TIH 452: Clay McLeod Chapman on Ghost Eaters, What Is A Ghost, and Why Horror

TIH 452: Clay McLeod Chapman on Ghost Eaters, What Is A Ghost, and Why Horror

In this podcast Clay McLeod Chapman talks about Ghost Eaters, what a ghost is, why he likes horror, and much more.

About Clay McLeod Chapman

Clay McLeod Chapman is the author of the novels Whisper Down the Lane, The Remaking, and miss corpus, short story collections nothing untoward, commencement and rest area, as well as The Tribe middlegrade series: Homeroom Headhunters, Camp Cannibal and Academic Assassins. Ghost Eaters, a new supernatural horror novel, hits shelves September 20, 2022 from Quirk Books, and it will scare the pants off you.

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Michael David Wilson 0:07

Welcome to This is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co host, Bob Pastorella We chat with masters of horror, about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now, today's guest is clay McLeod Chapman is the author of whisper down the lane, the remaking Miss corpus. And as of next month, on September the 28th, you will be releasing ghost eaters, a new supernatural horror novel is absolutely fantastic. And ghosty is something that we talk quite a bit about, in this particular part of the conversation because this is a three parter. And in this episode, we also delve into the supernatural. We delve into what is a ghost? We talk about why we write horror, why we read horror, why we consume horror. So a lot of interesting things in this episode. Now right now I am in a bit of a difficult situation. And I'm urging any of you if you've been thinking about becoming a Patreon of This Is Horror, to please consider becoming a Patreon today. Because I know that there are a lot of people who listen to the podcast. And if everyone who is a regular listener, pledges at the minimum level of free dollars, I will avoid a very difficult situation that I'm in right now. I'm sorry that I'm being a little bit obscure or very obscure in terms of the details and what's going on, but that's sort of all I can say at the moment. I'd really appreciate your support if at all possible. And there are a number of benefits to being at This Is Horror Podcast Patreon. You get early bird access to each and every episode. We've got great conversations coming up with Paul Tremblay with Michael J side Linda Brian Asman with Tyler Jones and soon with the likes of Gemma or more on Jonathan Jan's. You also get to submit questions to each and every interviewee. We're going to be chatting with Ron or Kelly, very, very soon indeed. And you get exclusive podcasts, including the patrons only q&a sessions, story unboxed, and a video cast on camera off record. So if that sounds good, if you're a regular listener and you want to get a little bit more or you just want to say thank you and help me out in this time of need, then do head over to patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. And if there's anything you want from the podcast, if there's anything that I can do for you, then let me know tweet me at This Is Horror, or get in touch Michael at this is horror.co.uk. And I've also got a few other services for those who are interested in supporting me but perhaps Patreon isn't the fit for you. I do freelance editing you can find out a little about that Michael David wilson.co.uk forward slash editing. And of course you can also advertise on This Is Horror Podcast. I speak in which it is time for a little bit of an advert break.

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Michael David Wilson 5:41

Okay, well with that said, Here it is. It's part two of the conversation with Clay McLeod Chapman. I wanted to continue talking about ghost eaters and some of the themes in Ghost eaters. And I know to kick off, you want said, I can't say that I believe in ghosts. But that doesn't stop me from seeing them everywhere. Let's start with that.

Clay McLeod Chapman 6:14

Darn tootin I mean, I don't know I live. I think I live a pretty agnostic life. Where, you know, I'm not, you know, I don't I don't know if I believe I don't believe in the supernatural. I don't I religion has not found its way into my life in any substantive way. But I'm just so enamored with it. With religion, with the supernatural with, with the idea of there being something kind of outside of our purview of our, you know, Field Division. I think that has to do a lot with belief systems, that like, you know, maybe because I just don't believe, like, I'm so kind of enamored with the idea, like other people lay down their lives for, for their God for you know, their belief in ghosts, like, like, I'm just, you know, I'm, I tend not to, I don't have anything in my life. I'm an empty, empty person. I have love for my family. And I it's very palpable, it's right there in front of me, and I would do anything for my children. But then I think of like, the thing outside of myself, and I don't know if I have it. Which means I'm ready. And you know, waiting for a spiritual awakening of some sort. But like, you know, I'm kind of cramming Santa Claus ghosts, and God all into one conversation topic here. But like, you know, I want to, I don't believe in any of these things. But God, wouldn't it be amazing if they did exist? Like, Wouldn't that just be? Wouldn't that make life me, like, so much more interesting. I want to believe in ghosts, I want to believe there's something there. And if I'm alone in a room, and the lights are turned off, my imagination will manifest these things. Because that's just that's far more interesting, then. Then the truth, you know, I think okay, I think ultimately what it is, I spent all of my childhood terrified of ghosts. Like, there were ghosts, under my bed in my closet. Like I was just so cool. I had night terrors as kid like, I was just absolutely, like, I had the kind of a typical traumatic childhood where monsters were just everywhere. And I spent all of my intellectual childhood, like discrediting them. Like, the only way I could stop from believing there were monsters under my bed or in my closet, was to discredit them. So it'd be like, well, Jason Vorhees can't be in my closet because it's not Friday the 13th Well, Freddy Krueger can't be in my dreams because this isn't Elm Street. Like that was the that was the kind of like, oh, you dispel the, the fear because because of XY and Z. But now as an adult, I've like discredited all of my, my, the things that terrified me as a kid, and that's just so boring. It's so dull now. And like, I don't know, maybe I just want to be in a room and be like, is that a ghost over there? It could be a ghost. Maybe it is the ghost. Maybe that is Freddy Krueger can pretty still come after? Like a, an adult in their 40s I don't know. But uh, it's worth a shot. It doesn't kill anyone over the age of like 17 damage, like, like, I need to kind of back catalogue like all the nightmare and I'm streets but has the he kills a few adults, right? Maybe he kills the parents. So yeah, nevermind, he kills parents? Or does he?

Michael David Wilson 10:37

Know is the question

Bob Pastorella 10:43

I honestly can't remember. I mean, it's been it's been a minute since I had the the last, you know, Nightmare on Elm Street marathon. And I honestly don't remember. I mean, because it's one of those shows that the kills obviously, is one of those series franchises that kills obviously make a big impression on you. But really, it's it's Friday, you know? So you, you kind of you kind of forget things you remember his his his lines, you know, the iconic lines that that that he brought to the screen, but I mean this like and, you know, some of the iconic kills but who did kill this? Like, it really? I don't know, it almost didn't doesn't matter. You know, I'd say saying that, but that's what he does. You know?

Clay McLeod Chapman 11:36

Totally, totally. Like it's a it's just so funny how you just you kind of I don't know, you forget that. I mean, okay, I remember in Nightmare on Elm Street one. There's the final spoiler alert. There's the final scene where the mother Nancy's mother gets, like, vacuumed back into there, through her door. You know, in that final kind of little Stinger at the end. And she was a parent. I mean, maybe he kills Nancy's father and three. I don't know it's I'm in the weeds in this this this kind of theory, but he doesn't kill adults. They need to kill more. He needs to kind of go beyond the kids and like, deal with with the rest of us.

Michael David Wilson 12:27

Yeah, well, while you're joking about this, I'm trying to think like, had somebody killed. My memory is is blanking on Yeah.

Clay McLeod Chapman 12:41

It's really weird. He I don't think he does. I mean, I'm sure he does. Like, apparently like he probably kills. He caught he kills John Saxon. I think maybe he kills 99. But no, like their liver. There's not enough. Not enough adult carnage in these movies.

Michael David Wilson 13:00

Yeah, so what you're saying is you need a reboot to anything he just exclusively dares after adults and they maybe just jumps into an old people's home and terrorizes their kids like right. I'm gonna make

Clay McLeod Chapman 13:19

it Yeah, I mean, yeah,

Bob Pastorella 13:21

I was gonna say the adults. You know, they're, they're not innocent. They they killed Freddy. Yeah, in a way, it's almost like Freddie's the hero, you know? Unless Unless Unless you're talking about the the remake with the you know, with the with Haley playing. Freddie, which I mean was was good, but you know, hey, let's let's, there's a difference between a child murderer or a pedophile? Sorry, but yeah.

Clay McLeod Chapman 13:54

Yeah. Yeah, I don't I mean, I'm not gonna I always feel bad. I don't want to talk poorly about the dead but uh, like I don't know for some reason I was not I was not a fan of the the remake. But yeah. What can you do?

Michael David Wilson 14:12

More? I wonder. So we've been talking about ghosts. I wonder. I mean, what is a ghost to you? And we can take that definition as widely as possible. So it doesn't have to be you know, a supernatural ghosts, but it can be things from the past that are haunting us. So if you'd use it to distill what is a ghost, how would you begin to answer that?

Clay McLeod Chapman 14:42

I mean, I love I do love the kind of standard kind of boilerplate textbook definition of a ghost of like, a ghost is a spiritual entity, like a lingering resonance of someone who has passed on On from this world to the next but but it lingers, it's like kind of stuck in a stasis point, like it can't. It either refuses to let go or it can't let go of a particular part of its life, that that, you know, routes it to a house routes it to some kind of personal object or item that that that kind of resonated for them in their life. Yeah, I really think that like it's the it's the, it's the parts of us that are unwilling to let go of our lives and remain here in some kind of stasis point that is either beyond you know, beyond our own kind of perception or beyond our realm of sensory experience, but it's still there it lingers in that that kind of liminal space. Ghosts or trauma ghosts are the things we can't can't forgive ourselves for, like, I don't know, like, it's it's regret. It's everything. And it's spooky sheets.

Michael David Wilson 16:15

Do you have any things from your past that still haunt you today?

Clay McLeod Chapman 16:21

Oh, my God. Yeah, you totally sweet Jesus. You know, I think if you live in regret, which I tend to do. Every day is hard. Everything haunts you. Like I'm haunted by mistakes I've made I've haunted by choices I've made, you know, like, I think like, regret is just a kind of pop psychology version of ghosts, maybe supernatural and more kind of cerebral intellectual, like, I don't know, like, I'm, I think that if you are if you live in your imagination as well. The world is populated, but it's like teeming with ghosts. Because it's your, I think you're incapable of not seeing the world through this, this kind of prism of everything that has come before, and potentially everything that has yet to come after. Um, I don't know, like, the world is a haunted place. Like, I grew up down south. And down south, the world is just kind of like, like, there are ghosts everywhere. Because you're always walking on somebody's grave. That oral tradition is is is steeped in, in kind of the the notion of the supernatural and things beyond our own kind of realm of perception. And I love that I love it. It's so you know, I feel so boring, because like, I I'm boring. But like, I want to live in a world where all of these things exist. And I guess I imagine that world, imagine myself in that world or populate the world I live in inside my head with these things because I myself, don't don't experience them. And I include faith in that I include. I include any kind of sense of spiritualism or spirituality. Like I want to be, but I'm just not, because I just can't believe it.

Michael David Wilson 18:43

Yeah, yeah. Well, I don't think that makes you boring. And there are so many interesting things, and magic kind of within the world. The I mean, we can experience that without religion without spirituality.

Clay McLeod Chapman 19:01

Yeah, but it's so I mean, it's so amazing, like, you know, you step into a church, like a gaudy church and it's just so ordered, like, not even a gaudy turd. Like just like, There's something so ornate and beautiful and handcrafted to these these, these places that like, I don't know, I don't have a larger point here beyond like, I just feel like you know, I see the world pragmatically. But like, I just want that. I want that other. I want there to be ghosts. I'm going to do this interview, and then tomorrow, I'm gonna die. And then I'm going to find I'm going to be I'm going to haunt you guys because this was the this was like the moment where I found I became Patrick Swayze.

Michael David Wilson 19:49

Yeah, well, I mean, if you do that, then you'll be given me my first experience with ghosts and then I'll come out after you know being agnostics slash atheists depending on you know what I feel like that day when I get out of bed and I'll be like no clay Chapman was right God dammit. And he he will get the fuck off out of my apartment until I spread the word that ghosts are real it's actually quite annoying and says only does and then just like puts on shows reading bits from his books to me that's a dodgy I fuckin knife the other day

Clay McLeod Chapman 20:31

that would be that would be the worst kind of ghost a ghost that reads you like his there writing? Yeah, we do another chapter from my my unpublished memories.

Michael David Wilson 20:43

At least Europe published right. But yeah, what if someone haunts me? And it's like, well you run this as already you've edited some things to know review my unpublished manuscript now you're trying to make breakfast right? You do and

Clay McLeod Chapman 20:59

oh my gosh, okay. Imagine a story about an editor who a horror editor who like you know, edits, anthologies, edits, other writers work and then like, rejects this one writer and that one writer ends up oh, God, this is awful, committing suicide or having an accident but ends up dying and comes to haunt this editor. And the haunting is basically reading their their work to this editor for the rest of their lives. That would be That's terrifying. Oh,

Michael David Wilson 21:35

my God.

Clay McLeod Chapman 21:39

Do you do to believe in ghosts? Do you believe in the supernatural?

Michael David Wilson 21:44

I believe in science, I believe in reality. I haven't. I mostly haven't experienced anything that would seem to be supernatural. But I mean, there's a lot of things that I haven't experienced. And it doesn't mean that they're not true. But I mean, I, on the basis of my experience thus far, there's been nothing that has led me to believe that there are ghosts or the supernatural but I, I feel that I'm like you and I'm, like Adam Neville, in the sense that I want to believe it would be so exciting. It would add another layer to life, I suppose if they weren't gonna suffer was the supernatural. Yeah, or, you know, the rest of my family in terms of my parents and siblings, they believe in that kind of thing. But I just, I haven't had a personal experience that led me to believe in a ghost. There was one thing in my childhood, that that was difficult, impossible to explain at the time, which was when me and my mother were driving back from soccer practice. And there was this world war two silent aircraft that we both saw, and it was just plummeting, kind of down, down and it skimmed this parked vehicle, and then it just disappeared. And then later, yeah, we we found out that this was an area where like a number of like aircrafts had been shot down during the war. Now you may be thinking, Okay, you said you've experienced anything supernatural, that sounds pretty fucking supernatural to me. But the way that I kind of look at this one isolated incident is like, I mean, seeing that something happened in that area. We could have read up on it earlier in that day. And the power of the mind is, is powerful. So when my mother said to me, you know, did, did you see that silent? Aircraft just plummet? It could have created a false image, a false memory, either. This is the problem, though, isn't it? It's like, if if we're agnostic or atheist, then even if we experience something, we later try and justify why it didn't actually happen, or why it wasn't real. But I will say like, you know, recently I've particularly because I'm going through a pretty difficult time at the moment I've been open to it. experience in something spirit Hill. And yeah, I've even tried to pray. But it's difficult to pray sincerely, isn't it when you're like, well, Dear God, I don't particularly think exists. And I'm not sure which god of the 1000s I'm praying to. However, if any of you want to pick up the school, I would quite like to see something go to have some sort of experience. And I just, I just haven't. But I mean, on on the topic of God, which I guess this is 10 generally talking about, I mean, I think if there is a God, then they're going to be vastly different to any of the gods that are portrayed in organized religion, particularly because most of the organized religions say, Oh, well, if you don't accept our religion, or our God, then then that's it. And I just don't think particularly if we're talking about a loving God, that they're going to not accept people of different faiths or from different backgrounds who are essentially good people did it feels like a contradiction. And if they're not a loving God, then I mean, what's the point of getting to know them? So I don't know. That's certainly a little bit circuitous and in a very bloated way of of answering your question, but I have had nothing that has led me to believe in the supernatural, despite me telling you about a silent aircraft that

the ground but is it? Yeah, that was a long time ago now. And I think the, the fervor something is from your, from, from your reality, the more unreal, it almost becomes. So who knows, maybe if there is like a divine being, they're listening to the podcast, I'd like to think that they do. And they've heard this, and they're like, fuck me. You didn't You didn't pay attention to that aircraft? Well, we are gonna send you something special tonight. And, yeah, I'll let you know, I'll let you know if I experience anything else.

Bob Pastorella 27:29

I don't, I'm the same way I understand the power of imagination. And what it what it's capable of doing. The only thing that I've ever experienced is that it's, it's something that I'm still wrestling with trying to find a way to write about it, mainly because it's something that really happened and I'm one of the people one of the people involved, has asked me not to, which is, you know, at the same time, you know, if you if you asked him if he believed in ghosts, he'd be like, Fuck, no. But, but at the same time, also, he would not go upstairs in his own house. So that you know, something that kind of leads to being knows something real or not believe in the power of the imagination and believe the power of memory and believe how memory can warp and change based upon how you feel about things. And sometimes those memories can become so ingrained and so powerful, even in their warped state that they can they can become a kind of like almost almost a reality that this actually is something that that the would these events happen the way I remember them that they happen you know, but the power of the imagination combined with you know, I've always suffered tonight Terrence, I've been fascinated with the paranormal and the supernatural and strange occurrences, my whole life. And, but when it comes down to it, I don't believe and also don't don't really care if that's just something that I used to keep myself you know, hey, it's not real. You know, it can't be real, you know, to protect myself. I feel like that. It you know, that could be a cop out, but, you know, for the most part, it's, it's it's almost like you have to experience it yourself. You know? Yeah, I have freaked myself out. Over stuff. That's so Mondaine than that, you know, jump back and then you're like, oh, that's just that's just a door. Okay, cool. You know, but yeah, the power of your of your mind, I think creates creates a lot of stuff.

Clay McLeod Chapman 30:19

Yeah. Um, so why horror, we are men of science, we are practical, pragmatic human beings. And yet we're, we're like, entrenching ourselves and either reading or writing about ghosts. I mean, like, like, it's like, We're doing this to ourselves, we're actively choosing this as the the form of entertainment or enrichment. And why why are we doing that to ourselves, if we don't believe?

Michael David Wilson 30:54

Well, it's an interesting question. And, of course, as we all know, I mean, the scope of horror is far beyond just the supernatural. You only have to look at work by the likes of Jack Ketchum to see that so there certainly is horror without the supernatural. And I think horror in Orleans kind of diverse glory is fantastic. But in terms of just why horror, specifically, I think in a way, we like to scare ourselves on the page, whether through writing, or through reading. So we've almost exercise that negativity, and got it out so we can be reasonable people within reality. And perhaps I haven't drank enough coffee to make this point as clearly as I'd like to. But I've often spoke to people about how it's fairly common to meet people who love horror, and or love heavy metal. And they're some of the nicest, kindest, most giving people you will ever meet. And I think some of that has to do with with getting all the aggression, and the negativity and the anger out on the page. So now, there's nothing left. Like I say, we're exercising again.

Clay McLeod Chapman 32:32

Yeah. So there's certainly the catharsis of writing.

Michael David Wilson 32:38

Yeah, yeah, I think as well, in terms of why horror, I mean, because it's such, it's such a thrill. It's an adrenaline rush. It's fun to be scared. But we are allowing ourselves to experience the excitement of being scared, but we've the safe kind of wolves were experienced experiencing it within a safe environment. And I think as well, I mean, if you're fascinated by something, then it's interesting to explore it and to understand it. I mean, why Hooray you you've asked the question that we've been trying to answer for nearly a decade and 500 episodes on This Is Horror. And that is what it's all about.

Clay McLeod Chapman 33:31

Yeah, yeah. Um, but the will keep pursuing

Michael David Wilson 33:38

you, you kind of your Jansing us Jonathan Jansen searches where, you know, the interview is taking place, and then you flip the tables on us. You have a question? Why? Hora? Goodness,

Clay McLeod Chapman 33:52

where were you on the night of June 13? Yeah, yeah.

Michael David Wilson 33:57

Well, I'm not gonna answer that without a lawyer present.

Bob Pastorella 34:05

But, I mean, to echo what Mike was saying it's horizen emotion. And we had to have empathy. And I think that, as a writer, you throw out you throw all that empathy on the page. And sometimes it's, it's sometimes it's sad. Sometimes it's happy, and sometimes it's it's anger and rage. But if you do it, if you do it on a regular basis, then when you create the thrills, the things that make people's hearts feel like they're going to stop in their chest. And then they come back for more because they're feeling they're feeling the same thing. There's, there's some there's empathy happening, it's and then like what Mike was saying about how I'm wearing nicest people, you know, it's the same thing as you know, the, you know, metal metal heads, you know, you listen to Slayer, and you're gonna think that Tom Araya is the most angry guy in the world and I'm, I'm, I'm willing to bet he can get pretty damn angry. But I've seen I've seen him be interviewed by two young girls who were probably maybe nine and 10 years old. And he's being very genuine and very nice and very polite. And it was, it's like the cutest thing I've ever seen in my entire life, you know? And he's just and he's just genuinely happy to be there. And you know it because he because he put it down on the stage. Yeah. So you know, the page for us is the stage. Well, except for you like, because you could probably do it on the on the stage. You have you performed. So there's probably some some release there. I think that release part is important. And I think the release is also important for the, for the audience, the reader, your viewer, they get a release out of it.

Clay McLeod Chapman 36:12

Yeah, no, I think that's true. Yeah, I love the idea of it being kind of a that we're all coming to horror, whether it's as the people who are creating it, or the people who are imbibing it, too. We're yearning for that release or kind of tapping into that that kind of emotional core. Yeah, it's it's a, it feels very cathartic, like I love I love the release, but that it can feel almost commune on its own way.

Michael David Wilson 36:52

We're jumping back to go Steve Peters. I mean, this is set in Richmond, Virginia, which is such a perfect setting for a horror story. But I wonder, what was some of the specific elements that led to you saying the story here?

Clay McLeod Chapman 37:12

Oh, man, here we go. I am, I feel like, I'm gonna get in trouble with my Richmond bonafides. But uh, I am a Virginian. I was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains and raised in Richmond. I grew up there, Richmond was home for my childhood, oh my god for like, you know, up until, you know, I left a little bit before college, but I was there for, I mean, until like, 1718. And I like my family is still there. My My parents still live there. Like it is, when I close my eyes. And I think of a story. It nearly like 99.9% always goes back to Virginia, somewhere in Virginia, even a nebulous Virginia like not necessarily Richmond, but just like, the, like the kind of the green swath of Virginia is just going to be a kind of a knee jerk location for, for me setting a story. And Richmond, in particular for Ghost readers. It's funny, because I mean, well, I don't know, funny, but like, I, there's a lot that's really personal about this book. You know, all the characters are fictional, but there, there are certain elements of it, that that kind of speak to my own kind of personal history. As, as someone who lost a friend to addiction growing up, as someone who has lost touch with a lot of friends from college, who's burned way too many bridges and then kind of like a crappy friend. You know, like, setting it in Richmond was was, you know, a decision that was based upon like, I'm basically just kind of writing about me without writing about me, but I wanted to route it in a place that felt familiar and felt like home. But I mean, let's be honest, like Richmond is the heart of the Confederacy. It is. It is steeped in its own kind of, you know, Confederate mythos and Southern, you know, Southern Gothic underpinnings, like I like I did that on purpose because I can't think I personally have not lived in a more haunted city or visited a more haunted city like it, it's just ever Anywhere you go, it's in the people it's in the, the street, the ground that like in the houses and I don't know, like, that just felt valuable to me if you're going to if you're going to take a story about a haunted drug that allows you to see the dead What is the worst city to take a drug like that? And you know, I'm there there could be a long list but you know, for me at the top of it was was Richmond because that was just that was like ghosts are everywhere in that city. So yeah, I but I it's so funny because like, I got all the details wrong. Anyone who is actually from Richmond, will call shenanigans on me page after page after page and be like, that doesn't happen at the corner of Monroe, and Fushi street that that building doesn't exist. So I'm actively acknowledging that this is a imagined version of Richmond that isn't necessarily the real authentic like this, this, this is the map of Richmond. But it's my story, so I can I can fetch the details as much as I want. Dammit.

Michael David Wilson 41:20

Yeah. Do you think you know that? I mean, some people do get up in arms when they find that like a town or a city that is being portrayed isn't like accurately being portrayed. But I know, whenever Lawrence block sets his stories in real cities, it's his version. You know, it's an imagined version. So I always find it a little bit bizarre when people get so upset about that kind of thing. Because it's like, well, you know, that this thing is fiction anyway. So we're allowed to make a jump, we're allowed to, you know, have some things that are authentic and real, and others that aren't. I mean, in my current work in progress, it starts off in my fictionalized version of a real town, and then we just go into another town that's completely imagined. So I don't know. Call the cops on me for that one.

Bob Pastorella 42:25

Yeah, that's crazy. Because it's like, you know, people call you out on stuff. And it's like, oh, man, if you think the city's fake, why do you meet the character? Yeah. It's called fiction. Weird.

Clay McLeod Chapman 42:38

But I mean, I mean, I get I get it. I mean, it's funny, like, I recently read razor blade tears, by SSA, Cosby. An amazing book. It's a friggin amazing book. And it takes place in and around Richmond, and all these different kinds of locations in kind of the Gloucester area of Virginia, and like, I read it, and I don't know if he was factually correct, but it just felt right. Like it felt real. And I was like, Ah, this is amazing. Because here's, here's someone who wrote this book, and it just feels lived in. And I, you know, I think that people who call shenanigans on writers who get the details wrong, they're not living in the book the way that they could. And the way I definitely did when I read razor blade tears, so I don't know. Yeah, it's it's funny how like, I mean, but we all do that, right? Like, there's always that moment of like, that's not how it really works, or that's not where that is, might not gr might not, it might not be geographical, but like, there are so many details that like, you know, if you're, if you're a doctor, and someone writes a book about a doctor as a character, and they get the details wrong, or kind of fudge it a little bit. You as the doctor reading this book will just be like, Oh my god, does this person even know what a doctor is? Has has, like someone's gonna read this and be like, has this guy even been to Richmond? And, uh,

Michael David Wilson 44:22

yeah, I mean, I think I think you've really captured the essence succinctly. It doesn't have to be real, but it has to feel real. And so I think inventing different shops and your fictionalized version of Richmond. For me, that is permissible. But getting a medical detail incorrect. Your doctor might call out for yours. Fields a bigger mistake may probably like many humans. Some just a walking contradiction. Oh, this this is okay. But this isn't it depends, as well, you know, on the specific errors or what exactly it is, but it does come back to it doesn't have to be real, it has to feel real. So, I don't know, with the doctor if you're describing, like, parts that it's like, anatomically isn't how a human being works that feels like a major error rather than if they've prescribed drugs that technically could work but it isn't the optimal choice. So I think there are degrees in in kind of mistake and error in you know, for different people, it's going to bring you out of the story and for others it's not

Clay McLeod Chapman 45:53

Yeah. Yeah, I tried to get I tried to, you know, route it to Richmond in a way that felt like a kinship to it, but like, you know, like, Richmond in a lot of southern cities, there's there's a certain kind of propriety to the their home town. And I get that like, you know, I I've lived in New York for 20 plus years now. And I still can't call myself a New Yorker because I wasn't born here. And I think the South is much the same I think, you know, there's there's this vibe of roots and whatever your your your kind of geographic heritage is, and like, where you come from. I haven't lived down south for decades now but like it is, it's it's always it feels like home like I always that's where my imagined life goes. Like I I yearn for the South in my my head. So you know, if I have my druthers I will. I will write about the South or set my stories in the South. Until Until I I am dead.

Michael David Wilson 47:08

Yeah. Yeah, at which point you will haunt me and I'll spread the word. Everyone around the universe will then be forced to believe in the supernatural so we're onto something pretty Shane

Clay McLeod Chapman 47:30

Oh, if I if I could haunt you. That would be amazing. I like the

Michael David Wilson 47:36

amazing for you for the whole world fucking world apart from me. I'm getting haunted here Bob don't bloody encourage it.

Clay McLeod Chapman 47:51

You'd have to you have to go on air and basically say, Well, guys, he proved me wrong. They are the ghosts do exist.

Michael David Wilson 48:02

You have I mean, I don't know how the technology is gonna work or if you're going to be able to appear on recordings but if so then we can have the first podcast to have a ghost as a guest. So you haven't got that? Have you Joe Rogan last one that we've got over you will get millions of viewers yet.

Bob Pastorella 48:25

The sad thing is, is that nobody's gonna believe you if you can't prove it and include me. You'd be hosed to

Michael David Wilson 48:37

God dammit. Well, I mean, we've touched on it, but it's such an original take and a concept. You know, this idea that you can take this drug and be able to see ghosts. So what was the genesis for this idea?

Clay McLeod Chapman 48:56

Oh, wow. Um, two things. It's funny, cuz I'm gonna be hazy on the dates because it's been a while. But a while back. I was developing a feature film project for this production company in LA. And they wanted like a Freddy Krueger style story. And we pitched an idea about a haunted drug. And it was a different kind of genesis of the drug like the drug was totally different in that project, but they wanted like, what if? What if basically Freddy Krueger could come to you in the after you took a pill. So like all these kids, these these kind of in dispense like but like these, these teens take a synthetic drug and it allows them to see things and one of the things they see is like a demon or a serial killer ghost of some sort. And like we, I worked on it for a while, got no traction, it just didn't, I just couldn't crack it. And then it just got shelved. Like it just, it just sat there for forever. But like, the basic core concept always just stuck with me for years, where it was like, I really want to, I just love the idea of a haunted drug. I just love the idea of like popping a pill and being able to see ghosts. And, you know, there have been different versions of it, like other stories that kind of like, like, like, revolve around it. But like, for me, the entry point like the true kind of Genesis was, I was kind of Frank with myself and kind of like asked, like, what, what would ground this story and make it personal to me. And, you know, you know, to be completely frank, I had a friend who I grew up with who I went to high school with, you know, who, who, who passed away.

And, you know, he, he was an addict it. And I wasn't I, you know, I just wasn't there for him. And, you know, we were really close for a long time. And the more he succumbed to his addiction, the more I pulled away from him. And the more I drew this, this line in the sand that I thought was there for his, his sake, because I thought the best thing to do was tough love. And that he would get his act together. But that was just, uh, that was Bs, and it was just me, you know, shifting into kind of self preservation mode and distancing myself and, you know, just pulling away. And, you know, we talked about ghosts and regret, one of the biggest regrets in my life is that I, I wasn't there for him, when he he died. And I wasn't there for him, you know, for a long time before he died. And, you know, it just I, you know, in regards to like, like, legitimate, straight up, like, really, like, just regret, like, where, what have I done in this world that I truly wish I could take back? And it if that is that is definitely, you know, right there at the top of the list. Which is probably it's a very long list to you know, but yeah, and what do I do like, as a complete, like, you know, Vulture of creativity, I say, I have this feeling, I have this this thing in my, my personal experience, I am going to exploit it. And, you know, turn it into this story and it's ghoulish to, like even say it out loud, but like I, I wanted to write about this thing. And the only way I knew how to write about it was in this ghost story. So I conflate, I took these two things, these two elements that had nothing to do with each other. But I ground I took that that crappy Hollywood story that I was trying to crack. And I grounded it in this this kind of personal experience of mine and told the story from my own point of view. Yeah, and that was that's go Staters.

Michael David Wilson 54:05

Yeah, I think in terms of what you did, I mean, we have to forgive ourselves. And I do think that we operate doing what we think is best. At the time. We're doing it even if we've hindsight. We see it clearly wasn't and to live with that regret or to not forgive ourselves. It just eats away acid is too much and it's not healthy.

Clay McLeod Chapman 54:35

Yeah, it is unhealthy. But it doesn't stop us from doesn't stop me from doing it. I you know, I don't know. Like, you know, it's funny and I'm totally serious. Like I haven't I really don't know how to talk about this yet. Because I haven't yet and I'm starting to so it's like, I don't know how much of this I'm gonna you know, like Like, I never want this to feel like a soundbite, like, it's the kind of like, canned answer. But I'm navigating it, like, I'm trying to figure out what I want to say. But it's like, there's nothing about this, that makes me feel like I come out feeling like a good person, or, you know, my, my, the things that happen in my life have very, they have less to do about the, the kind of imagined world in which the story of ghosts eaters exists. But it is the Genesis point it is the like, it is the core root of it. And it's me grappling with, or, you know, not even coming to terms, but just like confronting my own kind of privilege and my own, you know, ambivalence to a friend to someone I loved and that I like, I did that to them. And it's, it just sucks. So, you know, I'm airing this now. Because I don't know how it's to talk about it. But it's funny how, you know, it's, it's that like, it is the it is the kind of the, the origin of this book. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 56:30

yeah, it's a difficult one in terms of when we reflect, and we think whether we're a good person, whether we're a bad person, I mean, I think the good news is that a truly bad person wouldn't be being so reflective, they wouldn't be asking these questions and questioning if they're a good person. So I think we've covered that you're not a bad person. So that's a good start.

Clay McLeod Chapman 56:59

I mean, I don't want to I, the thing I want to avoid, is that feeling of like, it's not a litigation of my, like, how am I like, I, like it's, I want to kind of embrace my shittiness I want to, like, I'm, you know, I don't know, I mean, it's funny because, like, think, I guess I should say thank you for thinking of me as a good person, or that like, you know, that, uh, that I'm I am all right. Because it's so but it's so funny how, like, we are educated. And we've we are we grow based on our experiences. And our ultimately, I think we grow the most from our mistakes. And I just think like, you know, I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. And I think I've heard a lot of people in my life. But the thing, the kind of the, it's not even solace, but the thing I'm trying to rectify with is like, striving towards Jesus, what am I even striving towards? Um, just striving towards, like, an understanding of like, why and who? And what and where? I don't know. But But yeah, like this, this core fundamental thing of like, losing a friend, and that person not coming back, and yearning for the like, the what if pneus of of like, well, what if you could get them back? Or what if you could, like, see them again? Or what if you, you didn't have to say goodbye? And, you know, speaking specifically about the supernatural and do you believe in ghosts? I am obsessed with like with spiritualism, and the fox sisters, from, you know, the early 1800s, mid 1800s, late 1800s 1865 ish, where, you know, you have these, the kind of the genesis of seances and you know, communing with the dead, you know, in the like, in and around the Civil War. That stuff to me is like, it's so stunning and gorgeous. And, you know, you think back to the Civil War, and how so many people were suddenly confronted with death on such a massive wholesale, like, level that you know, there was no way to rectify with loss. You know, we were all promised the good death that we would die in our beds next to our loved ones, but now Our battle like we're on the battlefield and Shiloh, you know, dying at, you know, in the mud. And it, you know, you're not given the good death anymore, you're not being able to say goodbye to your mom, your dad, your loved ones, your wife, your kids. And we're death took from us. And you know, this drug at the, you know, at the foundation of of ghostriders is a, it's a pill that's supposed to, like bring that back, you know, you know, connect you to the people that you've lost that that, you know, because it's like death is unfair. Yeah, so these are all the things that I wanted to grapple with. But I'm

Bob Pastorella 1:00:44

gonna go back to when he talked about how it feels ghoulish to, you know, mine, your, your past and voucherize your stories and, and while it well, it is like what you when you when you take that and you turn it into a story that has its, I guess its origins and pain and grief and things like that. And you can just, that's what, that's what they mean about writing what you know, you know, and it's also what they mean by you know, making, right writing the truest sentences that you can. And there's something very freeing, there's, there's something honest about that type of freedom. And if you if you believe that, then that, that honesty doesn't necessarily mean that it's a good thing, or a bad thing, that it's a happy thing, or a sad thing, it can be all those things, because that's, that's we're honesty comes from, yeah, and, you know, to me, that that is that is when you know, when you can do that, that's when you're firing on all cylinders. And that's when when I can, I can sense it in my own work, I can sense in other people's work. And it's, it's like, at that point, right there, you can you can take your reader any anywhere you want them to go within, within reason, you know, but I mean, if you're just not you stay within the confines of the story, you can take them to those very, very dark places and bring them back into the light. And I think that's, that's important to the tap into that Zen. You know, that's, that's what I strive for. When I write I want to find something that's, that's true, you know, but it's not it's not true isn't like, I believe in ghosts, or monsters or vampires or anything like that. It's true, where I'm coming from with the characters in the story.

Clay McLeod Chapman 1:02:45

Yeah. You know, with that, I mean, I think you're really onto it right there. Like, I feel like the notion of truth, emotional truth is so important. And like I, you know, I would argue, I don't know. You know, for the longest time with my writing, I got so miffed at the idea of like, people being like, write what you know, write what you know, and I just got bummed out about that, because I never like, you know, we all have that fifth grade English teacher who just hammered it into our heads. And like, I always found myself kind of enamored with the idea of writing what I don't know. I wanted to go everywhere else, but what I knew what my own personal experiences were. But I didn't think that like if you could just kind of take that, that notion of writing what you know, and kind of shift it, to write what you feel. And if you could hit an emotional truth, whether it's your own personal experience or some imagined experience, but if there's an emotional truth to it, that catharsis that you experience as the writer, connects you tethers you to your reader, and gives them the opportunity to feel it too, because I think I think that people respond like, people are very shrewd readers are really shrewd when it comes to emotional honesty on the page. And if, if someone is half assing it or faking it, like you feel it, you vibe on that, but if it's real, if it's real to the off, if it's honest and true, then the reader responds in kind and they experienced that catharsis. They're liberated by the characters, and I just feel like, God, it's such an amazing thing. And it's so rare to do it well to do it, right. But when you do when you feel it, either as the author or as the reader, it's like, it cannot be beat. Oh my god, I love it.

Bob Pastorella 1:04:54

It's the drug that we used to write. You know, and it just statistically, it's kind of like an aside here, but when you when you're in that kind of grade school level, and if you do take anything in writing, you know, a teacher's in an English class is telling you to write what you know, let me remind you that you're in fifth fucking grade, you don't know nothing, you know nothing. So they should actually say right, which you feel that so right, because at that point right there as you can get right, which you feel down. And then as you get older and you want to continue to write the right which, you know, makes a lot more sense.

Michael David Wilson 1:05:31

Yeah. All writing to you just flip it and snow. Right. What you know, is know what you write. That's far more important.

Clay McLeod Chapman 1:05:41

Yeah. profound.

Bob Pastorella 1:05:45

Profound, witty. Yes,

Clay McLeod Chapman 1:05:49

man. I love it. I don't know, it must. But here's the thing. I think this is great for us, the writers, but anyone in the orbit of that writer has to like suffer through it. Because, you know, I'm thinking of, you know, my friend who passed. And I'm thinking of a circle of friends in which we came from. And I am terrified of the notion of them picking up this book and reading it, because it's not, it's not us, it's not our friends. But there is that like, adjacency to it, that like running parallel to the truth, the actual kind of history. And like, you know, I heard you, you echo ghoulish. So I want to kind of go back to that purely because it's the whole, you can't go home again, that you can't write about yourself, even if you layer it and mask it with fiction. It's somebody's truth. It's my truth. It could be somebody else's verb, like there could be someone else's truth in it, too. And I'm just terrified what they're gonna think

Bob Pastorella 1:07:14

that's valid. You know, I've written about people that I know, you know, you, you can change the names and circumstances. And to me, there's, there's just like, one person in particular that you know that to hear them tell me that they read, you know, my book. That that could that could actually be a pretty, pretty scary situation. Yeah. You know, and are, they knew someone who read the book. And it was me, and they put two and two together. Fortunately, this person would have a sense of humor, and probably go and that was pretty cool. But you never know, because this person is a little volatile. And it could be that was pretty, that was pretty cool. But I'm still gonna whip your ass.

Unknown Speaker 1:08:11

So yeah, that's where you go.

Michael David Wilson 1:08:17

Thank you so much for listening to part two of claim a cloud Catman. Join us again next time for the third and final part of that conversation. But if you would like to listen to that ahead of the crowd, if you would like to listen to every episode ahead of the crowd, then become our Patreon, a patreon.com. Forward slash, This Is Horror. And as I said, at the start of the episode, I'm finding myself in a little bit of a situation at the moment. And it would help me immensely if everyone who listens to the podcast regularly, pledges at that minimum level of free dollars. I wish I could disclose exactly what's going on. But as I've said before, I found myself in a bit of a difficult situation for over a year now. Coming up to 15 months, in fact, and things got very difficult indeed. And so I'm just reaching out to this wonderful community. You know, I don't believe in miracles but I do believe in the power of the community and the wonderful This Is Horror Podcast community. So if you've listened regularly, if you're in a position to do so, if you could pledge at that minimum level of free dollars, I will be so grateful. Truly. And not only You're gonna get access to every episode ahead of the crowd. But you can submit questions to each and every interviewee we're going to be chatting soon to Ronald Kelly, Brian Asman gamma or more. Jonathan Jan's synth for you, Cynthia Palacio is to name a few. And we have got some big, big guests lined up for the coming months and as we approach the episode 500. So I think this is gonna be something that you're gonna really benefit from. But, you know, truthfully, this is going to be something that I benefit from too. So if in this nearly decade, nearly 500 episodes, you've got some value from This Is Horror Podcast, and you'd like to give a little bit back, now would be a tremendous time to do that. So head over to patreon.com forward slash, This Is Horror. Have a look at what we offer. See if it's a good fit for you see if it's something that you're interested in, that you could benefit from. Now, if you want to support me, but Patreon isn't quite the way to do so you know, you're no interest in that. I do offer some editing services. You can find out the details that Michael David wilson.co.uk forward slash editing. I've received some wonderful testimonials from the likes of Josh Malerman. David moody, and Ray clearly another way you can support the show and support me. So if you got a book, or an event, or something horror related, or something that you think that This Is Horror Podcast audience could benefit from and you'd like to advertise on This Is Horror. That do reach out either DM me on Twitter, at This Is Horror. Or send me an email Michael at this is horror.co.uk. I'd love your support. And, you know, I thank you all in advance for being such a tremendous and dedicated listening community. So truly, I do appreciate everything that you've all done over this decade. So thank you. For a wrap up. A little bit of an advert break.

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Bob Pastorella 1:13:31

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Michael David Wilson 1:14:03

As always, I'd like to wrap up with a quote as particular quote I'm not sure who is to be attributed to Sophie know you could let me know at This Is Horror. Could even email me you know if you want to let me know that way. Michael at this is horror.co.uk. But I think this is a good thing for us all to remember to reflect on as to something that is also good for me to reflect on and for me to think about. So here we go. Good times become good memories and bad times become good lessons. I'll see you in the next episode. For the third and final part of the conversation. Clay McLeod Chapman, but until then you Take care yourselves, be good to one another, read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.

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