry fire it constantly. Like I should buy one and just walk around the house pretending to shoot things with an empty gun. Then he told me about how he’d accidentally shot a hole in his fridge that way.

    It’s a very strange memory.

    How did you get into writing comic scripts? Was it hard for you to get your foot in the door with that?

    Compared to the time other people have breaking into that world, I had a relatively easy time. The artist on my first comic was also working on The Venture Brothers. When you say that to publishers, they perk up a bit and listen.

    Have you ever actually got your foot caught in a door?

    I haven’t! But I have knocked my two front teeth out on a bathtub.

    What would you do if you came home, and there was a severed foot stuck in between the front door to your place?

    Ask it politely to leave.

    Who do you think would win in a fight, Robert E. Howard, or Howard the Duck?

    I… I… I’d love to say “The duck” and justify it in some epic fashion. But I’d have to say the Robert would win. Then again, I don’t actually know that much about Howard the Duck… except that he’s trapped in a world he never made.

    If trees scream, does that mean grass would too when you mowed it?

    One cannot assume such, no. They’d be entirely different species. Perhaps the grass suffers silently. Perhaps it weeps. Or perhaps it just bides its time, cataloguing every blade we trim, and waiting for its moment.

    What’s your favorite part about living in Providence? You do live in Providence right? I hope I didn’t just pull that out of my ass…

    I do live in Providence. I’ve been here for about 5 years. Providence is a weird city. It’d be a weird city even if it didn’t have the Lovecraft connection going for it.

    My favorite part is my house. We moved from Brooklyn so having a house felt really special. I have my office in the attic. When we moved in we found old chiropractic back braces under the eaves. It made the whole thing special.

    What kind of comics have you read which inspired you? What kind of films have inspired you to write films?

    I am and will forever be an Alan Moore apologist. From Hell is my favorite comic of all time and it is something I am always coming back to as a high watermark of storytelling. When I was a teen, I was all about Dark Horse’s “Legends” line. So the Mignola, Chadwick, Miller, Allred, Byrne stuff. Then in college I was all about the Vertigo books of the ‘90s and ‘00s (Preacher, TransMet, The Invisibles, Sandman). Lately I haven’t been reading many comics, sadly.

    As for film, I’m not exactly spouting a radical theory when I say that American film of the 1970s was something special. I find myself constantly inspired by that era. It was radical and philosophical and poetic and felt hand-crafted. Each of those movies, even the bad ones, is special in some way.

    Clowns, why?

    Because if there is a god, he hates us all. And if there isn’t, then it’s just us and our luck versus the clowns down here and isn’t that an upsetting thought.

    Go anything to pluggy-plug? Do it now!

    Well, I started shooting that adaptation of a Laird Barron short story last week, so everyone should keep their eyes peeled for that! Feel free to follow me on twitter (@pmjeepers) or instagram (philipgelatt) where I’ll be posting pictures and things from behind the scenes.

  • Random-Ass Interview: Scott R. Jones


    Scott R. Jones wrote a bunch of goodness, so Google him, but also check out When the Stars are Right, and Tales of the Resonator, which he edited.

    Does the R stand for “Rocker”?

    Perhaps at one point it did? I think it probably stands for “Raunch” now. That, or “Random”, because I feel both these days. Randomly raunchy? Yup. Oh wait, no, neither. It stands for “Really Tired All the Time Because Toddlers”.

    Dogs or cats?

    Man! The hardball questions right outta the gate! Lessee. I’m gonna go with neither. As mentioned, I’ve got two kids ages 4 and 2 and the idea of cleaning up the feces of a third thing, and one not directly related to me, or even my species, is just… just no. No. Also (and I don’t know if they have this in the US) here we are required by law and, I dunno, civic duty or something, to pick up the dog’s waste while out on walkies. With the little plastic bag on your hand, sure, but friends. Friends, that’s still warm canine dookie you’re wrapping your digits around, and I am not down with that. I guess if this writing thing begins to ever pay and we end up living on a ranch, I might think about having a dog. That way it can run around in the woods and poop where it likes, as the Elder Things (and Nature!) intended. Ditto for the cat.

    Favorite swear?

    Hoooo, I tend to wander all over the board for this one. But one phrase I’ve become recently enamored of is “Go die in a fire” or “Die in a fire”. My wife introduced it to me, and it’s just really special. Succinct, punchy. It’s got a nice element of horrible torture in it, and the possibility of surviving it (by having someone put out said fire) is introduced, kinda? But also removed. Hope is offered, between the lines, and then taken away. Which I like. It’s certainly not a general purpose insult, but we’re using it more and more.

    What’s the most annoying thing you encounter when people found out you’re a Canadian?

    Oh, we’re not allowed to be annoyed up here. I do nod my head and put on a thin-lipped smile when I get the “say, do you know Dave Whatsisface from Canada?”

    What do you think the role of genre is in fiction?

    Y’know, genre is a basic template. It’s a skeleton. Writers get to slap wads of flesh on the thing, and make it live and move and, hopefully, breathe. I think (and this is just my take, personally) that if your genre piece comes outta the other end of that process just looking like a fleshy skeleton, then you’ve done it wrong. Or wrongish. Because then all you’ve done is, like, a facial reconstruction? When it comes to the horror genre, or weird fiction specifically, I think it should be difficult to tell what the bones of the thing are.

    If you could be any kind of monster, what kind would you be?

    Oh, I think anything that could fold in and out of dimensions would be just super-keen! Go anywhere. Live in the walls. The FX budget would be a killer, though. So, I guess a Dimensional Shambler? You could call me “Shambles: The Intersectional Man”! I wouldn’t fight crime, though. So don’t ask me to.

    What’s the grossest Lovecraftian sex scene you’ve ever read? Have you ever written a really gross Lovecraftian sex scene?

    Well, I did help Justine Geoffrey put together and edit the climactic chapter in her first BLACKSTONE Erotica book, Red Monolith Frenzy, in which a small eastern European town’s worth of rabid sex-mutants, at the urging of their high priestess and under the influence of a dread worm-deity straight outta Robert E. Howard, merge into a vast pulsating column of flesh before disappearing into a vagina-portal. Not your momma’s orgy, lemme tell ya. The weird thing is, it turns out that kind of scene is actually hot? I mean, after a fashion. I think we’re going to see a lot of much weirder stuff in the coming years, as transhumanism becomes the norm. Come, Armageddon! Come!

    You told me you sculpt a bust of Cthulhu about once a year? Have you ever thought about doing one where Cthulhu has a sign that says “R’lyeh or bust!”?

    But can I put it on a t-shirt for the Big C to wear, instead? I can? YAY! Thanks Sean!

    Would you ever go full Alan Moore and live in the middle of nowhere and grow a huge beard, and generally look like a crazy homeless man?

    I thought he lived in Highbury. There was that album he did up as a séance. Or Northampton? Anyway, smack dab in the middle of Old England. Is that Nowhere? Maybe? Anyway, no to the nowhere and yes to the beard, though I doubt it will ever get to epic proportions on my face because a) the wife wouldn’t allow it and b) I have, I dunno, a depletion in testosterone or something that makes it ridiculously hard to grow facial hair (what I have now took me literally months to build and it is scraggly as eff, son!) and maybe to the crazy homeless man thing, on all three counts. Crazy is as crazy does, for one thing, and I’ve always felt kinda homeless everywhere I’ve lived for another, and if I perform the rituals correctly, I may not be A MAN at all by the time I kick it, so… SUCK IT, MOORE! #THUGWIZBIZ4LIFE

    If using a stapler is stapling, why is putting a paper clip on something not called paper-clipping? Or is it?

    It is in Canada. But only because we’re so progressive and right-thinking.

    Follow up, if you have a a paper clip in your pocket, would it make sense to say you had a “full clip”?

    Ummm… is this question to do with the NRA, or the like? I’ve only ever fired a gun once, at a shooting range in Las Vegas. It was weird and uncomfortable, and not at all like playing Halo. Horrible way to end the honeymoon, too.

    You ever had a root canal?

    I seem to recall some kind of dental work in the deep past. But I was seriously drugged. Surgery is always disturbing.

    You ever had a route on a canal?

    Paper route? Mail route? I guess you could ask me again in a couple months, as I live around major waterways and tributaries and I’ve just started a day-job with Canada Post as a new-fangled “Delivery Agent”. I can now go postal and have an excuse!

    What do you think of root vegetables?

    I don’t think of them at all. They certainly don’t think of me, so.

    You ever gotten really lost before?

    Oh, sure! We have this coming-of-age thing in Canada where they just leave kids on the tundra, blindfolded, with a Trapper Nelson packed full of bannock, pemmican, and a beat-up Walkman with the greatest hits of The Guess Who on tape. Took me five months, but I returned to my village a man. I think it’s the same thing in Alaska, but I don’t know, maybe ask Laird Barron about the American version. Seriously, though, yes. Yes, I’ve spent one-too-many nights in the woods. Never again, it’s super-gross and distressing.

    Who do you think would win in a fight, Ramsey Campbell, or Clive Barker?

    You’re not asking for details for this, so I’ll just say Ramsey Campbell. I think he’s just more robust. And I’m not just saying that because Ramsey liked that story of mine that one time very recently.

    Favorite type of pie?

    Key Lime. No contest.

    Got any plugs to plug, then plug ‘em?!

    Oh yeah?! Why I oughta… I’ll plug you! (Oh wait, you mean promo stuff…) Well, I’m fairly proud of the work we’ve done at Martian Migraine Press with our 2015 anthology, RESONATOR: New Lovecraftian Tales From Beyond (available direct from MMP in both electronic and RealBook™ formats, or on order from most fine retailers) and of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t direct your readers to my own auto-ethnographical work of Cthulhu Mythos-based spirituality/self-help, When The Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality. I won’t stop with that biz until there are at least 23 Cthulhusattva’s walkin’ around out there. Kinda like the Hebrew’s 36 Tzadikim but y’know, with more eldritch chutzpah! We could all use a little more #KeepingItRlyeh in our lives, anyway. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Thanks, Sean!

  • Random-Ass Interview: Ted E. Grau


    I hate to judge a person based on fiction, as it’s an easy way to mistake fiction for reality. However, I get a sense you might have had some partying days in you? Anything you care to share?

    As a kid growing up in Middle America who idolized people like Hunter Thompson, Samuel Coleridge, Jack Kerouac, and Jim Morrison, I’ve clocked my late night hours on the weird end of the dial, but I don’t really care to share anything specific, as I find that sort of conversation so incredibly boring. Anyone who constantly talks publicly or romantically about drinking or drugs probably hasn’t had any experience with either.

    Favorite mixed drink?

    A rocket strength Jameson Irish coffee with a splash of Baileys. Remove the “mixed” and it’s Jameson neat. Keep the “mixed,” and I like this concoction called a Thirsty Crow, served up at this little hipster dive of the same name in Silverlake. They make them with a dank Rye, ginger beer, lemon juice, bitters, and mint. Kind of like a cowboy mojito. Refreshing as hell, with a nice warm kick. Cadillac margaritas in the summertime are also nice. I’m not too snooty or macho when it comes to a quality cocktail.

    What scares you?

    What terrifies me more than anything else is the thought of my wife and daughter being in danger, threatened, or scared. I would rip through walls and take on armies to make sure that never, ever happens. I think and worry about it daily. Either of them becoming seriously ill also scares the shit out of me.

    Moving down the priority list a bit, I personally don’t like the idea of imprisonment or being immobilized and at the mercy of others, squeezing into small, enclosed spaces, and humanoid figures with unnaturally long appendages. Things with large, unblinking eyes. An unexpected knock on our front door. Marionettes, old masks, and unintentionally bizarre clowns also rank in there somewhere. As I’ve gotten older, and after several recurring dreams of falling from buildings several miles high, I don’t like great heights anymore, either.

    In a general sense, people scare me. Males of the human species in particular. The made-up horrors I tend to write about pale in comparison to what has been unleashed by human beings. Aside from a very close circle, I don’t trust a one of them. How can you? It’s not like the monsters amongst us wear placards.

    Favorite monster?

    Godzilla as a child, and probably Cthulhu as an adult (I think you can see the running theme here in terms of size, dramatic aquatic entrance, etc.). Victor Frankenstein’s monster in Mary Shelley’s book is quite fascinating, and from a purely visual perspective, Slender Man is pretty spooky, what with the featureless white face, long proportions, and watchful total silence.

    Favorite swear?

    “Horseshit.” Old timers and football coaches use it with such aplomb. I also like a good non-specific “cocksucker,” perfected by Al Swearengen on Deadwood. Personally, I use “motherfucker” way too much. I’m pretty trite with my own expletives.

    If you could ride an elephant to work, would you? It seems like it’d be a real pain to park the thing/ keep it from trampling people to death.

    Hell no. No proper turning signals and shitty handling in LA traffic. I’d let my daughter name it, then take that beautiful beast out into a protected wildlife area and set it free, posting up with a .306 in case poachers got some ideas.

    What if the Dark wasn’t actually Nameless, but had a really lame name like Bartholomew?

    Then Bartholomew Dark would get his own self-titled show on the CW, starring nine people that all look way too much like actors.


    What do you think of the term “torture porn”?

    I think the term is accurate, as it appeals to a base, apparently popular desire to see relatively innocent human beings – primarily women – endure terror, pain, and a gruesome death. People are fucked up like that. I don’t think it’s very interesting, though. WHY these twisted individuals are doing what they do is far more fascinating than HOW they do it, or the end result. If I was hired to write some stupid torture porn movie, it would be all background, lead-up, and counterpunch, with the gore happening entirely off-screen, sometimes heard but never seen. Your brain will construct an infinitely more horrifying death scene than any filmmaker can ever stage. Hitchcock understood that.

    I’m more of a fan of “revenge porn” than “torture porn,” as I do have a soft spot in my grayish heart for bad things happening to bad people who truly deserve it. And there are so many who do.

    Do you think William S. Burroughs ever really did use his bare hands to dig into the dirt, hence being a Burroughs who burrowed?

    I think Burroughs was rather soft in the underbelly, being a man born of great means and devoted as he was to shooting junk into his veins. He’s no doubt buried a few bodies, but probably either hired out, or used a shovel. Guys like him don’t do the heavy lifting. They just write checks and watch.

    Pistol or revolver?

    Bazooka. The old timey kind that all my green Army men used. Or that classic Russian-made RPG. The kind they used in Red Dawn, and are the favorite weapon of jihadists and insurgents of all stripes around the world. Those things are like souped-up bottle rockets. I’ve had daydreams about shooting one of those for years.

    Do you like spicy food? It hurts me stomach.

    I do, indeed. Although I have a pretty sensitive stomach, the irony of which is never lost of my wife when I toss back raw peppers and then wait for my night to be ruined.

    Worst job?

    Detasseling corn at age 14. Child labor laws didn’t really exist out on the Upper Plains back in the 80s, and so my first “corporate” job other than working for other farmers (walking beans, bailing hay, scooping animal waste of every kind, etc.) was a forced march through endless rows of seed corn alongside a motley crew of inner city kids, migrants, and ex con hard cases who couldn’t get hired on anywhere else. Getting up at 4 am, being bussed across the river to Iowa, then herded into fields of wet, razor sharp green sword blades while line bosses with bad prison tats degrade you like drill sergeants for every tassel you miss – that’s not the way you want to spend your summer. I forgot to bring gloves the first day, and still have the scars all over my fingers. I don’t mind hard work, but that was pure hell.

    Favorite fruit?

    Rainier cherries. Thank goodness I married an Armenian girl.

    Dogs or cats?


    You ever had a story you wrote you hated, but everyone else seemed to like?

    Not really, as I wouldn’t try to sell or publish a story I hated. It is interesting to see which stories get the most response, and why.

    Shower, or bath?

    Shower. I grew out of baths when I grew out of my Toughskins.

    Granite counter tops, or marble?

    Granite. Slate gray, rough hewn, hopefully containing the petrified remains of many ancestors.

    If you got any plugs, let the readers know, Ted.

    Well, my first collection of short fiction, The Nameless Dark, is available through Lethe Press.


    A novelette, “MonoChrome,” that doesn’t appear in my collection, can be found in the anthology In The Court of the Yellow King, published by Celaeno Press. It’s a Los Angeles tale and introduces Henry Ganz, a character that I want to revisit in future work. I’m presently working on a few novellas, the first of which has sold (announcement coming soon) and the second of which might come out through the same publisher, as they have interest in publishing both. I also have some novels that are piecing themselves together in the back of my mind, and dozens of short stories I either need to finish or start. Once completed, one of my upcoming fiction collections will be titled Salt Creek: Tales of Prairie Horror and will feature horror and dark fiction that all takes place in the Midwest, primarily Nebraska.

    As always, there are too many ideas and projects spinning in the ether, with so little time to pull them in and clean them up.

    Thanks for participating.

    Thanks for having me, Sean. It’s been fun.

  • Random-Ass Interview: Orrin Grey


    Orrin Grey is a skeleton, who writes horror fiction.
    Check out his new collection, Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts from Word Horde out October 31st!

    Pasta or Ziti?

    Well, since I had to look up what ziti is—I’m a heathen—I would say pasta, but when I looked it up, ziti looked really good, so now I’m gonna have to go try it…

    Spanish language Del Toro, or in English Del Toro?

    Del Toro’s Spanish language films certainly have the better track record so far, but his English language films are full of so much promise that it’s tough for me to pick. I still believe that someday we’ll get the movie that finally combines the resonance of his Spanish language filmography with the ambition and enthusiasm of his English language blockbusters, and that will be the ultimate Del Toro movie. For now, Pacific Rim is as close to that as we’ve come, which is probably why it’s my favorite.

    Salt or pepper?

    Salt, definitely. Everything is better with a little salt.

    What happens if a vampire drinks a zombie’s blood?

    A very unsatisfied vampire, most likely.

    What happens if a zombie bites a vampire?

    Only one way to find out?

    Actually, not much, the way I figure it. If the zombies are zombies because of magic or something, then the vampire is already a form of the risen dead, so he’s probably about as risen as he can get. And if the zombies are a virus, then the vampire probably doesn’t have a working circulatory system to spread it around. Maybe the vampire would become a carrier in that situation, though. That could be pretty cool.

    You heard there’s a genre now called Dreadpunk?
    I heard there’s a lot of those at the mall.

    There are still people at the mall? As for Dreadpunk, I’ve got no problem with it, though I liked it fine when we just called it Gothic. I guess Dreadpunk is easier to market?

    If there’s a Mall of America, does that mean there’s a Mall of Canada?

    We should ask a Canadian. Silvia?

    How do skeletons procreate?

    Get a few drinks in me and maybe you’ll find out.

    If something is made by a professional, is it not pro-creation?

    Works for me.

    Do you think trees feel pain?

    Sure, just really, really slowly. We’re probably all in for a terrifying arboreal reckoning one of these decades.

    Chainsaw or Shotgun?

    I don’t like guns, and chainsaws make too much noise. So just give me an ax or a sword or something and we’ll call it a day.

    What if Swamp Thing and The Blob had a baby?

    I think you’d end up with this thing:


    What is a “Painted Monster”?

    Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I’m not really sure. The title comes from a quote from the 1968 Peter Bodganovich film Targets, in which an aging Boris Karloff, basically playing himself, says “My kind of horror is not horror anymore. No one’s afraid of a painted monster.” In that context, Karloff is obviously referring to his own former roles, but he’s also talking about the way that horror cinema was changing in the 60s, the creaky Gothic horrors of yesteryear giving way to more visceral and naturalistic shockers.

    In the title story of the collection, the phrase comes into play to refer to a lot of different things. There’s a literal painted monster, in the form of a variant of Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son,” and then of course there’s the figure of Constantin Orlok, a makeup artist from the golden age of Hollywood, famous for creating “painted monsters” of his own. When titling the collection, I like to think that I was referencing all of that, while also alluding to the difference between the imaginary (painted) monsters that I love and the much more unappealing real-life monsters of poverty, racism, greed, disease, etc.

    When did you decide to have all of your internet avatars be a skeleton?

    Be warned, this is kind of a long story. Back in the day, Mike Mignola used to draw these sketches of guys with floating skull heads when he went to conventions. I loved them, and used one as my avatar on LiveJournal for a while (I told you this was back in the day). About the same time, I was working on the staff of a now-defunct magazine of old-fashioned weird fiction called The Willows. My friend Reyna was also on staff, working as a sort of art director. At one point, she was going to draw caricatures of the whole staff to run on the website, and when it came time for her to do mine I told her to draw me as a guy with a floating skull head.

    That might have been the end of it, except that I also needed a bio to go along with the drawing. I hate writing bios, so I was taking a long time in getting one put together, and Ben Thomas, who was the editor, wrote this placeholder text to go with the illustration: “Orrin Grey is a skeleton who likes monsters.” It was so much better than any bio I could ever come up with that we kept it, and it became a part of my bio from that day forward. As I got a little more established and started using well-dressed skeletons as my avatar pretty much everywhere, I actually reached out to Mike Mignola to make sure that it was okay, since by then he was using his own skull-head guys on his website and on merchandise and stuff. Fortunately he said yes, and the rest is history.

    Favorite movie about the Wendigo?

    Y’know, I’ve never actually seen the movie Wendigo? Seems weird, right? So, given that, I’d have to say Ravenous. Unless TV shows count, in which case, Hannibal.

    Favorite movie about vampires?

    Damn, there are so many movies about vampires, that do so many different things. Normally, I really like vampires that are a little more like monsters and a little less like people, but in spite of that, I’m gonna have to go with some Hammer titles here and say probably The Vampire Lovers. Special bonus points to Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter for having some of the best/weirdest vampire mythology in any movie ever.

    Favorite movie with tentacles?

    That’s a tough one. Maybe It Came from Beneath the Sea. I’ve also got a (probably underserved) soft spot for Deep Rising.

    Does ye have anything to plug?

    Well the obvious thing to plug right now would be my latest collection, Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts, which is available for preorder now from Word Horde. Of its thirteen stories, three are entirely original to the collection, including the title novelette. The stories pretty much all tie in to film in one way or another, and are arranged to give a sort of crash course in the history of the horror cinema, starting out with silent movies and the films of the 30s and 40s and working their way up through Gialli, kaiju movies, found footage, ghost films, and a variety of others.

    Thanks for taking part in el interview.

  • Around the Corner: An Essay on Stephen King

    Almost two decades. It’s weird to think that much time has passed since my mom bought me that hardcover of Nightmares and Dreamscapes Christmas of my twelfth year. Before this of course I was reading nothing but those Goosebumps books. They were all the rage with the middle school set back in… Jesus, was it really 1996? Did such a year really exist all those years ago? Did Pogs really exist? Were OK Soda, Sifl and Olly on MTV after school, and video stores really around? The memories are like old photographs from outdated cameras. Those pictures you used to have to shake to get a clear visual of. The ones you had to wait to see how they turned out.

    I remember it was hard to read. Not just because it was one of the very first adult books I’d ever delved into, only shortly after I’d read The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton. I mean it was literally hard to read, as the hardcover was heavy for my little twelve-year old forearms to lift.

    The First King

    I read most of that hardcover of Nightmares with the scarecrow on it on a trip my parents took from our home state of Massachusetts down to South Carolina. My grandparents had a time-share there, and to save money on airfare, my dad decided to drive down.

    I remember being in the back of a mini van, reading by a flashlight. Reading about the Ten O’ Clock People. I have no idea why, of all the stories in the collection, The Ten O’ Clock People is the one I remember most vividly. Perhaps, because it seemed so adult to a twelve-year-old. People on cigarette breaks from their adult jobs, except they were seeing these weird monsters that passed themselves off as human. In that strange way memory works, like those pictures you have to shake that sometimes didn’t come out, the only thing I really remember understanding from the story back then was that quitting cigarettes was hard, and that batmen could in fact be seen if you smoked cigs, and then tried to quit.

    Why I don’t remember about Dolan’s Cadillac as strongly is utterly beyond me. I was in a car reading it, you’d think that would be the one that stuck out. But I digress.

    To be frank, I remember the weight of Nightmares and Dreamscapes more than I remember the content of the book itself. Like the first time you learn to do something, how what you often remember is the first time you were proficient at it. Not how you finally learned how to stay up on that bike without training wheels, but rather the time you rode down the street to go get pizza with some friends.

    The first King book I really remember the plot of was ‘Salem’s Lot. I was huge into vampires, my mother having those Vampire Lestat books all over the house, and she waxing poetic on Dracula, and her no doubt reading me stories of vampires. So, when I went into a text by this really cool author who wrote about monsters and scary adult stuff, and it was about vampires, you can bet I was over the damn moon.

    I still remember the cover was a pale vampire, with fangs out, and neon purple outlining his face, against the black. It was the Signet edition. I remember being really creeped out by the town, by the Martsen house. My family had moved from a house on a busy street in another town, to a larger house on a quiet street in a very rural town. The move no doubt had a lot to do with the resonance the novel had with me.

    By that summer I was verily King obsessed. And, it was time for my family to go on our yearly summer vacation to the Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine.

    I grew up in Massachusetts. Yes, we’re a state in New England, but well, we’re not like Maine. Maine is a way bigger state. And, most importantly, Maine has some woods you can really, truly get lost in. Maine has small towns sorta like Jersusalem’s Lot. Not that they’re full of vampires, but they are very small.

    There’s a different vibe to the state. Things move slower. Or, maybe people from Massachusetts are just really hyper. Who knows? Point is, you can’t spend any time in Maine without hearing something about Stephen King. Hell, I’d argue you can’t go anywhere in New England without hearing something about him. But, back in the 90s, you really couldn’t escape his looming shadow.

    For the first time, in that summer of my twelfth year, I noticed there was a picture of Stephen King in the lobby of The Samoset Resort. He had those signature coke bottle glasses on, the frames of which seem to be a favorite among serial killers and computer programmers if you go through pictures of either from the late 80s and 90s. For some reason he also had a mustache, a green button up shirt, and green cowboy boots. I’m not making this up, if you ever happen by The Samoset Resort in Maine, go check.

    At some point that year my mom told me her friends used to be neighbor’s with the Kings in Maine. They told her how he owned a pink Cadillac he kept in the driveway, and how there was a black iron fence with bats on the top outside the house.

    My grandfather on my mom’s side grew up in Maine, too. We’re pretty close, gramps and me.

    So, you see, all of these things, my relatives and my mom’s friends from Maine, our yearly vacation to a resort in Maine King had, it turned out, visited, and my budding young imagination, everything combined that summer to put me in the prime head space for The Gunslinger, the first book in The Dark Tower series.

    The Gunslinger hit me like a slap to the face. I was never one of those kids that liked cowboys before this. And suddenly here’s this story about a desert, and a mythical cowboy with hands fast as lighting. Here’s this story about a man in black, a magician who wants to set The Dark Tower to toppling, destroying everything. For the Tower is everything, friends. It holds up our very existence on it. And here’s me, reading about a boy named Jake, who wakes up in Roland’s universe. Jake, who was alive in New York City, until he was pushed into traffic and died.

    I became Jake that summer. And King himself was Roland. I was following the path of the beam; a path this man who grew up not so very far away from where I grew up wrote about. And I got the sense that King was never very far off, you understand? It sounds very silly, but it almost seemed that summer like I was meant to read The Gunslinger.

    I finished The Gunslinger, and needed to read more of the books in the series. I needed to read more Stephen King. I became down right fanatical.

    It all started with that one book my mom probably bought me for Christmas because she wanted to encourage me to read. I’m sure she didn’t think that two decades later, I’d have two tattoos on my body dedicated to King’s fiction. I’m sure she didn’t think I’d spend so much time and energy reading so much Stephen King.

    You see, the power of Stephen King has always been that he has put himself into his stories. King has never been afraid to get personal with his fiction. But I would argue another layer of the onion, once peeled, is that for people in New England, especially in the 90s, King was like a rock star, like an actor, like a famous athlete. King was always around the corner, you understand? He always seemed like you might see him at a Red Sox game, or see him getting an orange Crush at a gas station at a rest stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire. So, when you get someone who is so honest with their fiction, throwing so much of themselves into it, and then you come to find out he likes to ham it up in credit card ads, and likes to see his picture in the magazines, and likes to cameo in some of the adaptations of his work into films, or mini series…

    I still feel like he’s just around the corner. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away, to be honest. And, I’m also not sure if I should be thrilled, or a little irked out by this feeling. After all, this is also a guy who wore serial killer glasses for many, many, many years before finally switching them up. This is a guy who, when he was about the age I was when I got Nightmares and Dreamscapes, used to collect newspaper clippings of killer Charles Starkweather.

    Deep down, down where the memories sit in an album on a shelf in my mind, I know the important thing is the feelings his fiction evoked in me; is the way the fiction, and learning about the man made me feel about myself. The importance of Stephen King in my life, particularly in the 90s, was, and has always been, that he’s made me realize the power of the imagination, and the power of image. The reason King’s fiction was so pivotal, and say, Crichton’s was not, is that Crichton never seemed like he could have been someone like me.

    Almost two decades, man. So many words. So many books. That’s a lot of time. That’s a life time for some.

    You might be wondering, so what? So a horror nerd got a good PR team, and you ate it right up, so what’s the big deal, who cares?

    I gotta’ be like one of those hippies from Woodstock in my response. You had to be there, man. I can’t really explain it to you.

  • Random-Ass Interview: Ellen Datlow

    Photo on 5-14-15 at 4.20 PM

    Ellen Datlow has a bajillion anthologies out she’s edited. In the interest of time, just go to amazon, or her website, to check out links to the plethora of them.
    But, Nightmare Carnival rules, and a new one The Doll Collection, is out now!

    Favorite part about NYC?

    Everything– but especially the fact that it really is the city that never sleeps!

    So you collect dolls. How many you got, if you were to give it a rough estimate?

    Oh gods, are you going to make me count? And do you mean whole dolls or parts of dolls? I have lots of doll heads, lots of doll tootsies and arms and a few torsos.
    And do I count the voodoo dolls and the Japanese Kokeshi dolls (wooden).
    Looking around my living room (there are some in other rooms) there are dozens of all kinds and made of all materials. You can see the “problem” in the attached photo of my radiator in the living room.


    You have a collection you edited called Alien Sex.

    Uh, what’s that one about?

    Ummm. Alien sex of course 😉
    No really-it’s an anthology of science fiction stories about gender and human and not so human relationships.
    The “aliens” are sometimes just other species on this planet. A few funny stories, some black humor, but mostly dead serious. One of my favorite anthologies. (And one of my first).

    I suspect that Tom Waits might be an alien. Do you think Tom Waits is an alien?

    Oh yeah. With that voice? You bet!

    What kind of food you feed your cats? I do with that Blue Wilderness indoor formula for the dry, and usually either wilderness canned, or sometimes Weruva.

    Proplan soft food and Wellness hard food. Proplan is expensive but my cats have become very choosy and refuse what is known as “pate”-so I now try to buy a variety of flavors and chunky stuff with gravy. Mixed with the cheap stuff. I’m hoping it’s just the hot weather but they’re both off their feed.

    Photo on 5-14-15 at 5.00 PM #2

    How many hours do you read per day?

    A few hours–mixing different kinds of reading- manuscripts for or whatever original anthology I’m reading for and previously published stories for the Best Horror of the year, and any other reprint anthology on which I’m working.

    How many hours, on a good day, do you dedicate to editing?

    Sometimes not at all. Depends on deadlines. Other times a few hours. When editing short fiction, I can’t edit more than a few stories a day and need a break between each one.

    Joyce Carol Oates has a story that’s going to be in one of your new collections, which is about birds?

    Well, I didn’t know for sure that she’d be doing one for that anthology -I approach her for anthologies I think she might be interested in and she’ll usually say yes-if she can come up with an idea. If that happens, I might get a story from her in a few days. Otherwise, I don’t expect anything. So the first I knew she was working on this one was when she tweeted it -that was quite a surprise.

    Did you happen to see True Detective season 2, and the part with the dude in the bird mask? That was like, my favorite part.
    Here’s a pic of it.
    (What I just asked about her bird antho, it fits, sorta…)


    Not yet-no spoilers!! I watch everything on netflix DVDs so am awaiting its release.

    You have a favorite pizza place in NYC? Am I an asshole for asking?

    Actually, the one several blocks from me -a little hole in the wall called Village Pizza (on 8th avenue at 13th street)-when I have someone over whose helping me out with my tech, I often order in from there.
    You’re not an asshole -I hope everyone gets pizza there–it would help them enormously.

    Favorite candy?

    Too many–good n plenty, red twizzlers (the traditional kind that are chewy not the crap you often get now), See’s chocolate lolipops. Cotton Candy.

    Did you know cats have no sense of gender?

    No-how do they know and what does that mean? That they can’t sense gender in other cats? (Unlikely, or there wouldn’t be cats yowling like they’re being tortured 😉 )
    Or do you mean they can’t differentiate the gender of humans? And again…how could that be determined?

    (I don’t know, someone told me that the other day. I think they meant they can’t tell it about themselves… I have no idea, actually.)

    You drink a lot of coffee?

    Not much- usually a cup in the morning. Unless I’m out with people all day-then often we stop for iced coffee.

    Have you ever seen anybody actually slip on a banana peel? I haven’t. I’m crying foul, Looney Tunes.

    Nope. But I bet it’s happened at least once in real life–where would Looney Tunes get the idea from otherwise? And they can be very slippery, those banana peels.
    I would watch out for them if I were you.

    Well played, Datlow. Well played.

    Do you think Guillermo Del Toro would ever cast Benicio Del Toro, and have Guillermo Navarro help him with the cinematography? That’d be a confusing set. “Hey Del Toro… wait, I mean Benicio. Cool. Now where’s Guillermo?”

    You’re too silly! I’m not familiar with Navarro-but they’d probably call each other Guillermo (or “Big G), Benicio, and Navarro on the set.

    Favorite season?

    Spring-although there hardly is any in NYC-I love the gingko trees on my block, with their teeny tiny gingko leaves getting bigger and bigger. And the magnolias (although the blossoms only last a few days so sometimes if I’m out of town I miss them). And the white pear trees around the corner from me.

    Thanks for taking part in this babbling only semi-coherent exercise in thought patterns. Anything coming up you’d like to plug?

    The Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven is out NOW from Night Shade and The Monstrous is coming out from Tachyon in time for Halloween. Also, a bunch of my anthologies are now available as audio books
    Thanks for the fun interview!

  • The Add Horror Fan: Necronomicon 2015


    I’ll try my best to keep this intelligent, and not divert into the blog post equivalent of shaking my hands and going “oh my god, oh my god!”

    Now, let me preface this by stating I only got into a lot of weird fiction a few years ago. I grew up reading King, Barker, Crichton, and people of this nature. And yes, I read Lovecraft and loved him, but always found him to be very verbose in my early years. I still find him very verbose, but I can appreciate what he was going for now.

    Anyway, cut back to a nervous Spooky Sean, at the convention center in Providence, meeting people and listening to panels. If there is one thing I’m struck with having been to Necronomicon 2015, sitting here remembering, it’s the sense of community, warmth and welcomeness which I felt.

    In a day and age when sniping and yellow social media journalism are the norm, it’s wonderful to be in public with authors and artists, and see that everyone, even the racist old pieces of shit who happened to wander out of the home for the weekend, are very friendly, and inviting. I read an article by Silvia-Moreno Garcia who said that what Lovecraft really imparted and promoted was a generous nature. How Lovecraft was very into helping fellow writers, and being supportive. And boy, it seems that sense of community and giving nature has never left the scene. I was damn near assaulted with people saying hi, and introducing me to friends, and friends of friends.

    And also, Scotch.

    There was a whoooooole lot of Scotch.

    Speaking honestly, I’ve been to a few horror and writing conventions, and perhaps it’s that I seem to have found a nice fit for me in the weird community, but I’ve never experienced anything like the sheer unadulterated friendliness I found at Necronomicon this year.

    Since this is an ADD horror fan article, I won’t even edit the hops from topic to topic, but let’s talk about the obvious problem of Lovecraft’s racism, and how Necronomicon is taking steps to show the weird community is moving past the old ways. I met a lot of wonderful women who write weird and horror fiction, and listened to a panel about how Lovecraft is going global: what it’s like to adapt his work into, say, Swedish, or Spanish, and the various places across the globe his work seems to have a large audience within.

    Perhaps it’s the fact I grew up with a learning disability, but I tend to side with those whose voices are normally not heard from. And I will go to bat for these unheard voices, these new and exciting opinions from those who have previously been washed beneath a tide of status quo.

    Let’s be real about this. Lovecraft’s work brings racist assholes out of the woodwork. There’s no way to avoid that, as Lovecraft was also a racist pretentious asshole. But… H.P., he is long dead; more than 100 years dead and rotted away, and it seems that his old racist apologizers are being slowly but surely overrun by a new generation of people of color, women, and gay people, who are influenced not by his hate, but by his love of the cosmic, the terrible, and the weird.

    And that’s what I want to emphasize. In truly Lovecraftian fashion, I feel I am not properly equipped to express what I feel, and how this experience over the weekend has effected me. But allow me to try.

    Going to Necronomicon 2015 was a total blast. Despite one dumb line, most of the conversations I heard were about the exciting new things coming out of weird fiction from all sorts of different voices previously unheard. Most of the vibe I felt was that we are on the edge of a wondrous new future, where not only new voices, but new mashes of genre will make books, comics, and films even more wonderful, terrible, dark, terrifying, and exciting than ever before!

    I leave you with a favorite quote of mine from Lovecraft.

    “I never ask a man what his business is, for it never interests me. What I ask him about are his thoughts and dreams.”

    That is the power of Lovecraft; to inspire dreams, and to bring together dreamers of all sorts to unite in a common cause of a love of the fantastic, the wondrous, and the numinous.

    Thank you to everyone I met at Necronomicon 2015 for sowing the seeds for many new dreams to come.

  • Random-Ass Interview: Joseph S. Pulver Sr.


    Joe Pulver is the closest thing to an avatar of The King in Yellow that we have in this realm. His work is experimental, sharp as a fucking knife, and longs to expose the true faces found beneath the many colored masks.
    And this should be up by
    Necronomicon 2015, so hopefully I get to chat with the man in person, about stuff other than spirit gum, and beer.
    Check out his variety of collections,
    Blood will have its Season, and A House of Hollow Wounds.

    How would you feel if someone uses your likeness to create a comic book superhero called
    “The Pulverizer”?

    If the villains have cool uniforms (and names) (and KILLER superpowers) and are skullduggerous bastards that spit NASTY and vile, and I get the action figures and a copy of the DVD (if they make a film – and Eva Green, or Serena Williams, is my girlfriend in it), KOOL! !!

    In fact, a few years back a buddy of mine made a custom action figure of The Pulverizer. It’s pretty damn neat—looks like The “FF” Thing in a Deadhead t-shirt.

    Skittles or Starburst?

    No no—NO! Not a big candy fan, and when I do, it’s chocolate!!!!!!!!!!! Reese’s Pieces, yeah, I’d do that. Or, white chocolate… mmmm soft creamy—Yeah, white chocolate, yummy! !!

    If you could ask Robert W. Chambers one question, what would it be?

    Were there lost notes, sketches, outlines, drafts, plans for other King in Yellow works? And if allowed a second, do you think mine are of any merit?

    Spirit animal?

    I love night. I love birds. I was a nut for Archimedes in Disney’s The Sword in the Stone when I was a kid. For a hundred reasons, owl! Is there anything as beautiful as a Snowy Owl?


    Ever used spirit gum?

    Once. Was going to a Halloween party and we used it to glue a cheap fake beard on my girlfriend at the time.

    How do you feel about The Spirit?

    I’ve got it! Love Eisner and the character. The Octopus and Mister Carrion were great – wish I had come up w/ the name, Mister Carrion. Myabe i can still steal that? Dr. Carrion. Yeah, I just might.

    Ever seen Spirited Away?

    There was a bar, a hole-in-the-wall bikerjoint, it was next door to a used bookstore that closed at 9pm. Me, sitting there w/ my beer. A woman sat down. Bought me a beer. Looked in the bag of used books I had just purchased. She liked a bunch of them, told me about others she had that I would like. She had a scar on her knee and long legs, very nice legs, the voice of a seductress, and magical green eyes. She told me she had a bottle of whiskey w/ my name on it
    in her apartment…

    Wait, maybe it was swept away? ??

    Whatever it was, I wrote about in it my tale, “And this is where I go down in darkness”.

    Oops. Sorry, please forgive Mr. Stupid, I read that wrong. Thought it said “Been” spirited away.

    No, I have not seen it. Just checked the trailer, looks kool.

    Have you ever written a story and been utterly and completely surprised with it, both in where it went thematically, and in its characterization?

    Yes, my novel, “The Orphan Palace.” Going in, I knew where and how it ended and next to nothing else but the main character’s name.

    Who do you think would win in a fight, Shirley Jackson or Anne Rice?

    Shirley! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She has everything you could ever want, power, vision, darkness! She has created plague and bloodshed and delirium stretching its strange over heart and soul, Shirley could win this with her eyes closed and without even getting up from her

    Part 2 of my answer: Anne Rice is OK, but Shirley walks on water. ‘NUFF SAID!

    What’s the shortest turn around you’ve ever had on a story, from idea to completion of first draft?

    Not sure this really counts, but for a short short, 25:17. I put on John Zorn’s “Spillane” and wrote as it played, and the second it ended I was done (it helped that I knew Zorn’s composition well and knew what was coming). For a regular tale, say, 3000+ words, about 3 hours.

    You’re stuck on a desert island, and you can only bring 5 books. The catch is you have to share your reading with ancient lizard creatures.
    Anyway, which 5 books do you bring?

    World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time by Washburn, Major, and Fadiman

    The Complete E. E. Cummings Complete Poems, 1904-1962 (Revised, Corrected, and Expanded Edition)

    The Weird by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer/The Centipede Press Michael Cisco box set (Yes, I know that’s cheating, but you know, I’m not one for following the rules)

    Flicker by Theodore Rozsak

    The Complete Dramatic Works of Samuel Beckett

    And then I cry, as 5 is not enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh wait, there’s a koolass bookstore here and they’re having a SALE on CISCO and Laird and ANNA TAMBOUR and Alice Fulton and Jack O’Connell—! I’m saved!!!!!!!!!

    Favorite swear?

    Like most, most used is Fuck! But “Go to Hell” carries the most venom to me.

    You used to work in a record store? What are some of your favorite memories from that?

    Robert Fripp sitting there on a chair in the store playing Frippertronics. Meeting Clapton and having a beer w/ him. Getting backstages and meeting Herbie Handcock—what a great generous cat he is. Getting tickets to a very-early-in-his-career Stevie Ray Vaughan show (during a New York flood) and hanging out in the bus w/ him after.

    If trees could speak, what do you think they’d say?

    Stop allowing assbags to burn books – we died once, that’s enough! !! And it’s just plain WRONG!

    Do you think a horror writer could have a career if they didn’t write about anything supernatural in their stories?

    Yup. I see folks like Laird Barron easily writing crime and noir. With the vast talent in the field right now—Livia Llewellyn, Molly Tanzer, S.P. Miskowski, Paul Tremblay, Brian Evenson, there are many who could write anything that catches their interest.

    Favorite beer?

    When I used to drink, Beck’s. In a frosted mug, of course. And when I was near broke, well, Genny Cream Ale.

    Deep ones are crashing your party. One of them knows a lot about philosophy, does that make him a really deep Deep One?

    Nah. Makes him gone if he can’t shut up. It’s a party, not a lecture on Heidegger, or an overwrought exploration of the periodic table.

    Also, how do you deal with them if they try to steal the women to breed with?

    Please don’t fool w/ mine… or you’ll be on the menu at the sushi bar around the corner in the morning.

    What is it about crime mixed with horror that you like? What is it about the mix you don’t like (if there is any aspect of the commingling you don’t like)?

    Mix crime/noir and horror and wham-bam, the moon is in the gutter, and you’re alone. Now that is a dark passage that’s irresistible. To me, they are natural bedfellows, birds of a feather, born to be partners in lowdown skullduggery. The criminal carries around darkness and pain

    (schemes or fears or cravings, or a festering brew of them all) inside, look at Poe, or Caligari, or Jack the Ripper and Bloch’s Norman and Juliette, in them, we get the best of both worlds.

    Mixing crime and horror is like pizza (or Mike Griffin’s chili), I can’t get enough. I mean Goodis and Ligotti, they’re brothers, right? Laird and Ellroy, don’t they drink together and swap yarns?

    When it is done right, there’s nothing about mixing them I don’t admire.

    You ever known anybody who went really off the reservation?

    Sadly, yeah. Cat I knew (he was few years ahead of me in HS) came back from The Nam, part of

    him came back, became a small time contract killer. Wound up shived in a prison shower. He was in for attempted murder.

    Do you ever worry your mustache will gain sentience, and start feasting on the blood of the innocent?

    Never on innocents, they need protecting. But so many nasties and viles and trolls need culling, that could take lifetimes for the stache to properly equalize things.

    What projects you got coming out, Joe?

    Cassilda’s Song. An all-women tributes to Robert W. Chambers’ King in Yellow

    The Leaves of a Necronmonicon. A novel-length round robin that follows the travels of a Necronomicon for 120 years or so.

    I just edited the Necronomicon Providence 2015 round robin, The Doom That Came To Providence.

    I’m guest editing another all KIY issue of the “Lovecraft eZine”.

    And I have three more anthologies I’m working on at present.

    Also working on a new novel, and have 5 tales sold for upcoming anthologies next year. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things . . .

  • Random-Ass Interview: Laird Barron


    photo courtesy of JD Busch

    I’ve always been a fan of finding out about the creator behind the creations. Most of my favorite writers seem like people I’d love to read about, even if they didn’t write compelling stories. King, Barker, Crichton, Ketchum, Oates, and look, these are just the ones off the top of my head.
    The thing about Laird Barron is, he’s one of those writer’s who makes you want to write. Barron is one of those people that makes you want to create, and that goes out of his way to spread the word about other writers, and influences on his work.
    A lot of people may mistakenly assume what I’m talking about when I say “people I’d love to read about,” in reference to Barron means I’m talking about his years of dog racing, or the growing up in Alaska part. And here’s where I spill the beans: yeah, that’s certainly intriguing, but I don’t mean that. Oh, of course, when I first heard about his upbringing, his history, I read up on it. But, this research was in the same way I’d read up about any writer. I like to learn what people have done, what has informed their art.
    What I mean, specifically, is when you hear the man in an interview, he seems like a cool person, a good dude. He seems like a man who doesn’t let his reputation go to his head. And make no fucking mistake, Barron will soon be an even larger looming shadow over the horizon, being the genre giant he is.
    But fuck all the genre stuff. Fuck all the stuff about how he combines genres, and cross-blends, and how he has this sensibility, and how this, and that, and on, and on. No, I say, let’s strip all the genre bullshit for right now, and look at Laird Barron as a writer.
    Simply put, Laird Barron is an incredible writer, and it doesn’t matter worth a damn what he chooses to write about. He has a quality about his work, where you can pick any page at random, and usually find something wonderfully poetic, or frightening, or funny. The point is, the man can move you, and what more could you ask for in a writer?
    So, of course, I chose to ask him about swears,
    Hello Kitty, and made terrible Old Leech puns.

    Have you always considered yourself very science-minded, or is it something you have to work at for your stories?

    I’m an abstract thinker. Nuts and bolts, granular science frustrates me. The big stuff, where it transcends math and morphs into conceptual fantasy, is more my speed. I’m less interested in cold facts and more so in potentiality.

    Favorite pizza topping?

    Ground beef.

    Skis or a snowboard?

    Skis. I’m no good on either, but skis appeal to my sense of tradition.


    When each was in their primes, who do you think would win in a fight, Cormac McCarthy, or James Dickey?

    Two of my favorite writers. Both gave a lot of thought to violence. Dickey was a big, mean guy. His cameo in Deliverance? Holy shit. Menacing. Look at those enormous murderer’s hands. He’d be difficult. But maybe, maybe they’d belt some tequila and hold each other close to a Hank Williams song.

    Favorite Bond?

    Connery. Accept no substitutes.

    Favorite songs?

    “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” Blue Oyster Cult; “Buenos Tardes, Amigo” Ween; “Big Iron” Marty Robbins; “Sixteen Tons” Tennessee Ernie Ford; “Ruby” Roger Miller

    Favorite Bond songs?

    “Live and Let Die,” and “Nobody Does It Better”

    What if your doppelgänger was actually you from the future? What does that even, like, mean, man?

    Past selves are actually doubles of your future selves.

    If dogs could talk, what do you think they’d say?

    Nothing. They know too much. We’d be forced to silence them forever.

    goya saturn

    You seem to have a love of art? Goya, in particular. What drew you to art, and incorporating it into your stories?

    My mother was an artist. She had a lot of natural talent and I wish she’d been encouraged to cultivate it. Sometimes the trick in solving a problem is to look away and refocus— the answer is always there if you’re patient enough to reframe the question. Photography and painting, as examples, music would be another, distract my consciousness and permit my subconscious to do the heavy lifting.

    Would you be upset if I tried to get a campaign off the ground, which is essentially a series of rip-off Chuck Norris jokes, except with an emphasis on cosmic horror, with your name involved?

    No, but Chuck might be.

    Follow up: I heard Old Leech traveled to another dimension, after one time when you drank a bottle of expensive Scotch, and punched it in its slimy face, after it insulted your dancing abilities.
    Is this true?

    Old Leech would not insult my dancing abilities.

    Have you heard about the story in which the children of Cheech Marin have to smoke a lot of strange pot, and put on a rock show, to pay for their rent?
    It’s entitled “The Children of Old Cheech: Up in Ineffable Smoke.”

    Please send applicable royalties to my agent.

    Do you ever go to a gun range?


    Who do you think would win in a fight, Johnny Cope (from Hand of Glory) or Conrad Navarro (from The Light is the Darkness)?

    Navarro is an immortal. Lacking divine intervention or some supernatural edge from the Corning Sisters, Cope would be up Shit Creek if it came to blows. On the other hand, Jessica Mace would find a way to destroy both of them.

    You ever watched The X-Files? It occurred to me the other day most of that show was filmed in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver, specifically.

    I enjoyed “The X-Files,” particularly the monster-of-the-week episodes. One of those shows that isn’t very good (and the writers had no problem ripping off source material), yet succeeds due to a miraculous chemistry between the leads and to a lesser extent the supporting cast. It’s a classic.

    You ever thought about writing a fantasy novel at some point down the road?

    I trunked a grimdark fantasy novel sixteen years ago. Fantasy is an appealing genre. It is the mother of science fiction and horror and it kept me alive as a kid. I’ve begun working on a weird, fantastical alternate Earth. Paula Guran recently acquired a short story from that setting. I plan to write more. If these are well-received I’d like to take a swing at writing a novel based on characters and places in that universe.

    Would you ever put poems into a short story collection, and or release a collection of poetry?

    Comedy is hard. So is poetry. No to mixing poems into a short story collection. I’d need to get better at poetry before contemplating a book of them. I love the discipline and years ago wrote a significant number of poems. It improved my prose and sharpened how I think about prose.

    How do I know you aren’t in cahoots with your doppelgänger, and he isn’t actually answering this right now? In fact, how do I know he doesn’t handle all of your public appearance stuff?

    I might be the doppelganger’s doppelganger. It gets confusing for everyone.

    Do you believe in any cryptids, i.e. The Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, etc.?

    I’m skeptical regarding Bigfoot and Nessie. Deep sea cryptids and cryptids purported to dwell in jungle regions seem more plausible. I’m open to the notion of interdimensional entities— ghosts, or what we call ghosts. Reality is a band on a radio dial. Sometimes there’s overlap.

    Would you ever think about owning land, so you could change your title to: Laird Barron, Land Baron?

    My name pretty much means that already. I’ll take some land, though. A farmhouse near the Catskills would do fine.

    Do you think people will figure out I just use random questions to pad out my interviews, amidst completely legitimate, in fact not random at all questions?

    It’s more a question of whether they care.

    Better band, Foghat, or Styx?

    “Foghat,” all day.

    Favorite swear?

    When it comes to swearing I don’t play favorites.

    If you could be any monster, which would you be?

    A doppelganger.

    Wait, does that mean… uh, nevermind.

    Have you ever thought about writing a Western novel, with no horror or science fiction elements?

    I’ve considered writing in many genres. My grandfather was a failed novelist. Westerns were his favorite. If I do it, and I just might, it would be a sprawling epic in the spirit of Leone and Peckinpah, full of bloody revenge, heaving bosoms, and men who love gold and horses and guns and come to bad ends. And there’d be something fucking weird going on in the periphery. Sorry.

    Hello Kitty, or Teletubbies?

    Hello, Kitty.

    Why are most post it notes yellow? Is it because they’re easier to find? Or, because usually, you write completely mad things on them, and yellow is the color of madness.

    Post it notes originally came in pink, blue, and green. Yellow post-it notes were discovered bundled in variety packs several years later. No one knows the exact details of the yellow post-it note’s provenance. A detective specializing in industrial security reported that a miss-filed USPS pickup address matched an abandoned corporate office complex of Gale Research in Florida. The detective’s voluminous report was recorded on several hundred yellow post-it notes stuck to every available interior surface of a rusted out Airstream trailer. The detective is unavailable for comment.

    Damn. That’s heavy.

    You ever want to be in a rock band? I know I did/ still want to.

    No, that’s never been on my wish list.

    How the Hell do you write for twelve hours a day? Do you do breaks every couple of hours or so? Break down a twelve-hour writing day for us?

    Five or six hours a day goes into fiction. The rest is non-fiction and editing. It’s every day, week after week, month after month. Bukowski said to let it kill me, so I did.
    Maybe it’s best to frame my life (and I don’t separate writing from life) this way: You move somewhere remote and primitive. Every day, you look out your window and there’s a mountain. In the winter it has a snow cover. In the summer it doesn’t. The mountain is always there and after a while you become accustomed to its presence. After a longer while, you accept its presence. Sometimes a visitor will say, “My god! Look at that mountain!” And you won’t know what the fuck they are talking about for a second.

    Your blog has a lot of great advice for writers. Do you think the best advice for a writer is simply to write, and ultimately to do what works for each writer individually?

    Prescriptive advice may be fatal if swallowed. Best practices? Read widely, read critically. Everybody always lists the dead white guy gallery of literary inspiration. Take a look at what people are doing right now—Stephen Graham Jones, Livia Llewellyn, John Langan, Paul Tremblay, Jeff VanderMeer, Sofia Samatar, S.P Miskowski, Usman Malik, David Nickle, Victor LaValle, Kelly Link, Anna Tambour, Adam Nevill, Gemma Files, and Ian Rogers. And on and on.

    Write. Train your subconscious to provide material. You train it by feeding it and heeding even the craziest ideas that surface. Always be writing, even when you’re not. The youth I wasted makes me a better writer today. The hours you spend living and not bolted to a desk are important. Toughen up. If you’re serious, you’ll never be tough enough. Toughen up anyhow.

    Possibly, there are shortcuts to getting published. There isn’t a shortcut to writing anything worth a damn.

    Thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Anything coming out soon you want to plug, and or your doppelgänger wants to plug?

    My next collection, “Swift to Chase,” will appear in mid to late 2016. This one is largely set in Alaska. In addition to stories of ultra-ghouls, genius loci vampires, Black Dogs, and black magicians and their retinues of flat affect psychopaths, it gathers several tales in the Jessica Mace saga, including an original slasher novella about her parents during their senior year in high school. Meanwhile, keep an eye out over the next year for around seventeen new stories in anthologies such as “Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond”; “Autumn Cthulhu”; “I Am the Abyss”; “The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft,” and “Seize the Night.”

  • Random-Ass Interview: Stephen Graham Jones


    I’d love to be able to tell all of you I’ve read a huge amount of Stephen Graham Jones’ work. In the past, I might not have decided to interview an author whose work I haven’t read a lot of. But, see, sometimes all it takes is one story. I read this man’s story “The Darkest Part.” The story, which is ostensibly about a killer clown, is filled with such brilliant nightmare imagery, and out of all the stories in Ellen Datlow’s “Nightmare Carnival,” it is my favorite, and creeped me out the most.
    So, I tracked down SGJ, and asked him about soda, and movies. I snuck in some questions about the definition of horror fiction, too.
    Look, I made it a random format interview, I have to stick with it.
    Stephen’s collection After the People Lights Have Gone Off is currently available via amazon, and really, just google it, it’s all over.

    What’s your favorite episode of “The X-Files”?

    “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” easy. That’s the best 44:50 of television I’ve ever seen, really, and, of everything I’ve read and watched, it’s probably had the most influence. It’s a story that’s having fun with character, with form, and it’s still dipping from the well of the fantastic—and, most important, it’s got heart, it’s not afraid to be sentimental. I need to go watch it again now. I carry it on my phone at all times, in case.

    How would you define a horror story? Or, alternately, can everything be a horror story, if seen from the right angle?

    In bear-terms, which is how I try to understand most things, a horror story is “We fought the bear, and we either won or lost.” An up or down ending doesn’t make any difference, though I far prefer the up-endings, where there’s hope, rebirth, all that. To understand my bear-models, I would say that weird fiction, say, it’s more like “We couldn’t help it, we poked the bear, and then it stood ALL the way up and we had to try to comprehend it with our puny minds, and now we’ve got to back to our normal lives and try to live with the knowledge that this bear exists, and that we’re so small and insignificant.”

    Coke, or Pepsi?

    Pepsi all the way. Coke leaves my mouth hot, makes it hurt. I’ll only drink a Coke if I really, really need some caffiene. And then I’ll immediately regret it. And, I talked to someone recently who had been a nurse in a psychiatric center where some chemist or something for Coke was for a while, and she told me that he kept yelling about how cinnamon was the only difference between the two. I think. I wasn’t really listening as well as I should have, was writing a story in my head. And she could have been lying, too. No clue what city I was in for this, but it’s only been a couple of months.

    Your story from “Nightmare Carnival” fucked me up. You seem like a man who doesn’t like clowns. How do you feel about clowns, and have you ever had any nightmares about them?

    Clowns have never bothered me. I mean, unless they’ve got silver eyes, of course. Never had any clown nightmares, though. Most of my nightmares, they’re me moving through a crowd, and I’m not really in my right mind, I can’t feel my body, am just putting one foot in front of another, and the voices and lights are all smeary. Makes my heart beat hard, just thinking about that again. I hate it.

    Vinnie Jones or Tom Jones?

    I guess Tom? I don’t know who Vinnie Jones is.

    Favorite swear?

    I don’t cuss. If I’m reading something with profanity in it, and I have to say whatever word’s there, I always have a hard time not giggling when I say it.

    If you could be any monster, which kind would you be?

    Werewolf. When I was twelve, I did all the tricks the books said would get me there, too. Didn’t seem to work, though. Yet.

    Your style seems to be quite concise. Did it take you a while to learn your voice? Was there, for instance, a time when you longed to be more verbose, and ethereal?

    I used to want to be able to write like Kurt Vonnegut. But he’s way concise, and finally I figured I couldn’t be Vonnegut. Only person I’ve read who’s even close to Vonnegut—in delivery, tone, something—is Carlton Mellick III. Dude can write.

    Graham crackers, or Teddy Grahams?

    Crackers. Them and fishsticks are like eighty percent of my childhood.

    Do you have any writing rituals?

    Nope. Rituals are just a way to give yourself excuses to not write. “I don’t have this hat,” “I can’t do candles in the airport,” “the neighbors are too loud,” all that. Writing’s not something the world allows you to do. It’s something you can’t help doing. You shouldn’t have to trick yourself into it.

    What kind of music do you listen to when you write, or do you not listen to anything at all?

    Always listen. Right now, this instant, it’s Elton John and and Kiki Dee, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” But this isn’t really fiction writing. Earlier I was working on a novel. Think it was Dire Straits? But, it’s usually Bonnie Tyler or Skid Row or Don Williams—just all over the place, really. With a lot of Footloose and Motley Crue. But I always come back to country. Country’s what I cut my teeth on. It’s where my heart mostly is.

    Beer or liquor, or neither?

    Definitely not beer. Not much of a drinker, really. I mean, I can nurse a glass of wine if the situation insists. But it’s not pleasant. I have to close off a big part of my mind, then chant in my head that you can do this, you can do this. And, I’ve tried people’s ridiculous-expensive bourbon and all that, and can’t seem to understand the draw. Problem is, really? I like to write when I get home. And I care about fiction too much to allow myself to do it with anything messing my head up. My head’s plenty messed up already. Also, when I was in seventh grade one of my coaches, who was legit-crazy, he said if any of us ever drank and drove and hurt his family, he would come in through our windows at night and hold our arms down with his knees and cut out throats very, very slowly, staring into our eyes the whole time. And then he showed us the knife he’d do it with. So, I’m still pretty nervous about that. Anytime I’ve got car keys on me, I won’t even consider that glass of wine. I’ll sleep on the sidewalk before I’ll get behind the wheel with even a sip of alcohol in me. I want my throat to stay closed, I mean.

    If you could eat dinner with anyone either alive or dead, who would it be?

    I’d like to grab a burrito with Kevin Williamson in 1994, or whenever he wrote Scary Movie. Dude was firing on all cylinders. Some of the sparks, they’d cross the table, I suspect. Maybe burn me up, but it’d be worth it.

    If there’s a definitive difference between weird fiction and horror, is there such a thing as weird horror fiction, that would not be considered part of the bizarro genre?

    Definitely a difference between horror and the weird. See the bears explanation, earlier. But, yeah, there’s weird that draws more from horror than from fantasy or science fiction, definitely. Really, a lot of the time? When you accidentally make your horror-monster too unbeatable, the horror story you’re trying to write can slowly shift into weird fiction territory.

    Would you consider yourself a fast or slow writer?


    Does Joyce Carol Oates sort of scare you? I feel like you don’t wanna fuck with Joyce Carol Oates.

    I’d be more nervous around Neal Stephenson, I think.

    Do you have any advice for new writers?

    Read outside your chosen area. Write stories you don’t think you can write. Don’t pin all your hopes on one piece. Always be writing something new.

    How many movies do you watch a week?

    Two, three? This week I think I’ve watched the second Paul Blart, which I loved, want to buy, and . . . and it’s only Tuesday. About to go see the new Terminator at the theater. So that’ll be two. I’d guess I’ll watch one more before the week’s through. Probably something werewolf. I just watched Dog Soldiers, but I’m kind of wanting to watch it again. And there’s that new Simon Pegg action-movie thing at Redbox.

    Favorite animal?

    Thylacine. I get really sad every time it hits me that I’m probably never going to see one.

    Do you have anything special you do when creating a character outside of simply writing your story?

    It’s just diguise, disguise, camoflouge. Because they’re all me, more or less.

    Thank you for taking part in the interview. Do you have anything you’d like to mention coming out soon, or any final words you like to impart?

    Got my werewolf novel Mongrels out in May from William Morrow. Very excited about that. I feel like I’ve been kind of a fractured writer for a while, but Mongrels brings it all together for me. Next stories are out in . . . let me think: Ellen Datlow’s The Monstrous and Josh Viola’s Nightmares Unhinged and Ann Vandermeers The Bestiary. All horror. What else is there?