In this podcast, Richard Chizmar talks about Becoming The Boogeyman, writing characters based on real people, future writing projects, and much more.
About Richard Chizmar
Richard Chizmar is a New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Amazon, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author. He is the co-author (with Stephen King) of the bestselling novella, Gwendy’s Button Box and the founder/publisher of Cemetery Dance magazine and the Cemetery Dance Publications book imprint. He has edited more than 35 anthologies and his short fiction has appeared in dozens of publications, including multiple editions of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. He has won two World Fantasy awards, four International Horror Guild awards, and the HWA’s Board of Trustee’s award. His latest book is Becoming the Boogeyman, the sequel to Chasing the Boogeyman.
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Not Forever, But For Now by Chuck Palahniuk
Meet Otto and Cecil. Two brothers growing up privileged in the Welsh countryside. They enjoy watching nature shows, playing with their pet pony, impersonating their Grandfather…and killing the help. Murder is the family business after all. Downton Abbey, this is not.
What this IS: the groundbreaking new novel Not Forever, But For Now by Chuck Palahniuk. You may know Chuck as the author of Fight Club. Now you’ll know him as the author of Not Forever, But For Now, wherever books are sold.
Dark doings are afoot in the forests of Charwood … Josh Schlossberg brings you CHARWOOD, an eco folk horror novel 5,783 years in the making. After joining the Tenders—a band of backwoods activists claiming to solve climate change by burning trees for energy—Orna Tannenbaum falls in with Rowan, their odd yet charming leader. But when Orna uncovers what the Tenders are really up to in the forest, she must apply the ancient wisdom of her culture to battle dark forces threatening to gain a foothold in our world.
Michael David Wilson (00:00:28): Welcome to This is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers, and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode I chat with the world's best writers about writing life lessons, creativity, and much more. My guest today is Richard Chizmar, the publisher of Cemetery Dance and the author of a vast array of books including Gwendy's Button Box with Stephen King, and most recently, the sequel to Chasing, the Boogie Man Becoming the Boogie Man. Now, this is the third time that Richard's been on the show, so if you want to hear somebody the earlier episodes of him, then do check out episodes 250 and 391. But today I'm talking to Richard about all things Boogie Man to coincide with a release next month of Richard's new book. But before we jump into that, a quick advert break
Bob Pastorella (00:01:40): From Madness Heart Press. Josh Schlageberg brings you Charwood, an eco-folk horror novel, 5,783 years in the making. After joining the Tinders, a band of backwoods activists claiming to solve climate change by burning trees for energy on Tannenbaum falls in with Rowan, their odd, charming leader. But when Honour uncovers what the Tinders are really up to in the forest, she must apply the ancient wisdom of her culture to battle Dark forces threatening to gain a foothold in our world. Meet Otto and Cecil, two brothers going up privileged in the Welsh countryside. They enjoy watching nature shows, playing with their pet pony, impersonating their grandfather and killing to help. Murder is the family business. After all, Downton Abbey. This is not what, this is the groundbreaking new novel, not forever, but for now by Chuck Palenick. You may know Chuck as the author of Fight Club now. You'll know him as the author of Not Forever, but for now, wherever books are sold.
Richard Chizmar (00:02:59): Thanks for having me again.
Michael David Wilson (00:03:01): So the last time we spoke was back in March of 2021, so as I always do, what have been the biggest changes for you both personally and professionally in that time?
Richard Chizmar (00:03:16): Good question. Personally, just two more years of what, two and a half more years of being a dad and a husband and still living the same place. We had recently moved into this old house probably six months before that last time we spoke. So we're enjoying the new place and not too much different. Personally and professionally, same thing. I'm still year 35, still just kind of chugging along, writing, editing, publishing, reading, watching movies, same old boring guy.
Michael David Wilson (00:03:53): Well, I think a number of people would disagree with the boring guy and conclusion, but whether you are or not, you're fiction. It's certainly not boring and the books that are being put out, that's what, yeah, but I wasn't planning on going in this direction. But since you said last time we spoke, you'd moved into an old house six months before. Have there been any ominous happenings in the old houses? It's my horror brain. It is old house and it's like, oh, is there a story there?
Richard Chizmar (00:04:31): Well, especially, it's 200, it's over 200 years old. It was built in two sections. One was built in the late 17 hundreds, and the other part was built in the early 18 hundreds. Well, I was going to say unfortunately, but maybe not, no supernatural occurrences or bumps in the night that have been bothersome for us. The previous owners claimed that there may have been a little sprinkling of that, but we haven't experienced any of that. But when we moved in, it was a pretty terrifying place empty of furniture and in the dark, and that's why Billy and I ended up making the week before the workers were due to come in and start redoing a lot of things. That's when we decided we needed to make a movie in there. So we made a film called Murder House, and anyone who watches that can see what the house looked like before we renovated.
Michael David Wilson (00:05:30): Yeah, and you couldn't get a more overt horror title like Murder House that is in your face right there. Yeah,
Richard Chizmar (00:05:41): I think the neighbours thought we might be crazy. You just named your house, murder house, and we actually discussed that. Is this bad luck? But so far so good. It's a nice peaceful place.
Michael David Wilson (00:05:54): Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, is there anything in terms of the screenwriting or the filming that you're working on at the moment?
Richard Chizmar (00:06:03): No, because of the strike, a lot of that stuff's just kind of on hold, and I've been really focusing on prose and novels, the occasional short story, but I've been really been focusing on the novels for the last few years, so I'm hoping that I heard that the writers and Sag and them, they met with the big guys today. So hopefully a deal will come out of that soon. But yeah, I mean, I have several film projects that are at various stages, but nothing that we're working on firsthand, and it'll probably stay that way for a while and just focus on the books.
Michael David Wilson (00:06:40): Yeah, as soon as you started answering, I thought. Yeah, because I was thinking, we talk a lot about your fiction, but you do have a big interest in film as well, so I wanted to know what's going on in that area. As soon as you started answering, I was like, this is some got your question. It's like, are you working on something film related? Aha, the strike is on. You got to stop that. I
Richard Chizmar (00:07:06): Still could be still be writing. It's not doing any business. But no, I'm trying to finish a new book right now in the next few weeks before I hit the road, and I have a bunch of signings and appearances for becoming the boogeyman. So yeah, I'm just trying to clear the table before I get started.
Michael David Wilson (00:07:25): Yeah, yeah. Well, I'm intrigued to talk about what the book is that you're working on at the moment, but I think just for the sake of talking about becoming the boogeyman, we should jump into that right now. So I mean, I've actually just had a boogeyman marathon. I had write, let's read them Back to Back. It had been a couple of years since chasing the Boogeyman. So I wanted to just before this conversation, do that sequentially. But if I recall correctly, when you first wrote Chasing, the Boogeyman, the idea was this is one and done. There's not going to be a sequel. So let's talk about how that came about.
Richard Chizmar (00:08:14): Yeah, I had no intentions whatsoever. Writing one book with myself as the main character was enough. And then one day I was, ironically enough, I was riding my riding mower, mowing the lawn around the pond, just like I talk about in the book. And I did not drive into the pond this time, even though it was like a lightning bolt hit. I just had the idea, and I wasn't trying to think about it. It just came to me full fledged, the first chapter for Becoming the Boogeyman Man. It's like I saw it complete and I knew it would end on the big reveal of who the victim was at the end of chapter one, becoming the Boogeyman, and then that ties it into chasing the boogeyman, and I fell in love with that big reveal that got you moment. And by the time I was finished mowing the lawn, I came inside, I'm like, ah, I think there's a sequel I need to write. So when my agent and I went to Simon & Schuster Gallery books, and they offered a two-book deal, I made sure that becoming the Boogeyman was a part of that. And they've been very supportive and very excited. And Ed Schlesinger, who was my editor and the head of gallery, did a terrific job editing it and made it a much better manuscript, just like Gwendy with Steve. We had no intention of there being a book two or a book three. Same thing happened with this one, but a nice happy accident.
Michael David Wilson (00:09:46): Yeah. And was there any reluctance about writing a sequel once chapter one came to you? Or was there any reluctance on your agent's part or the publisher's, or was everyone pretty much on board with this?
Richard Chizmar (00:10:04): Everyone was on board. The only thing I do remember is that there was a little bit of a push to make it book two of that two-book deal to have a standalone book come out next. By then I was sucked into the stories and I kind of just said, I'd really boogeyman to come next, and then this third book will be a standalone. So that was it. But I do think there's natural concern with sequels. They usually don't sell as well as the first one, just like movies. They're rarely as good as the first one or as well received as the first one above and beyond sales. So I think there's some natural concern for that. And I've been working extra hard on promoting and working extra hard and getting the word out and doing shows like this, which I enjoy. Yeah, so I do feel just like I did with Boogeyman, other than the Gwendy books, it was my first big book with my first book with a big publisher like that, and they had a lot invested. So I felt like I have a responsibility to them to work as hard as I can to get the book out there. So I'm excited. The early response has been wonderful, and we'll see what happens in a couple weeks.
Michael David Wilson (00:11:23): Yeah, and I mean, in terms of the first book, the Boogeyman we spoke before about how this really does blend fact and fiction in an almost blair witch way. I mean, if you'd have removed the little bit actually saying that this is fiction and you'd have removed a novel, then people would've gone full blair witch with their reaction to it. But I mean, for myself, and I know for other people, there were moments where I almost had to catch myself and be like, wait, hang on, is this real? No, no, no. This is definitely a novel. But it was so kind of convincing and authoritative. And I'm wondering, did the book receive any kind of backlash from people? I mean, in the sequel, in the kind of novelization and alternate reality of your life, there's a lot of anti-gizmo sentiment. But I'm wondering, in real life, did you have any readers that were either angry that it turned out not to be true, or were there people who went the other way and they were adamant like, no, no, this actually did happen?
Richard Chizmar (00:12:44): A little of both. I mean, the response was overwhelmingly positive, which was a relief and wonderful. But yeah, there were a handful of people who I saw their messages online and things like that where they'd post on a thread, I felt ripped off. I got to the end and I felt tricked, and I never respond to anything like that. But there were times when I was tempted to just say, well, isn't that what you plopped your twenty-five dollars down for, was to kind of be taken for a ride. It was like a roller coaster ride, just like any thriller, you got off and you were safe and you went right back to your life. But there's no guarantee what that journey is going to be like. So yeah, there were a handful of people who were ticked off that it wasn't real and felt like they got jipped.
(00:13:31): And then, yeah, I mean, the best example I have of someone who insists that it really happened, the Edgewood Library where the library I grew up going to down the street from my home, my hometown, and the library wrote about in the book, they did a beautiful window display of, they did photocopies of the photos, they put up police tape, they put up copies of the book and had quotes printed out from within the book. And it was a beautiful window display. I went and visited one day, and I had my picture taken in front of it with the librarians, and one of 'em told me a story about an older lady who came in and they said, several people in the beginning kind of came in, I vaguely remember this, and da da, da, da da. But as they got the book and read it, they realised I made up the murders. But there was one older lady who insisted, no, no, they told her it is made up. You can see it says a novel. And no, I was here. It happened. I remember. So there is someone back in my hometown who absolutely insists that the murders really happened.
Michael David Wilson (00:14:38): Yeah, and I mean, I guess there was a further blurring of the line that as you mentioned previously, and as I believe you mentioned in the afterword of the original book Gallagher for a moment, I was like, wait, is this a spoiler? No, no, we're talking about the sequel now, so it's okay. Joshua Gallagher was based on the Phantom, so there was a kind of creepy guy going around doing a untoward and definitely illegal by today's standards stuff, I'm sure.
Richard Chizmar (00:15:16): And who knows if he hadn't eventually been caught for a different crime. I mean, who knows if what he was doing as far as just touching, breaking, and entering and touching women and escaping into the night, if that would've escalated. I mean, a lot of killers had started that way. They started by touching and observing and watching, and then it gradually or not so gradually escalated to violence. So who knows? But yeah, he was based on the phantom, and that was all true. And I suspect that the people who have that itch in their memory of something happening, that's what it was because it did change the town to a certain degree. People started locking their doors and windows back there. And in the early eighties where I grew up, people didn't do that all the time, and people did buy spotlights for their yards, and I heard rumours of people getting guns and things like that. So yeah, it definitely spooked the town. And as I said in that afterward, I just took it a couple steps further what I thought could happen next.
Michael David Wilson (00:16:23): Yeah. And in terms of basing the Joshua Gallagher character on real people or kind of real serial killers and sociopaths, were there any that particularly came to mind? I mean, I know that you've spoke about, I guess the attraction or the allure, not your own attraction, but in general to charismatic serial killers such as Ted Bundy and Richard Ramirez. But I'm wondering, does specific research in terms of serial killers that you turn to when writing both of these books?
Richard Chizmar (00:17:06): Yeah, not so much a specific serial killer. I did do a lot of research. I did do a lot of reading in my mind, Joshua was always, and I delve into this in becoming the Boogie Man, he was always more this faceless. I didn't want it to be charismatic. I didn't want it to be genius. Even though I refer to that in the first book, Carly Albright, who was kind of my conscience in the book, she said, rich, you want this guy to be brilliant. You want him to be Hannibal Lecter, and he might not be. She warned me. She said, it just might be the weird, he sits in the corner of the room and has issues. So to me, he was always much more the shape. John Carpenter's, the Shape from Halloween, which I wrote about then becoming the Boogeyman. He was this faceless boogeyman, much more of a campfire tale type of a villain. But yeah, I mean, I've read so much about all of the various serial killers. I mean, so many of my short stories are based on the human monster as opposed to the supernatural creatures. And it's just always because I consider them the scariest things out there. The guy who you paid for your Slurpee or your soda at seven 11, or the guy who held the door for you at the grocery store, and you just store, never know. And that's scary to me.
Michael David Wilson (00:18:31): Yeah, and I have to imagine that becoming the boogeyman is a little less autobiographical than the original Chasing. The Boogeyman just purely because, I mean, chasing, the Boogeyman, there's so much from your childhood and growing up, and all you needed, I say all you needed to do, but you've added this serial killer element, these murders going on. But I mean, if you take that away, it's almost an autobiography. But with becoming the boogeyman, you've now got, as I said before, this alternate reality of your life. So I mean, was there any concern or difficulty in making the Richard Chisholm as authentic as possible, this Richard Chisholm character, or did you not even care about that? And it's like, well, the Richard Chisholm of the book can be different to the Richard Chisholm of reality.
Richard Chizmar (00:19:41): Reality. You know what? That guy could be different from reality. But I tried to make it as close to reality as I thought. The same thing with the first book. I mean, you're a hundred percent right. I had people ask me how much of the first book was really true, and I said, well, you take out the murders, and then you're looking at the stuff with my family and my friends and the things I was thinking and doing throughout my adolescence. All that stuff's true, even the kind of gross stories. I had friends who did this and that, and we threw Crabapples at cars and we got in trouble for this, and it was all true. And then like you said, then I got to the murders and that's where I was making stuff up. But even then, I had the dynamic of I'm writing about this real person or real people, group of people, how would they react?
(00:20:33): And most importantly, how would I react to the things that then began to happen in the town? And I felt like I had to be really as honest as I could be, meaning I put myself in the shoes of that character being me and said, all right, well, how would you react if someone you knew on the peripheral of your small town was murdered, but you knew the older brother through school? And then how would you be if somebody else two streets over got murdered? How would you deal with your mom, who's this very emotional, feisty woman who kind of mourns for the world? Now this is happening right next door, and she's a mess.
(00:21:12): You're a hard guy. You're doing this magazine, you love the movies, and all of a sudden, your town is haddonfield. So there were times, and I've said this before, where I tried to be as authentic and as honest as to how I thought I would act as possible, even when it didn't necessarily shine a positive light on myself. I wasn't happy. I would never be happy that people were being killed or anything like that, of course. But the weather guy who can't help but feel his heart beating a little quicker because there's a hurricane coming, he doesn't want people to lose their homes and floods and all that, but you know what he does, it's what his passion is, so he can't help but having some reaction to it. And I tried to be honest about that, and then I explored it a lot more thoroughly in the second book.
(00:22:08): So yeah, that's kind of a long winded answer to your question. And then with the second book, I did the same thing. I just tried to be honest. I put myself into some interesting situations where the public outcry was both positive and negative, but as with anything that starts very positive, there are things that usually do turn negative. I've been really fortunate so far, but I made the rich Chismar in becoming the Boogie Man, not be quite so fortunate. He had people, he turned into a much bigger figure than I am in actual life. So he faced some obstacles that I haven't, and again, I just try to be as honest as I could, and that's the only way I could really put myself in the book, because I joked with my family, I'm like, yeah, in the book, I run marathons and I work out twice a day and I eat healthy. And they're just like, oh my God. But yeah, no, I had to write about the real me in order for the story to work, in order for me to believe it, first and foremost, I had to write about the real guy. So it's interesting, people have said, man, you're brave. And I'm like, I don't know if it's courage or foolishness, but I put as much of the real me down there as I could.
Michael David Wilson (00:23:24): Yeah. And we know that if we read reviews, particularly if we jump into the kind of uncharted territory of Goodreads reviews, that the reviewers will be absolutely brutal and unflinching with what they say. So I wonder if you stumbled across any criticism specifically about the Richard Kizmar character, or as anyone being like, this guy is a real asshole, and how do you react when it's like, that's actually me?
Richard Chizmar (00:23:58): Yeah. You know what? I've been doing this for 35 years, like I said. So I've got, and before that, I was an athlete. I went to college on a lacrosse scholarship, so I've been yelled at by coaches since I was a kid. I've got thick skin. And I understood, fortunately, I understood really early on, and I think it was because I did so much editorial work, so I would publish an issue of the magazine. I would get, this was back before email. I would get 20 letters from people saying the William F. Nolan story, an issue, whatever was my favourite story. I would also get 10 letters saying something else was their favourite story, and they hated the William F. Nolan story.
(00:24:40): I understood from a very early stage in my career that people, you know what? Everyone's got different tastes, and you can't please everyone, so you really do. My thing is once I'm finished with it, once I believe in a story or a novel to the point where I can put my name behind it and go market it and help my publisher sell it, then I'm happy. Do I want to entertain the readers? Do I want 'em to give their money's worth and all that? Absolutely. But you know what, if they don't like it, I did my best. So on this individual project, you didn't like it. And then as far as the personal side, I have not. The last time I looked at Goodreads, there were about 90 ratings for this. And the only reason I looked at it is because you don't know what anyone's going to think in the beginning. And I was really pleased. I had a 4.8, which is unheard of for Goodreads, and most everybody loved it, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Now I saw a graphic that someone posted, I think it's like a four six or something, which is still ridiculous for Goodreads that'll go down.
(00:25:46): And so I haven't read any beyond that first, like I said, when it was at 90, I haven't read any. I probably will at some point, just for fun. We run a lot of ads on Facebook, so the comments that come on, those are hilarious. If you go to the ad that's running right now, fortunately, there's probably 80%. They're like, oh, I'd love the first book. I can't wait to get this one. Or I've already, and then there's probably 10%, which just don't make sense. People on Facebook tend to do sometimes. And then the other 10% are from people saying, I hated the first book. I didn't like the first book, so I'm not getting the second. Yeah. But as far as the personal to get there, my favourite was a woman who had a, I don't remember whether it was a good goodreads comment or if it was on an ad, but essentially she said, yeah, Chizmar seemed like a rotten kid throwing stuff at cars and doing this and doing that. Who wants to read about that rotten kid for 300? And I immediately remember, I took a screenshot and texted it to my whole family and all my friends, we got a kick out of that. So yeah, now it doesn't bother me. It's like I could be one of those writers and say, Hey, as long as you bought it, and I got my royalty from it, but I'm just like, eh, hopefully you enjoyed it, and if you didn't, sorry, try the next one.
Michael David Wilson (00:27:10): Yeah, yeah. And I mean, you were saying about running the Facebook advertising, and I feel that right now, particularly with Elon Musk having bought Twitter and rebranded it to X, there's a lot of uncertainty in terms of the social media landscape and advertising and promotion. And for a number of people too. Facebook has almost been gone for years, or it's felt like it's on the way out. But what do you see as the social media networks that are useful for both marketing and advertising? And I know that actually the paid advertising and the unpaid marketing, it might be a different social media depending on which one you're going to do.
Richard Chizmar (00:28:11): It's interesting because Twitter, which is no longer called Twitter, a lot of people are moving over to these other ones, blue Sky, I think, and people were shifting to Instagram. I've been very fortunate in that, and I had to be pulled into social media a decade ago or whatever, kicking and screaming thinking, oh my God, this is my nightmare. And I ended up loving it because I was able, for someone who doesn't go to a lot of shows or conventions, and much rather would stay home, this is a great way to interact with your readers. And I've met wonderful people. Again, I've heard horror stories from other creators of mass blockings and lynch mobs. I think in 10 years, I've probably had to block a half angry people who, for whatever reasons. And so I've been very fortunate, and I think it has helped me tremendously.
(00:29:12): I have a couple hundred people who are delivering book plates and bookmarks to bookstores for me, just wonderful, some of 'em thanking me for doing it. And I'm like, okay, I have to stop 'em each time. I say, no, thank you. You're doing me a favour. This is wonderful. And people who share the posts that I make and that thing, that kind of thing. And then it's wonderful. Most of it's just conversation. Most of it's talking about, Hey, has anyone seen this? Or, my youngest son Noah's home for the weekend, he loves Whodunits, so hey, suggest some Whodunits movies for us to watch. That kind of thing. And I've been able to build this very personal relationship with my readers. And like I said, it's a big surprise to me, but I enjoy it. I do my best to reward them for their loyalty, and I discover a snake in my backyard. I take a picture and I post it, and I say, someone can tell me what this is, and I have 50 or a hundred responses in an hour. That's pretty cool.
(00:30:19): Yeah. And as far as marketing, I hear a lot of people are abandoning Twitter or X, whatever the hell you want to call it, I'm one of the ones who's hanging around. I'll hang around until it's dead, because again, I've cultivated that. The friendships that I have on there, I know they've done a wealth of good as far as on the business side of things and marketing, but with the personal side, it's just as important. So I'll hang there. Same thing with Instagram and Facebook. And to kind of answer your question more pointedly, I think now's a really difficult time to start marketing on a place like Twitter or even Facebook or Instagram, because people are, we're a very divided country right now, and things get in the way of just pure entertainment. So I think right now, as far as just beginning to try to get your name out or market a book when you haven't done this before, it's a difficult time. And that's unfortunate.
Michael David Wilson (00:31:19): Yeah. Yeah. I think if you are starting out and you had to pick one social network, it's like, well, goodness, it's almost like the toss of a coin, because who knows which one will be the dominant one. I do think a few years back, Twitter, as you said, was the place for conversation at least, and getting all of those responses. You know what? I think it probably still is. I think it is. But as we've said, there's uncertainty as to the future. But yourself, I'll be sticking around until it effectively doesn't exist, because there's a lot of worry that it won't. But I mean, mark Twain said something along the lines of which I'll completely butcher. I've had a great deal of worries in my life, much of which were imagined. So rather than worrying about a future possibility, let's look at what the reality is right now. And right now, it is functional, it is existing. And I think both of us have got thousands of people, possibly tens of thousands in your case, who are following you, and that's not something to be thrown away.
Richard Chizmar (00:32:41): No, no. And like I said, there are people who I only interact with on Twitter. They're not on Instagram or Facebook, and the same thing goes for the other ones. I have a lot more long time friends from my hometown and stuff on Facebook. I think
Michael David Wilson (00:32:57): That's
Richard Chizmar (00:32:58): The way it's for most older people. Instagram's kind of a mixture. And now Twitter's becoming more of a lot of really hardcore readers and fans of the genre. And plenty of people who I really enjoy talking to who have never mentioned my work, I've probably never read anything I've written, but we have a lot of shared interests, whether it's a football or baseball or movies or other horror and suspense and thriller writers. So yeah, I would miss that too much. So until Elon tanks it and puts it down on the sea floor with the titanic, I'm going to hang around and see what happens.
Michael David Wilson (00:33:38): Yeah, yeah. Well, let's hope that he doesn't, and
Richard Chizmar (00:33:42): Oh, I'm hoping,
Michael David Wilson (00:33:43): I mean, at one point he was just running everything in terms of Twitter, and then he at least handed it over to another person to be the CEO. So it could be a lot of kind of posturing and bravado when we might see in the next few years. It's like, okay, he's delegating to more people, which you'd think he might want to do because he's got a really successful business in terms of tesla, in terms of the stuff he's doing with Spacex. It's like surely that's where you want to put your time.
Richard Chizmar (00:34:19): I've said for a while now that everyone has that one friend who likes to say or do outlandish, illogical things for
Michael David Wilson (00:34:28): You,
Richard Chizmar (00:34:29): And they enjoy seeing that ripple effect within their friend group. Well, imagine if you're him, and that group is millions of tens of millions of people.
(00:34:39): Why sometimes I think he's out there having lunch and he is like, watch this. He tweets something, and he watches that ripple, but it goes around the world instead of the room. So yeah, sometimes I think he's just playing games, and other times I don't waste too much thought on it. Like you said, mark Twain says, man, I'm not going to worry about that. When it happens, it happens. I've seen the following count drop because there's a mass exodus, and then half of 'em come back. I've seen people say, farewell, this is it for me. I've finally reached the breaking point. And then some of 'em six months later are back, and others you see on Instagram or whatever. So yeah, I, I'll go for the ride and see what happens and go from there.
Michael David Wilson (00:35:30): Yeah. Yeah. Well, there's more I could say about that, but let's move it back towards the boogeyman. And I mean, you said before that when you wrote the original, if this had really happened, if the murders had really happened, then you reckon that you as a twenty-two-year-old would have absolutely written that book. But I mean, if we think about the sequel, I mean, if this had actually happened and things had played out, so you'd got a lot of fame off the back of that, you'd made a lot of money. Do you think you would've written the sequel? Because to me, that feels more complicated because we've also had conversations before about the dangers in glorifying murder in the commodification of murder. So I feel that there are more moral dilemmas at that point.
Richard Chizmar (00:36:38): Again, that's what the second book really tries to get to the heart of, and it tries to look at the issue from both sides. And I feel like that spotlight is pretty unflinching when it's looking at me, where sometimes despite your best intentions, you still aren't completely in the right. And then there's a grey line there. And I thought about that a lot, even with the first book, because I'm a big true crime fan. I've read a lot of books in that area. It's really easy. And I've put down a lot of books without finishing 'em. It became increasingly easier to kind of spot the books that were done for sensationalistic financial reasons. And the writing was not careful. The writing was not intelligent. And then there were books where it really was, you could tell the writer was invested in the story. He was invested in not only trying to understand the evil that happened here as well as the survivors, and to kind of tell the story of the victim so that the world can know who this person was that the world was robbed of through this crime.
(00:38:01): And I wrote about this in Chasing the Boogeyman, how much respect I have for those writers who do it well, because it's not easy. And I think I've said before, chasing the Boogeyman was kind of my cheating way of doing a true crime book. I like research, I like doing research. I'm interested in the genre, obviously. But I think if I had to write a genuine true crime book, it would be very difficult because emotionally, I think I would've a very difficult time separating myself. And then I kind of looked in the mirror and I was like, yeah, those are the ones you enjoy. The ones where the writer had that difficulty separating themselves, so they just put themselves fully into the story. James Renner, who wrote the introduction for Boogie, the Man, he has several books like that. I'll Be Gone In the Dark.
(00:38:51): Michelle Mcnamara certainly is an example of someone who was so fully invested in the story that so passionately that her own life suffered. And I think that would be me. So I think I'll stay away from true crime and continue to make stuff up, but that fascination that we have is an interesting thing. And it's very scary because there's one thing to be interested in the dark side of humanity, which I am, and to want to explore that and better understand it. And that's another thing, to wear a T-shirt that has gacy's face on it or on the back has Charlie Manson, or to get a tattoo like Charlie Manson's, that kind of thing. And again, a lot of that's in the second book where it's just like, whoa, there are people out there with bad intentions who are using this as kind of a textbook or a playbook. So hopefully that comes across in the second book and isn't preachy or anything like that, but it just gives people something to think about.
Michael David Wilson (00:39:55): Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, you make a good point that of course, if we're writing about the murders, but we're doing so in a way that it doesn't glorify the serial killer, it does actually shed light on the victims and respects them, then that is not only valid, but actually important in keeping their memory alive. But yeah, it would be a lot harder to justify. Why did you get that tattoo of Mama's face? I can't see how you could say that was
Richard Chizmar (00:40:32): Why are you running a website devoted to this person or, yeah, for me, it is about that inability to understand, and I keep saying this, but this is a thread in that second book where I have Carly Albright and my wife kind of hitting me with that. It's like Rich, you've spent all these years trying to understand something, and sometimes you just, sometimes it's like Stephen King's book from a Buick eight. There are buicks everywhere. Sometimes there's these things, people that you come across in life that no matter what you do, you're never going to be able to hold it in your hand in a reasonable understandable way. So you can't spend your day shaking your fist at the sky, cursing God for giving you this mystery. You kind of just have to accept it and move on. And for me, that's what this book was about.
Michael David Wilson (00:41:28): Yeah, and I mean, I think for me, a lot of the fascination with true crime in general is attempting to understand, as you say, almost the un-understandable that with which we can't understand. And it's trying to understand human psychology and what brings somebody to that point. But I guess when a lot of it comes down to people being clinically a sociopath or a psychopath, well, if you are not wired that way, then not understanding it in at least an empathetic level is near impossible. But yeah, I do think a lot of the fascination is just like, well, how did this happen? What are the circumstances? And I mean, Bob and I have spoke at great length before as well, how there's sociopaths that are almost built that way. There's nature and then there's nurture, and there's all sorts of lines in between.
Richard Chizmar (00:42:36): Yes, yes. And yeah, and look at Henry Matheny from becoming the Boogie Man, that whole nature versus nurture. I try to explore that. And it's just, it's interesting because the true crime books that I read, I've talked about this when people have asked me about the photographs that were included in Chasing, the Boogie Man, and they're there again and becoming the Boogie Man, and I talked about my own personal experiences with true crime books and the photographs, and I always said, I hated how they were always in one section, and you had to keep flipping over to that section. But the photographs that were most fascinating to me, and the most haunting and memorable to me, they were never ones that had blood splatter or anything like that. Most of the, well-done true crime books, did not have gory photos and sensationalistic photos. It was more the photo, the stark realness of the photo of this trampled patch of grass behind a shed where the murder occurred, those kinds of things with the pillows that were thrown on the floor during the struggle and the coffee table that's just on its side, but there's no blood.
(00:43:42): But you're envisioning what happened there, and you're also thinking to yourself, or I certainly was, I've seen this scene a thousand times in my life as a kid. I used to run the shortcuts behind the sheds, and I used to dig for worms behind my neighbor's house, behind their shed. And you think about someone, the end of someone's life occurring right there in that grass crime scene photo. That photo was taken after the body was taken away. And those are the ones that, the very sensationalistic ones, but the ones that kind of wouldn't leave my brain, and those are the kind of thoughts that led me to making sure that I included photos in the books because I try to make them as realistic as possible and to show as little as possible. And many times just, and also the photos that affected me most were just their school photos or their candids of them at a birthday party. This photo was taken at so-and-so's birthday party three months before the murder, and that just killed me like, oh my God. So yeah, like you said, you're trying to understand, you're trying to get some kind of meaning out of where there really isn't anything there to find.
Michael David Wilson (00:44:56): Yeah, and I think talking about the realism and the photos, this lends rather nicely into a topic that a patreon Brandon Simmons wants us to talk about. So I mean, you obviously write not just characters based on real people from your hometown, but you write actual real people into your stories. I mean, firstly, in terms of that, my understanding with your friends and your close contacts is you got their permission in terms of doing that. But I mean, what kind of creative licence were you given, and did you have to run different passages past them?
Richard Chizmar (00:45:48): No, I mean, my lifelong friends are, they're like family. In almost all those cases. It was just a matter of, Hey, you're in this book. Is that all right? Yeah, absolutely. But give me a bigger role no matter what I have, make me a bigger
Michael David Wilson (00:46:06): Character.
Richard Chizmar (00:46:09): Yeah. I mean, the lawyers, Simon, Schuster's lawyers are the ones that look through there. Anything that is remotely negative, trust me, I've been questioned over multiple times. All right, this isn't a real person. You say this person was a notorious cheapskate and had body odour. Is this a real person? No, I made that person up. Okay, good. The guys who are all playing football, are those your friends? Yeah. Nothing remotely questionable happens there, so they can be my real friends. So yeah, obviously for the pictures, I need release forms signed by everyone who's in there.
(00:46:51): I don't need that for the real people or the real places. Like I said, their legal department kind of goes over everything and makes sure it's okay. But yeah, the only person who doesn't want to be in the book is my wife, and she's stuck. She's not happy, and she refuses to read it until she says six or seven months after it's been out that way. Everyone who talks to her about it, she can say, I haven't read it, so they can't talk to her about it. She knows nothing about it other than the handful of details I've shared. And yeah, she's the only reluctant character.
Michael David Wilson (00:47:33): Right. Yeah, and I mean, Brandon wanted to know, and I suspect that this may apply to other books of yours and other stories rather than the Boogeyman more, although there will be some crossover, but he says, how do you go about writing characters that are based on people in your life, but without actually writing real people into your story? And how would you capture the way that they talk without it being obvious it was somebody you grew up with? And I know that you will have done this because this is what all of us writers do.
Richard Chizmar (00:48:17): Well, you know what? Yeah, it's interesting because yeah, I do think everyone does that, but are usually capturing such, even in a novel, you're capturing such a small slice of what that person is like. So unless you're duplicating their favourite sayings or the lightning bolt tattoo that they have on their right shoulder or the scar they have on the left to the left of their mouth or whatever, like I said, you're usually capturing such a small slice of 'em that it's usually not that evident. I wrote a story called Blood Brothers about a couple of brothers who, or adults now, and they were super close growing up super close right up and through the beginning of adulthood, and then they kind of went separate ways. One became the black sheep of the family ended up going to prison. The other one got married, had a baby, started a small business, and the bad guy, the bad brother gets out of jail, and then things happen.
(00:49:25): And I have, one of my best friends came to me after that story was published, and he said, I know that was about me in blank, his brother. I said, no, it absolutely wasn't about you. It was like, and he didn't care. He didn't care, but he just said, I know we inspired it. I said, no, you really didn't. Probably six months later, someone else I knew not. Like I said, this guy's one of my closest friends in the world, I'm still very close with, and he's mentioned in becoming the boogeyman. But probably six months down the road, someone who was just kind of acquaintance on the peripheral went to school with him in earlier days. He said the same thing. He goes, was that story inspired by me and my brother? It's like, absolutely not.
(00:50:08): Then I had a point out, you write a lot of stories about brothers that aren't, do you have a brother? And are you close? And I actually wrote about this in an afterward to one of my short stories. I said, yeah, my brother's 12 years older than me, much older joined the army was gone before I got too old, and we love each other to death, and if we were the bad apple and the good one, he would have to be the good one. He had retired military straight and narrow. I'm not the bad one, so there is no, I'm like, no, it's not modelled after that. But yeah, you're always pulling little bits and pieces, and sometimes I get a character in my head, I've got to write about this guy, and I'll think he reminds me a lot of Charlie, so a little bit of Charlie will go into him.
(00:50:54): But I've never, even all the short stories I've written, I've never really done that. I've never really had a secondary character that is 100% or even predominantly modelled after someone from real life until Boogie Man. That's part of the fun of being a fiction writer, is just making that stuff up. Now, people I've seen, things I've overheard, I've overheard phrases standing in line to get my food or that kind of thing, and boom, I've scribbled them in my phone right away and used them in a story or a script. And I say that quite often. I'm like, oh, I got to use that. And sometimes it's seeing somebody's mannerism or that kind of thing. But yeah, we're always scavenging the public.
Michael David Wilson (00:51:41): We regard think kids like a completely valid and actually exciting kind of creative writing prompt. You hear a snatch of dialogue and now you inform this entire person's life, this person's persona. And yeah, I mean, it would be very bizarre if you overheard something at the store and then you made up this character, and then it actually was exactly the way that their life had panned out. If it was, then it's like, hang on, I might want to tap into that. That could be some sort of power dive got that could make me a lot more money than writing fiction.
Richard Chizmar (00:52:21): And you know what? No telling how many readers out there have read a character in a story or a book or even seen him in a movie created by someone they have no connection to whatsoever and thought that guy's writing about me. I'm sure people have thought that before, but it does add that kind of extra cool dynamic when it's someone and you're thinking, Hey, I guess he talking about me. That kind of thing. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson (00:52:50): Yeah. I mean, I feel too, there's only a finite amount of good and bad actions. So I feel that we have probably both seen in a movie or read in a book like a character behaving in maybe an unscrupulous manner, and they get called out or it's drawn attention to and we think, shit, that's kind of similar to me. It might not be exactly, but it is like you feel seen or you've been caught.
Richard Chizmar (00:53:21): Right, right, exactly.
Michael David Wilson (00:53:23): But I, let's see. Now, so when we spoke before, so actually the last time we spoke, it was a little bit before the original Boogeyman book had came out, so it hadn't been released at that point, but you had spoke about this idea of potentially turning the Boogeyman story or something connected to it into a podcast. Is that something you're still considering or looking into?
Richard Chizmar (00:54:00): What That was back when I really wanted to kind of blair witch the audience. That's how I said it. And then they put the disclaimer in and put a novel on the front. And again, the legal department made me understand in a hurry that wasn't a good idea, even though tonnes of people still googled and believed it, which was wonderful. So yeah, that was one of those secondary ideas. I wanted to have. My oldest son, Billy, who's a filmmaker also as well as a writer, I wanted to have him do a documentary kind of like they did with the Blair Witch. They did the origin of the Blair Witch legend. And people believed it, and they thought, well, yeah, the movie was real life and this was real life. And I kind of wanted that to be there on the internet when people went to search and I was going to plant fake newspaper articles and a fake website that had been discontinued back in the nineties and that kind of thing. And that whole podcast idea was kind of similar, where I wanted to just play it completely straight and have people talking about these murders and Joshua Gallagher and have his old friends on the show and maybe a teacher and that kind of thing. But yeah, there hasn't been time to do that yet, but who knows, maybe down the road I think it would be interesting.
Michael David Wilson (00:55:18): Yeah, I feel in spite of having the books out and it clearly saying a novel, you could still blair Witch a podcast audience. I mean, for various reasons. I mean, number one, the podcast audience and the book audience are not necessarily the same audience. So I mean, there will be crossover, but there'll be a lot of people listening to the podcast who probably haven't even heard of the book, unfortunately, for us. Oh, for sure. Novel writing is a very niche kind of interest.
Richard Chizmar (00:55:53): But
Michael David Wilson (00:55:54): I mean,
Richard Chizmar (00:55:56): I was just saying Lester, ganger, Patterson or one of those guys, yeah, you're talking about a drop in the bucket compared to a lot of the other mediums out there, movies, film, television, and some of the podcasts. What I need is someone who wants to spearhead that and gets both books and goes through them in detailed and has character lists and then can kind of put together, and I would be willing to be on there as much as they needed and to play whatever role. And I know plenty of others would be too. But yeah, just the idea of putting it together and writing the scripts and all that would be, it's pretty daunting when I got too many deadlines right now,
Michael David Wilson (00:56:38): And when you've got a number of paid writing gigs, you need to make sure that someone's financing the podcast, which I mean, if you think about logistically the time that you'd need to put it together, it will probably take longer than just writing another novel.
Richard Chizmar (00:56:56): Yeah. It's interesting because on one hand, I think a good group of creative people could sit down and whip out the debut episode within a couple of weeks. You get a couple voice actors in there to talk, to be somebody who's got to be Carly Albright. I can be me, or they can have someone else be me however they want to do it. But I think it would be interesting, and I would be willing to put some finances behind it because I think it would do nothing but help sales of the books. And on one hand, that's kind of the beauty. If you're the guy in charge, you have complete control, so you can do everything the way you want it, but that's the thing. Yeah, too busy to do everything the way I want. So who knows, maybe down the road I'll find a partner and do it that way. Or maybe Billy. But Billy's starting to rack up a lot of writing deadlines himself, so I dunno if that time it's going to happen for him either.
Michael David Wilson (00:58:03): Yeah, yeah. And since we're talking about adaptations, is there any movement in terms of a potential film adaptation? Obviously we mentioned about the writer's strike at the start, but given that the Boogeyman books have now been out for, what, over two years, if we include the original, I imagine that conversations have happened.
Richard Chizmar (00:58:32): Yeah, there's been a lot of conversations, and I can't really go into too many details, but there's a director who's very passionately involved, and there's meetings and all that stuff, but right now, everything's on hold. So hopefully, hopefully when that situation fixes itself, there'll be news soon after.
Michael David Wilson (00:58:58): Yeah. And since we're talking about movies, I just want to check if this is true, and I expect it's just going to be an absolute yes, but you've got a very small reference to Ryan Lewis kind of harassing you to play online chess for absolutely. Months, and then you finally gave in, and he absolutely obliterated you. Can you confirm whether this is accurate and actually happened?
Richard Chizmar (00:59:28): It actually did not.
Michael David Wilson (00:59:30): It did not. I was so convinced. Yeah.
Richard Chizmar (00:59:33): Well, that's good. That means I did well, that means that it was believable. Yeah. I'm one of those guys who is just like, chess is a flipping mystery to me, and people have tried. So that is what would've happened if Ryan and I played, I'm sure. But yeah, it reminds me, I need to remind him that he's in the book that
Michael David Wilson (01:00:03): Has he not read that part then?
Richard Chizmar (01:00:06): You know what? I'm sure he has by now, but yeah, I forgot to bring it up again. But yeah, I was actually speaking to him about the next book, but yeah. Yeah, no, we won't talk about that scene too much. But it's just funny that you bought it because and why not? That is the way it would be. You bug someone forever, come on, let's do this, let's do this, and then you finally do it and you get your ass whipped and you're like, okay, never mind. That was fun. Done.
Michael David Wilson (01:00:40): I think my life lesson here is to stop buying bullshit stories about Ryan Lewis, because before I first spoke to him, max Booth thought it would be funny to convince me that he was really into electronic music. I had this meeting with Ryan and I was like, do you have any tips or any ideas talking about film adaptations? And he is like, well, all I can say is you really, really likes kind of hardcore electronic music. So if you reference that, then that could put in a good impression, and that's totally what Max Booth would do. And I should have known that the context that the kind of hat tip or the idea is it's Max Booth telling you this. I found out quickly that it's like he's not into that at all, but Ryan is a very friendly and amazing guy. So me trying to be, so I hear you. That's hardcore house music did not sully the relationship.
Richard Chizmar (01:02:02): That is hilarious. I love it.
Michael David Wilson (01:02:04): Yeah, yeah. But I mean, talking about this being a true crime homage, were there things that you put in place, particularly when you knew that it would be marketed as a novel to ensure that you didn't go down a more kind of hardy boys route? Was there ever a temptation to do that?
Richard Chizmar (01:02:30): No, not really. I mean, in fact, even as it was the Hardy Boys references that I make sure that I put a few in there because I wanted it to be right there on the surface that you guys are stepping over some lines a little bit. And I do know quite a few people who are in the police department and some detectives and that kind of thing. So I know that their sense of humour, I know their cynical kind of view of life, and I could just hear them right now, the amateur detectives, you guys are playing Hardy Boys, you think Nancy Drew and that kind of thing. So yeah, I knew right away that I had to cut that kind of thinking off at the pass, and so I threw myself under the bus there.
Michael David Wilson (01:03:22): Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, we've said that you've got a new two-book deal, an original book, and then this sequel. Are there any talks or thoughts about potentially doing a third Boogeyman book? Because I mean, obviously there was never the intention to do a second, but I feel once somebody does a second, it's then like, well, I've already book two. Maybe I could just do book three. And of course, from a marketing perspective, you can then potentially later repackage as a trilogy and particularly for the audio audience, and then sell it that way. So is there potential for a third?
Richard Chizmar (01:04:13): Sure. Yeah. And again, when I started this one, I had no thoughts of a third. I actually, at some point after the negotiations for the deal. I actually said, and don't worry, I'm not going to be writing about myself anymore. And then I got to the last chapter of becoming the Boogeyman, and I'll not say anything about it. I'll not give any hint, but the way the book ends is obviously could lead directly to a third.
Michael David Wilson (01:04:46): Yeah,
Richard Chizmar (01:04:47): I'm going to write a third at some point. Whether or not they want me to or not, I don't know. I imagine that'll come down to how the second book does. But to me, the story's not finished yet now, and there's some questions that need answering. So yeah, at some point I'll write the third one and see what happens. But right now, like I said, I'm finishing up this book called Memorials, and that's the last book of my contract. And then hopefully, well, actually today, it just got announced today in the trades that my son and I, Billy, we had written a novella a while back called Widow's Point, and we went to Simon, & Schuster to a gallery, and we proposed the idea of saying, Hey, this is like a 20 something thousand word novella, and we really envisioned it as the first, third or fourth of a full book of a full life novel.
(01:05:45): And they said, well, what do you think comes next? So we put together a short proposal and they bought it. So I'll finish memorials in the next three weeks. And then, like I said, I'm on the road for all of October and a little bit of November, and then sometime in December, Billy, and I'll start writing our Haunted Lighthouse book and turn that into Simon & Schuster. I was thinking, oh, I'm finished this two book contract, so what's next? But Widow's Point is what's next? And then after that, hopefully more books. I love the team there at Simon, & Schuster, so I hope to keep going and doing well for them. So we'll just wait and see.
Michael David Wilson (01:06:33): Yeah, yeah. And I mean, talking about your collaboration with Billy, this leads nicely into a question we've got from Alice Phelan via Patreon, who simply wants to know, do you have any recommendations when it comes to finding collaborators?
Richard Chizmar (01:06:55): I don't because, or actually I probably do, but the collaborations that I've all been involved in have been very natural kind of falling ins. It's like you're talking to someone and just like with Stephen King, you're talking about collaborating, but not with each other. You're just talking about collaborations in general. And then he mentions, Hey, I have the story. That's usually the way they've occurred. In some cases there's been, I've certainly given some thought. And you want to pick someone who you think that you're going to be able to meld your style, their style into one cohesive that, I think that's the biggest thing is just being able to weave your words with someone else's until there's a cohesive voice. You don't want it to be abrupt. You don't want people trying to figure out who wrote what and that kind of thing. So yeah, no magic formula, just, and also temperament.
(01:07:52): Who do you think you can work with? Who would you enjoy working with? I was with Stephen King last night, and he brought up and I said, we had fun. That was the most important thing. He was like, it really did. And if you're going to collaborate with someone, man, unless you're being paid a shitload of money to do a movie with someone or something like that, and you're down in the trenches and it's really work when you're talking about just doing a story or a book, make sure it's someone who you're going to have a good time with.
Michael David Wilson (01:08:23): Yeah. And I know that in previous episodes we spoke more at length about the collaboration with Stephen King and about the process, about how all that came about. So for people interested, definitely go back to those episodes, but I'm wondering, what do you envisage the collaborative process will look like with Billy for the new Haunted Lighthouse book?
Richard Chizmar (01:08:52): That's interesting because I don't know yet going in, I know on the first book, it was interesting because he really wanted me to provide most of the backstory, and then where his energy, he's a very high energy writer, gets the words down on paper quickly. He wanted to be more responsible for the part of that story where the main character is spiralling into insanity and things are just being kind of thrown out all over the place, and that kind of matched his strengths. So I don't know whether that's going to happen with this book, whether we're going to adapt a more linear way of, Hey, here's my twenty-five pages. You write the next twenty-five or not. But that's part of the exciting thing about it. That's what I would say to the person who asked that question is that's the feeling you want, which is like, you're like, you're rubbing your hands together going, aha, it's collaboration should be challenging, it should be fun. And it also be all about discovery and kind of making each other better. None of that stuff, trapping someone in a corner and making them write their way out of it. Now you're trying to build this endless story, and more than anything, it's about trust. Trust the other guy, trust the other person.
Michael David Wilson (01:10:11): Yeah. Yeah. No, I found when Bob and I collaborated on their watching, if we got trapped, we were trapped together. So we're then both kind of bouncing back, well, we've got ourselves into a situation, how the hell are we going to get out of it? Coming up with different things and invariably, the truth for the solution, it was something that came a little bit from me, a little bit from Bob. We wouldn't have arrived at that together if we were separately. It was only through being together. And I think that's kind of the point too. If you could have done the story on your own, then why are you collaborating
Richard Chizmar (01:10:55): And writing is such a solitary activity that that's kind of, again, the joy of it is you have someone things off of, and they're as invested in it as you are. It's not like you're just having to mention it to another writer friend, and they give you three minutes of their attention. Then they're worried about their own thing. In this case, their name's going on it too. And that's a fun thing, is kind of blue sky and pulling things in and out. The other thing, like I said, is trust and have that thick skin, have the ability to be able to told, no, I think I like this better, and make sure you're able to open your mind enough to consider that.
Michael David Wilson (01:11:36): Yeah, yeah. No, that makes total sense. And I mean, obviously you've said you've got a lot of different projects and plans in terms of creatively for the future. You said that Billy's work is really stacking up at the moment as well. So I mean, when you both work on this, does that become your main focus and everything else is kind of on hold or are you both working on this, but then you've also got your kind of solo work at the same time? Is there a deadline that is set when you want to have had the first draught done? I'm just wondering a little bit more in terms of the logistics and minutiae of it all.
Richard Chizmar (01:12:25): Yeah, I mean,
(01:12:27): We'll probably give ourselves a deadline to aim for and then not worry about it at all. But Billy will have other things to do because he has his Patreon page and he'll have to continue with his monthly postings. Something will come up for me. I will not start another book. This will be mainly come December. This will be my main focus. I know something will come up, someone will remind me, Hey, you promised me you would do this two years ago. And I'm like, oh, crap. So I'll squeeze that in. But no, this will be my main focus until we're finished, and then we'll see what's next. But yeah, we'll have to time it properly because Billy will have to take some time to make sure he posts on Patreon.
Michael David Wilson (01:13:13): Yeah. And what, if anything, can you tell us about this novel that you've almost finished writing?
Richard Chizmar (01:13:25): I can tell you it's called Memorials. It's an idea that I have had for a very long time. It's set back in the eighties again, like Chasing, the Boogeyman, I needed no technology and I needed it to also be an earlier kind of more innocent time. But the memorials of the title are these roadside memorials that you see that pop up pretty organically after there's a fatal accident or that type of thing. And I've always been fascinated with 'em and much in the same way as kind of my true crime fascination, where it's just like there's stories there. There's stories behind each one, and obviously there's sad stories. And then you see roadside memorials that are abandoned and the people stop going, which is its own weight for people to carry not only the people who are involved, but just people who drive by and walk by. They see it every day. It triggers some people from their own experiences. And that's one of the reasons why there's been all these different reasons that some eyesores to do away with them, everything from their eye source to they're dangerous because they're distracting to, they have triggering effects on some people, blah, blah, blah.
(01:14:49): But there's always been a fascination for me. And so the story that I'm writing is about three college students in 1983 who are, they're doing a school project. They're on a road trip, so it's a road trip novel. And as a school project, they're going to do a documentary on these roadside memorials. And they're doing video, they're doing photography, and then they're doing commentary. They're trying to find the story behind each one of these, the ones that they feature in their documentary. They're trying to talk to survivors, family members, friends. They're trying to tell the stories of the deceased in a really dignified way. And what happens is, because it's a horror novel, they start noticing some similarities that appear on many of these roadside memorials. And it's bad stuff and bad stuff begins to happen to them. And that's the book. It's a little bit like race with the devil, where the old movie with Fonda, where you see something you shouldn't, or you discover something you shouldn't. And it ties in a little bit with Chasing, the Boogeyman then, because of the way that he would leave mementos at those
Michael David Wilson (01:16:06): Memorials.
Richard Chizmar (01:16:08): So yeah, I've always had the idea of what if you were doing a study or a documentary on these, a series of roadside memorials over a pretty broad area, and you started noticing some troubling things that are similar to many of them, and the deeper you delve, the more danger you find yourself in. So that's the book, and it's a road trip happens over the space of a week. And I think it'll all come down to how much people like the three main characters, because then when bad things start happening, that's where you get 'em. But I love 'em. I love all three of them. I feel like I know 'em really well after however many months I've been working on. We'll see what I decide to do with them in the next few weeks.
Michael David Wilson (01:16:58): Yeah, and I can tell already, I mean, as you say, if you'd have set this today, it would be a radically different book than if you'd kind of set it in the eighties. And I do think apart from nostalgia, there probably is a reason why a lot of people kind of gravitate back to writing these books or these movies that are set in the seventies or eighties because you set some of these things today and you could just Google the solution to these different things. Well,
Richard Chizmar (01:17:35): That's the thing, and that's the thing in some ways, in some areas so far, I'm like, man, too bad we don't have Google. Because Google, in some ways could enrich the story because they could find they're not going to find the answers for what I'm presenting here. They're not going to find the answers on Google, but they're going to find enough stepping stones to help 'em. Instead, I have to have them going to libraries, looking at microfiche film and just talking to people. But I also, I wanted them to have to do that. That's part of the road trip angle, and who do you trust and who don't you trust and what's their intentions? And I didn't want 'em to have cell phones, and I didn't want 'em to have four K or whatever the hell technology, so all the answers are right there in front of their eyes. I wanted there to be questions. So I'm having a lot of fun with it, and it's one of the few things that I write, because I don't usually think in this way, but I'm like, yeah, this could definitely 100% be a movie, who knows? But yeah, I'm having fun. And like I said, for me, that's the key. When I'm finished and turn it in, it'll be something that I like, and then they can say whatever the hell they want about it on Goodreads. That's okay.
Michael David Wilson (01:18:51): Yeah. Well, I mean, if you think it could be a movie, then you got to have those conversations with Ryan Lewis then. And as long as he's not harping on about chess, which I'm hoping if I repeat that enough, then other people can fall for it and believe that actually every client with me too, we start a call and he's like, are you going to play me at chess yet, Michael? And it's like, no, Ryan, just settle down.
Richard Chizmar (01:19:21): Talk to him beforehand. I'm going to Google electronic music and I'm going to get them.
Michael David Wilson (01:19:26): Yeah, yeah, you got to do it. We need to make
Richard Chizmar (01:19:30): I hear you do it. What do you think about this?
Michael David Wilson (01:19:33): Talking
Richard Chizmar (01:19:34): About,
Michael David Wilson (01:19:36): Yeah, Ryan Lewis famous for his love of dubstep, and also a film manager. Sometimes
Richard Chizmar (01:19:45): I have a complete movie idea about this. What do you think?
Michael David Wilson (01:19:48): Yeah, yeah. Well, I'm wondering, I mean, we've spoke before and it's obviously widely known that Cemetery dance is where it all started for you. But I mean, what is your involvement with Cemetery dance these days?
Richard Chizmar (01:20:09): You know what? It depends on what I'm working on. I mean, I'm still the owner. I still go there all the time, but sometimes I'm just dropping checks off so that Mindy and Megan and them, Dan can mail 'em. My email box is still full with emails from Kevin and Dan and Mindy Megan and Hey, what about this? What about that? So my fingertips are still in there every day, but when I'm writing a book, man, I mean, when I wrote Chasing, the Boogeyman, I probably showed up once a week for three months and told them, leave me alone as much as you possibly can. Right now, we haven't really been able to do that. A lot of stuff going on, so I've had to do more. But yeah, I've got a good crew over there. So once we're all healthy, I had Covid recently, people have had flus and this and that, so it just feels like it's that time of year where everybody's back to school and kids are bringing you stuff and there's more germs in the grocery store and all that. But once we're all healthy and kind of moving at full speed, it'll be a little easier.
Michael David Wilson (01:21:18): And kind of pertaining to these different things that you have going on, I'm wondering, what does your writing routine look like these days, and what is a typical, if such a thing exists day for you in terms of the work that you're doing?
Richard Chizmar (01:21:36): Until recently, I never really had a typical day. The only way I could do everything that I need to do recently is to try to, I've always just written wherever, whenever I can write around noise, I can write around other people. I can write in the car while my wife's driving us somewhere with this book, I have started just getting up early in the morning and writing until noon or 2, 3, 1, somewhere in there. And then the afternoon, I'll run to the office real quick, do whatever there. And then I come home and I spend rest of the day catching up on emails and on promotion stuff for I've coming the Boogeyman. So I've had full days, long days, and once I finish this book, it'll be a little bit, well, it won't be easier right away. Like I said, my October is insane, but after that, it's going to be nice. I'm going to enjoy most of November. I'm going to have a nice thanksgiving, and then come December, we'll get back to work again.
Michael David Wilson (01:22:37): Yeah. What does the promotion look like in terms of the online events, the podcasts, and then the in-person events? And do you feel for yourself personally has living in this kind of post-covid world, if we can call it that, I mean, you know what I mean, for want of better phrasing? Do you think that has changed the way in which you go about promoting a book?
Richard Chizmar (01:23:10): It's interesting because I got Covid for the first time after doing a local convention here in Havity Grace, which is like 15, 20 minutes away. It was a great convention. We had a blast. I'll do it again next year. But like I said, I don't get out much. I did this because it was local and they were very kind to include me in a large way. And we sold a lot of books over the course of two days, and it was very crowded the first day. The second day was fairly crowded, but it never, I went to New York Comic Con and signed Chase and the Boogie Man last year. That was insane. I don't want to do that again. But this was nothing like that. But still, we came home within a couple days. My wife started feeling sick. She tested positive. I tested positive the next day. Billy tested positive three days later, so we were the House of Sickness for a couple weeks here. That makes me feel a lot better about going out and doing all the in-person promotion that I'll be doing in October, because I just came off of Covid, so I should be in pretty good.
(01:24:17): But yeah, I mean, I hadn't really put too much thought in there until this recent covid burst here on the East Coast. I thought we were kind of past that, and I still hand sanitise and all that, but it is what it is. I'll be careful. And obviously the podcasts and the radio appearances and all that are perfectly safe. And it's nice. I can literally be, I set the alarm on my phone and I could be out there doing yard work in 15 minutes beforehand, as long as I go put on a clean shirt and wash my face. But I think I have a dozen in-store appearances in October, and probably we'll be adding a couple more. So yeah, hopefully everyone's safe and smart, and we have fun and sell some books and tell some good stories.
Michael David Wilson (01:25:08): All right. Well, thank you so much for chatting to me today. This has as always been an absolute pleasure, and I really hope that becoming the Boogeyman is an absolute success for you and so much of a success that the third one, which you're already starting to map out, is guaranteed.
Richard Chizmar (01:25:30): Yes, me too. And I appreciate you asking me again, I always enjoy it and come back whenever you want.
Michael David Wilson (01:25:37): Alright, well, where can our listeners connect with you?
Richard Chizmar (01:25:43): Oh, well, as we mentioned earlier, I'm on Facebook all under my own name. You on Facebook, I'm on Instagram and Twitter, actually, I'm even on Tiktok. I don't know what I'm doing, and I don't put much on it. I have not danced or done any of that. Everyone always asks me put up a dancing video. I'm like, nah. But yeah. So yeah, you could find me on there and send me messages. Send me pictures of your dogs, whatever you want to do. I enjoy it.
Michael David Wilson (01:26:11): Yeah, we've got a tiktok too. I pretty much only post to it every three months or so. So yesterday was one of those times, so a special occasion for the Tiktok audience. But yeah, it's not really my scene or what I do, so honestly, it's just kind of clips from the podcast. That's the only way that I can do it, because if I start making a video specifically for Tiktok, and I've tried a few times, it just feels so inauthentic. It's like, that's not my personality at all. So really, it's just repurposing parts that a podcast is the only way I can do it.
Richard Chizmar (01:26:59): Yeah, no, I hear you the same thing. And Tiktok has been hugely influential with book marketing, but I haven't figured it out or really tried to yet. But maybe one day I'll delve deeper and see what's there. But I think, again, like you said, I think it's in the cases where it's been successful, I think it's been a very organic thing as opposed to super planned that doesn't come off as authentic.
Michael David Wilson (01:27:26): Right. Yeah,
Richard Chizmar (01:27:27): I'm here and yeah, I appreciate the support and like I said, I'll come back anytime.
Michael David Wilson (01:27:33): Yeah, yeah. Well, you're certainly very welcome. And hopefully for this new book that we've been speaking about, which I trust is out next year. Is that when it's kind of,
Richard Chizmar (01:27:47): I'm guessing next fall? I don't know that yet. I know they're already working on a cover, even though I haven't turned it in. But yeah, I'm excited. As soon as I have those details, I'll be posting them on all my socials.
Michael David Wilson (01:28:01): All right. Well, do you have any final thoughts for our listeners?
Richard Chizmar (01:28:06): No, just thank you for helping me be able to do what I do and for a living. I don't know what the heck else I'd be doing if I wasn't doing this. So I appreciate everyone's support and yeah, stay safe.
Michael David Wilson (01:28:23): Thank you so much for listening to this as horror. Join us again next time for another great episode. But if you want to get each and every episode ahead of the crowd, become our patron at patreon.com Forward slash This is horror. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you can submit questions to the interviewee. And we have a vast array of guests coming up. We have people like Clay, McLeod, Chapman, and Daniel Krause. Okay, before I wrap up, a quick advert break.
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Michael David Wilson (01:30:09): It is almost time to bring another episode to a close, but I wanted to remind you that my debut novel House of Bad Memories is out on Friday, the 13th of October via Cemetery Gates Media. And if you would like to get it for a special pre-order price, then head to Cemeterygatesmedia.com and pre-Order it today. Now, pre-orders will be closing soon, so do not delay on that one. And not only have I had some wonderful advanced blurbs from the likes of Eric Larocca, Jonathan Janz, Laurel Hightower, and David Moody to name, but a few. But I've also had some great early reviews from readers over on Goodreads Chandra. Claypool says, if you love Tarantino, this is the read for you. You'll enjoy a ramp-up of suspense and the beautiful torment within, I dunno, much about small British towns. But now I know to steer clear or maybe visit because I'm as demented as this author, be prepared for the ride of a lifetime and strap yourself in as the directions this author brings us on, will give us whiplash. Enjoy the pain readers.
(01:31:59): But thank you very much to Chandra Claypool for that amazing review. And Amanda says, this book is an outright bonkers ride that rockets into its own dimension of horrific brutality, utter devastation, gag-inducing nastiness, and bizarre twists, balanced by laugh-out-loud banter, and hilarious moments. To say that the reader feels whiplashed is a huge understatement. Yet it all works and works incredibly well. Think Tarantino film in British horror, thriller, novel format, infused with a dark hilarity that goes to nasty, horrifying, crazy, brutal places. If there is a proverbial line, this book obliterates it, or shall we say, draws an entirely new one. And reading those two reviews, or should I say sections of reviews, those aren't the complete reviews. Reading them aloud and side by side, I've realised that both reviewers have not only compared to writing to Tarantino, but said that you may suffer whiplash. So I guess strap in, put your seatbelt on for this to go a little bit.
(01:33:41): And if you like the sound, the House of Bad Memories, as I said, do please pre-order it, do it from Cemeterygatesmedia.com, and let me know how you get on. We are going to be doing a weekend podcasting on Friday, the 13th of October on Saturday, the 14th of October to celebrate the release. So there are plenty of details coming about that. There are going to be live podcasts, there are going to be podcasts that will be available throughout that weekend on YouTube. So make sure that you're subscribe there at This is Horror podcast, I believe. Well, all right, until next time, take care of yourselves, be good to one another, read horror, keep on writing, and have a great, great day.