Tim McGregor is the author of Wasps in the Ice Cream, Taboo in Four Colors, and Lure. A former screenwriter and active HWA member, Tim lives in Toronto with his wife and kids. And a ghost too, but we don’t talk about her.
What first attracted you to horror writing?
I was crazy about monsters since I was a little kid, so the path to horror writing would have been initially via monster comics and cartoons. In grade school, I discovered those Scholastic kid-friendly adaptations of classics like The Phantom of the Opera and Frankenstein, which I ate up. My Dad loved spooky books so there were always horror paperbacks lying around. I can still remember the thrill of reading Stephen King for the first time. Night Shift melted my little brain!
What is your most notable work?
Not sure I can be objective enough to answer that, but it might be my new release, Wasps in the Ice Cream. It had a bumpy ride as it was orphaned a few weeks before its original release when the publisher shut down. Thankfully, it found a new home with Raw Dog Screaming Press, and the response has been absolutely amazing. Everyone loves a comeback story, right? But I have to give props to Raw Dog, they did a fantastic job getting ARCs out and promoting this book. Blew me away.
What are you working on now?
Polishing up two projects at the moment. One is a riff on a horror classic that was, not only a lot of fun to write, but turned out better than I hoped. The other one is a World War 2 thriller that I’m happy with but may be a bit problematic. I’ll need to let that one stew a bit longer.
What is your writing routine?
Mornings and evenings. The routine clicked into place because of the usual life stuff like the day job and having kids. But I like that early quiet time before anyone else gets up. It’s easier to be productive when I know there won’t be phone calls or a knock at the door. Then back at it in the evening after the usual catastrophe of dinner and haranguing the kids about homework. This work session is a little more chill. Mood music and a beer, maybe a candle to conjure a spirit.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
There’s quite a few, because there are a lot of great people in our little community. I’ve always admired Brian Keene for his inclusion and willingness to call out bullshit in this business. I adore Catherine McCarthy for her storytelling and prose. She’s also a great friend. I love Eric LaRocca for the disturbing things he puts in my brain and Hailey Piper for her imagination. Also, Sadie Hartmann. Her passion and advocacy for this genre makes her a star in my book.
Do you prefer all-out gore or psychological chills?
I prefer psychological chills over all-out gore in general, but I do love a good gory moment. Gore is like spice. Too much of it and you burn your taste buds, but if it’s done judiciously, a dash of gore can be so effective.
Why should people read your work?
How to answer that without sounding like a smug egotist? I don’t write a lot of gore or splatter, so fans of that can look elsewhere. I think I write briskly-paced horror stories with flawed characters who make bad choices. And demented love stories. I seem to be writing a lot of those lately. Also, goats. The last book I wrote had a goat in it, so I’ve decided that every book from here on out will have a goat in it. If a reader was curious, I’d suggest trying Taboo in Four Colors (Cemetery Gates). It’s a novella, it hits most of my obsessions in horror and highlights how stories are an essential human need. No goats, but there is a crow.
Recommend a book
The last book that blew me away was actually nonfiction. Charlotte Gordon’s Romantic Outlaws is a dual biography of Mary Shelley and her mother, the groundbreaking writer, Mary Wollstonecraft. A very compelling account of two fascinating people. Did you know Mary Wollstonecraft went to Paris during the height of the French Revolution? She was there when they guillotined Louis XVI and later walked the abandoned halls of Versailles. Crazy! On the fiction side, I fell head over heels for Ottessa Moshfegh’s Lapvona. It’s a cruel book about stupid, selfish people and I can’t stop thinking about it.