AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Grady Hendrix, Author of “The House That Love Built”

What were your thoughts when you first encountered the concept behind this anthology?

How do I get in? People are always reading my stories and asking, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” or looking at me and saying, “What the fuck is wrong with your face?” So when I heard there was a “What the Fuck Is That?” anthology, I figured it was my moment to shine.

With the theme in question, you could have taken your story in any number of different directions.  How did you come up with your particular idea?

I’m from South Carolina, so I find scientific concepts scary. I also enjoy writing about folks who work blue collar jobs. So writing a story about a long-haul trucker whose wives exhibit traits of wave-particle duality seemed like a natural fit. And, to be honest, I felt very validated that once you applied a concept in physics to human relationships the result was both morbid and disgusting.

What challenges if any did it pose having to incorporate a particular phrase into the flow of your story and making it seem perfectly natural?  

None at all. In fact, I have a hard time keeping the phrase “What the fuck is that?” out of my stories.

What kind of research did you have to do for your story?

Mostly, I read long-haul trucker message boards and industry magazines just to get the language down and to get a feel for their concerns. In the age of the internet and push-button research, there’s no reason your characters shouldn’t feel fully grounded in their world.

What else are you working on right now?  Anything coming out that you’d like to talk about?

My new novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, just came out in hardcover in May and did great, and it should be out in softcover soon. It also looks like the television show based on my first novel, Horrorstör, is marching toward the small screen and an inevitable avalanche of Emmys. A horror movie I co-wrote called Mohawk just wrapped earlier this summer. It’s set during the War of 1812 so it’s bound to be a big, big hit. Right now I’m mostly working on my new novel, which is all about a heavy metal band.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Gemma Files, Author of “Ghost Pressure”

What were your thoughts when you first encountered the concept behind this anthology?

I liked the utter freedom it offered, the idea that you could write about literally anything that might cause somebody to utter the titular exclamation. It also made me remember the word “grawlix,” which is always great.

With the theme in question, you could have taken your story in any number of different directions.  How did you come up with your particular idea?

I collect obscure folklore, and the story of the Lithuanian dream-demon known as a  Slogutė or Naktinėja was one of the most obscure things I’d ever come across—I think I’ve only ever found one reference to it, at least in English. But then I had the idea to marry it with a character and a situation I’d already come up with: Gavia Pratt, late of Blackpool, who comes to Toronto to manage a Hermes Life Quality palliative care service centre. From then on, the story sort of wrote itself.

What challenges if any did it pose having to incorporate a particular phrase into the flow of your story and making it seem perfectly natural?  

My characters tend to be fairly rough-mouthed, so it wasn’t as hard as you might think.

What kind of research did you have to do for your story?

I did a little bit of research on palliative care, mainly to figure out what sort of drugs they might be using with patients who were dying, and what the protocols around those cases might be. Getting a bit of jargon under your belt is always a good idea, especially when you’re writing from the POV of a person whose culture you don’t necessarily share.

What else are you working on right now?  Anything coming out that you’d like to talk about?

My most recent novel is Experimental Film (ChiZine Publications), a standalone horror story whose character details are very much drawn from my own life, and I’m very proud of the critical attention it’s received thus far. At the moment, I’m working on two different short stories for themed anthologies; later this year, I’m going to have to commit to writing my new novel. The hard-knock life of a professional writer.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: D. Thomas Minton, Author of “Now and Forever”

What were your thoughts when you first encountered the concept behind this anthology?

I thought the concept behind this anthology was funny and brilliant.  I wasn’t actually aware of the original meme so I went online and found it.  Seeing the original artwork that spawned “What the #@&% is that?” made it even more amusing.

With the theme in question, you could have taken your story in any number of different directions.  How did you come up with your particular idea?

I wrote “Now and Forever” before the I was aware of this anthology.  The original idea for this story actually goes back at least three years.  I don’t want to say too much about the story because that might ruin it for readers, but after many failed attempts to write “Now and Forever,” I finally found the right mix of psychology horror, primal emotion, and what I think is a very terrifying monster.  Once I had the right elements, “Now and Forever” pretty much wrote itself.

What challenges if any did it pose having to incorporate a particular phrase into the flow of your story and making it seem perfectly natural?  

The original draft of this story didn’t contain the line at all—I had written the story before I even knew about the anthology.  After seeing the original version of the story, Doug and John asked if I would be interested in tweaking it to fit the anthology.  “Now and Forever” fit the theme so well, the phrase was easy to incorporate.  I was particularly delighted because I thought it worked on many levels for this story—I think there are a lot of “What the #@&% is that?” moments in “Now and Forever,” and I actually hope my readers get to the end and yell it out.  If they do, I’ll consider this story a successful.

What kind of research did you have to do for your story?

“Now and Forever” didn’t take a lot of research.  It’s not a story full of scientific detail or theory.  Instead, it focuses on visceral emotions: fear, loneliness, guilt—a lot of guilt.  Basically the baseline human condition.  These don’t take a lot of research to write about.

What else are you working on right now?  Anything coming out that you’d like to talk about?

Last year was a slow year for short story writing because I focused on some longer pieces of fiction.  I’m finalizing the first book in an urban fantasy-steampunkish-thriller set in an alternate 1920s Eastern Europe that should be available around the end of the year.  I’ve got the second and third books in that series following behind it in the production queue, so that’s kept me pretty busy.  I’m excited about this series because it’s my first foray into longer storytelling.  You can keep up to date on book’s release, as well as its publishing journey, at my website: dthomasminton.com.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Desirina Boskovich, author of “Down in the Deep and the Dark”

What were your thoughts when you first encountered the concept behind this anthology?

I very much enjoyed the concept for the anthology, but initially I struggled to come up with an idea that felt like something I could pull off. I realized, as I explored my ideas — or lack thereof — that my approach to horror usually centers on the complex relationship we have with ourselves, and the self as menace and monster. I guess you could say what I typically find the most horrifying is the cruel and awful things people can convince themselves to do.

Where, for me the title of this anthology implied a reaction to some immediate event or overwhelming presence, not the slow burn of delusion I usually explore. I felt my story should include some physical, flesh-and-blood menace or monster.

So this story unlocked for me when I began to consider the ways it could be about both a tangible monster and an internal minefield.

With the theme in question, you could have taken your story in any number of different directions.  How did you come up with your particular idea?

I wanted to write something that was scary and a little cheesy and a little campy and maybe also pretty weird.

I also wanted to use humor as a sort of weapon — a way to break down the reader’s defenses and make the story initially feel kind of silly and lighthearted. Until things get serious. And then maybe you realize how dark and dangerous all of this has been all along.

Creepypasta was a big inspiration for me with this story too. I love how creepypasta represents this sort of postmodern folklore; the stories are often quite simple, but they tap into these very primal terrors. The kind of tale you would hear around a campfire, or a garbled but lingering impression of a scary late-night movie you saw when you were much too young to understand it. I wanted the monster at the heart of this story to fit into that tradition.

Actually, when I was writing this story, I was planning my own wedding. I was kind of hoping to get married in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, maybe even at a haunted hotel — alas, said plan was vetoed, so I wrote it into this story instead. My wedding did actually take place on Halloween, but there were no foul-mouthed grandmothers, cult-following groundskeepers, or disemboweled woodland creatures at the real-life wedding, I’m pleased to report.

What challenges if any did it pose having to incorporate a particular phrase into the flow of your story and making it seem perfectly natural?  

I came up with the line and the naughty grandma very early on in the planning of this story, so it was really just a question of where to deploy it to maximum effect.

Although, in my initial notes for the story, the line was, “What the tap-dancing Christ on a cracker is that?” At some point in the drafting, I apparently decided to make it even ruder.

What kind of research did you have to do for your story?

I read a lot of creepypasta. Does that count as research?

Also, a few visits to Eureka Springs, which is one of my favorite places and a genuine oasis of both joy and creepiness in the Ozarks. I highly recommend it.

What else are you working on right now?  Anything you have coming out that you’d like to talk about?

My story “The Voice in the Cornfield, the Word Made Flesh” should be out any day now from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. This is my first appearance in that magazine and I’m very excited about it!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Christopher Golden, Author of “The Bad Hour”

What were your thoughts when you first encountered the concept behind this anthology?

My first thought was, “That’s #@&%ing funny!” But as funny as the underlying idea was, I also thought it could prompt some really interesting, very dark tales.

With the theme in question, you could have taken your story in any number of different directions. How did you come up with your particular idea?

My favorite thing about the concept is the moment that prompts the response. Most writers have a bunch of story prompts in their notes, things they’re dying to get a chance to write, and I’m no exception. When I got the invite for this, I looked through my notes and stumbled on a reference to a bit of folklore I had completely forgotten about running across, but man, in my mind it was the perfect thing to prompt “What the #@&% is that?” It would work if I could build the right characters and circumstances around that bit of folklore. The best thing about an anthology like this is how the pieces come together. The reference in my notes had no context. It was just this bit of folklore. Without this anthology, I’d never have written this story, never come up with this character or this scenario.

What challenges if any did it pose having to incorporate a particular phrase into the flow of your story and making it seem perfectly natural?

None at all, for me. When you’re spinning the story to be built around getting to that line, that’s half the fun!

What kind of research did you have to do for your story?

A little bit of folkloric research that I won’t give away because it’s in the story, and some conversation with a friend who is an Iraq war vet, because you never want to approach the topic without respect.

What else are you working on right now? Anything coming out that you’d like to talk about?

I’ve edited an anthology for Titan called Dark Cities. My next novel is called Ararat, and it will be published in April 2017, and I can’t wait until I’m able to talk about it. Meanwhile, I’m still writing the Baltimore and Joe Golem: Occult Detective series for Dark Horse with Mike Mignola.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Alan Dean Foster, Author of “Castleweep”

What were your thoughts when you first encountered the concept behind this anthology?

What the #@&% am I going to write?  Seriously, I realized I needed an idea that was not a casual response, but one that incorporated at least one situation where a character would genuinely have that response to a situation, and that it needed to grow out of the storyline and not simply be stuck in for purposes of satisfying the anthology’s theme.

With the theme in question, you could have taken your story in any number of different directions.  How did you come up with your particular idea?

The story combines experiences I had in two different locations in Africa.  One is ominous enough.  Moving it to the other, far more isolated locale allowed me to heighten the tension and fear.  The second locale is also so remote that it greatly enhances the verisimilitude of the plot.

What challenges if any did it pose having to incorporate a particular phrase into the flow of your story and making it seem perfectly natural?  

Since people visiting the first locale often have that exact kind of reaction upon walking through it, the naturalness of the phraseology was already there for me.

What kind of research did you have to do for your story?

Having previously been in both places, the necessary research had already been accomplished.  Writing the story became a matter of combining the two and adding in the fantasy element.

What else are you working on right now?  Anything coming out that you’d like to talk about?

By the Throat, a new Pip & Flinx novel, will be published by Del Rey next year.  The following year will see Reliquary, which is standalone SF, also from Del Rey.  The fantasy novel Madrenga is at a publisher, and I recently finished Secretions, a standalone Commonwealth novel.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Adam-Troy Castro, Author of “Framing Mortensen”

What were your thoughts when you first encountered the concept behind this anthology?

What came to mind immediately was the habitual exclamation of EC horror comic protagonists, whenever they encountered something horrific: “Good Lord! GASP! *Choke*!”

With the theme in question, you could have taken your story in any number of different directions.  How did you come up with your particular idea?

The image [that inspired the anthology] immediately declared the kind of story I would write: something campy-macabre, building up to just desserts. It just naturally followed that my evil protagonist would be a rich guy, acting out of innate malice, and that the biter would just naturally make a critical error and sooner or later get bitten himself.

What challenges if any did it pose having to incorporate a particular phrase into the flow of your story and making it seem perfectly natural?  

As of this writing, I have only read two of the contributions by my fellow contributors, and must report that as a result I wonder if the great number treated the phrase the way I did, as a withheld reward that would not be paid off until the narrative reached its climactic moment. I briefly considered making it the very first phrase in the story, or using it a dozen times, or introducing a character who said nothing else, thus forcing the other participant in the dialogue to carry more than his fair portion of the exposition – but here, at least, function dictated form.

What else are you working on right now?  Anything you have coming out that you’d like to talk about?

Upcoming projects, while they exist, are still embargoed as of this writing, the ultimate publication details so nebulous that I cannot report on them even given the pub lag time of this interview. Sorry. But at this moment, I can report that you should be able to find, hot off the presses, the final volume in my middle-grade Gustav Gloom series, Gustav Gloom and the Castle of Fear, in which Gustav Gloom and Fernie What finally have their big showdown with the saga’s ultimate villain, the evil Lord Obsidian.

« go back