What first attracted you to horror writing?
Story telling and imagination were close at hand in my youth. I loved old time spooky radio shows, and the illustrated Eerie and Creepy magazines, and The Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits, all of which in some form or other embodied short stories. But as to how I came to dip my pen in the otherworldly ink, well, I’d say I was following my brother Jeffrey’s lead. We had drawn our own comic books, and the complex fantastical realms we jointly created in our play were like on-going stories, but he was the first to make the actual leap to fiction. Wanting to be like my brilliant big brother, I followed.
I guess I would have to say Westermead, my collection of stories set in a moody, mystical realm of ghosts and moors, and folksy magic. While I’m very fond of my books that take place in eighteenth and nineteenth century New England (and Britain), I think that the poignancy and richness of Westermead, with its inhabitants, traditions, lore and even recipes remains close to my heart.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on Urn and Willow, another collection of ghostly short stories (set in New England’s past) for Dark Regions Press. It will be my fourth book for Joe Morey’s wonderful publishing outfit. I’ve just finished a tale for Netbound Publishing’s next anthology in which all the short stories are based on (or inspired by) supposedly true cases of haunting.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
As far as living folks go, my brother Jeffrey – of course – along with Willum Pugmire, Jeff VanderMeer, William Peter Blatty, Thomas Harris, Ramsey Campbell, John Carpenter, the Brothers Quay, Alejandro Amenabar, Daniel McGachey, Paul Tremblay. Visual artists like Joel Peter Witkin, Peterio, and Sarachmet (while her lovely work might not readily be called horror, it certainly does evoke the ghostly). The works of Robin Spriggs sound fascinating – I’ve got to get a hold of some of his books. Shame on me if I’ve failed to mention other brilliant and worthy horror folk out there – I’m years behind on reading, and watching movies.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
There’s room for both. I wouldn’t want to limit the colours in the horror paint-box to only certain shades. It all comes down to who’s painting with blood. If it’s Thomas Harris or Robert Rodriguez, or some other skilled author or filmmaker, I approve. If it’s just some sophomoric book or movie that takes mean-spirited glee from its gore, well, I’m not fond of that. There are dark works of great merit like Taxi Driver and Kubrick’s The Shining that artfully make use of both psychology and gore.
Why should people read your work?
Because I’m earnest about carrying on the good old fashioned tradition of telling ghost stories, and in this technology-crazed, rapid-paced, plastic culture we need more ghost stories.
Recommend a book.
The superb Beyond the Door by Jeffrey Thomas.