Saturday, October 31, 2015


On behalf of Halloweenpalooza, thanks so much for agreeing to participate. Id like to start with a few quickies thatll help us get to know you a little better.
Favorite color: orange, which I hear is the new black.
Favorite food: coffee with cream.
Favorite horror movie: The Innocents, although one of my favorites is the Chucky doll series, primarily because when I was in my mid-20s in Hollywood, I knew Don Mancini who was in his early 20s had just written the first original script, which was genius, and Don was himself remarkable (still is) and he’s gone on to really create an icon in the horror movie genre with his famous doll. So for that reason alone, Chucky will always be a favorite.
Favorite scream queen: Nancy Allen in the Brian DePalma movie Blow-Out has a great scream queen moment and also brought poignancy to a role that otherwise would’ve been a bit thankless. She’s an actress who hasn’t really gotten her due for her past work – from Carrie to Dressed to Kill, she really had wonderful moments in those movies.
Favorite film scene (one that made you get all queasy scream for help ): I tend to never get queasy in movies but if I did I wouldn’t define that as a favorite scene or even a favorite movie. I wish I had a better answer.  Among favorite horror movies, there’s this scene in a recent movie called The Awakening, near the opening of the movie – a wonderful séance scene, that plays  out beautifully. Another recent movie called The Canal has this wonderfully ballsy and horrifying horror moment in its last seconds that is barely seen but the implication of its horror lingers. In another movie called Jamie Marks is Dead there’s a ghost haunting the house in which she murdered someone and all you hear are the sounds of the night of horror. Really wonderful.  I love when a movie’s creator or team gets very creative in setting up a sense of darkness. I prefer that to anything over-the-top or some flashy CGI effects.
Guilty Pleasure: No pleasures should be guilty. 
Have you ever carved a pumpkin: Once or twice, but I’ve always felt bad for the pumpkin and never enjoyed the experience.
Favorite place to write: wherever I am. Somewhere near my husband (but not the same room). Usually with a dog at my feet and a cat near my shoulder.
Favorite monster:  Catherine, the mother in Steinbeck’s East of Eden.
1.          What’s the best thing about writing horror?
The act of writing stories I want to write.
2.         In terms of Halloween, was it/is it a big part of your life? Do you have any memories that standout?
A few, but I enjoy it primarily because of its mythology and also because it takes place in October. I think everyone has a season they feel most alive during. For me, it’s mid-September through December first. Although I love a good summer, it’s that moment when the leaves turn color, when you need to put on a sweater to go for a walk, when – here in New England – the maple syrup runs, the apples ripen, the sea-coast is at its dramatic best, and the word “brisk” describes everything. And of course, the wonderful night of Halloween when the kids come by for candy and I get to see the great costumes.
3.     What is it that attracts you to writing horror? Why did you choose that genre?
I didn’t choose.  I just started writing stories that interested me when I was a little kid, and supernatural stories intrigued me the most.
I begin writing about someone, or a place, and then a story comes from it, and I often think I’m writing a love story but then it goes very, very dark.
I don’t think of it as horror anymore, I think of it as dark fiction – which extends to fairy tales and fables, fantasy, suspense and pretty much any other area. “Horror” means different things to different people, and what shocks or scares one person may do nothing for another. The idea of fiction that journeys into a dark place, that’s what interests me. I write mostly to get the words right, for clarity, for rhythm, to create a narrative and explore the human condition within a dark world, to translate my imagination into language.

I honestly mainly write in order to give my days a sense of meaning. To me, that’s the main value of work and spending time at all. Other people do other things in order to achieve that.
4.         Since you’re the author of several acclaimed novels, could you please post an excerpt where you think nailed it and done horror proud?
To me, a story or novel is taken as a whole and the effect of one part isn’t achieved in an excerpt but in the mounting story that leads to it. I also know that when I’ve looked for the place where a great author has nailed the horror in a story I find this actually never works in isolation from the pages that preceded that moment.  
In fact, the horror scene in isolation nearly always seem ludicrous (with some exceptions, including the opening paragraph of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House). You need context for horror to genuinely be horrifying. It’s the same in romance fiction – you isolate the love scene and of course you can make fun of it – but if that scene works it’s because of the way the writer created tension in getting there. Same with murder mysteries and many other types of fiction. The big moment is meaningless without what led to it.
The suspension of disbelief is important in all fiction (and non-fiction), but in horror fiction, it’s absolutely vital, and to achieve that effect, the writer has to build to the most unbelievable moment.
5.   What scares you?
The uncontrollable future. But it also delights me. Also, the engraving of the past on current thoughts – both a curse and a boon, depending on the day.
6.         Have you had any encounters with the supernatural? What do you think of people who experiment with occult items like the Ouija board?
Yes, at least once. It was in a house my parents owned in California at one point and I was spending some time there while waiting (hoping) for my first novel to be published (which it was, a few months later).
 I’d be falling asleep some nights and see this old farmer in a straw hat looking in at me from the doorway as if he didn’t know why I was there. The second I got a sense of his features, he wasn’t there.
 I thought it was a moment of hypnagogia.
Never mentioned it to my parents. Then, one day someone visited the house. I sat in the living room with my parents and this someone (I can’t remember who it was now) asked if I’d ever seen a ghost. I said, “Yes, in this house,” and as I was about to mention what I’d seen, my mother quickly said, “The old farmer with the hat?”

She’d never mentioned this before. Nor had I. She’s seen him too, at the doorway to her bedroom. I’d never even heard my parents discuss ghosts or ghost stories or anything like it. Took my breath away. It was exactly what I’d experienced. We had a sense he was a benevolent presence. The house was an old adobe ranch that had been built in the ‘20s, and was large for an old adobe – a huge Spanish courtyard, three bedrooms, reflecting pool, on the edge of the orange groves. Really beautiful. But apparently one of its former owners or workers still checked in on the house now and then. It’s in Redlands, California, up in the hills from town.
And what do I think of people who experiment with occult items? I don’t think about it. People can do what they want. I love the beauty of a good Ouija board, though, and the idea that, on this board game, you can talk to the dead. How cool would that be?
My mother gave us kids a Ouija board when I was about 8 or 9. Never heard from any of the dead, but I suspect the dead aren’t that interested in kids asking inane questions.
7.         If you could spend one night alone at a haunted hotspot, where would it be and what would you bring along?
I would want to stay at a haunted hotel so I could sleep in a nice bed and order good room service. I’d prefer a haunted Hilton or maybe even a W Hotel.  I’d bring along earplugs because I prefer sleep to visitations.
I’d love to live in a genuinely haunted house again, though. Our current home is too new, although someone has always died somewhere in this world, even where new houses have been built.
8.         What do you hope your readers take away from reading one of your novels? What do you hope to get across—other than full-blown panic?
I don’t hope to offer full-blown panic to anyone. I just hope they feel they’ve read a great story. I don’t ask much more from any story I read, so I hope the same for my readers.
9.         If you could channel one master of horror that’s passed, who would it be and what do you think the result of your collaboration would be?
I wouldn’t want to channel anyone. I like writing my stories by myself. I’d love to meet Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne and Mary Shelley and  Isak Dinesen and Truman Capote and Tom Tryon and Ira Levin…but mainly to tell them how much I’ve loved their fiction and perhaps to learn a thing or two.
I’m just not a collaborator when it comes to writing fiction; maybe that’ll change someday, but writing is the one area in life where I don’t need to compromise with anyone.
10.    One last thing, what’s next for Douglas Clegg? Please tell us all about any upcoming work. 
I’ve worked in private on more than a dozen stories for several years now. I’ve not published much new work for awhile, which has bothered me but I also think it’s been wise to hold It back a bit, too.  But I’ve been writing like mad for several years and I guess I could mention at least one of these.
There’s a short novel called Mr. Darkness I’ve worked on for several years. It’s probably the most unusual story I’ve written, yet it’s a very traditional novel in some ways. It’s a dark fable of sorts, about the life of a girl from a very young age to her late teens, and the curse that has been with her family that she internalizes in some way. The “Mr. Darkness” of the title is more an idea than a person, although there is a person she will call Mr. Darkness.  But she lives in Manhattan with her mother, father and brother until one day, something terrible happens to change every single aspect of her life.
Mr. Darkness originally was scheduled for publication years ago as a novelette – I suppose about 9,000 words would’ve done it but I’ve never been able to write something to any length other than what the story itself demands of me.
This particular story kept changing in my mind as I dug deeper and deeper into who this girl was, this girl named Mina Grigsby, how she saw her life, who she felt were enemies of her family, how she tried to fix things…and as it grew, it changed and kept moving in a direction I ‘d never have thought of, until finally, it’s become a short novel in the 250 page range.

It’s not a commercial novel at all, and sometimes I wonder: who is going to read this? But it’s been owed to the publisher (Cemetery Dance) for years, and my life has had twists and turns during those times as I’ve approached fiction as: is this the truest story it can be? Is this really what she went through? Can I bring the richest experience of her life into language for the reader to live inside this story and love being there? Part of fiction is occupying character, not as an actor, but as a kind of transfer. I need to see from the character’s eyes. I need to experience it.

So that’s what’s coming up. Might already be out by the time Halloween rolls around, who knows.
Douglas Clegg is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Neverland, The Priest of Blood, The Children's Hour, among many other novels and collections. He has written many books and more short stories. Recently, he wrote a new introduction for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for the Signet Classics edition and released the short novella, Dinner with the Cannibal Sisters, the novelette Funerary Rites, and the ebook mega-collection, Lights Out.

ONE HARDCOVER of Douglas Clegg’s WILD THINGS: FOUR TALES! Because this is a print copy, winners are limited to U.S. and Canada!
To win: go to the Official FB Event Page; find the post announcing  today’s giveaway; and comment, “I WANT TO WIN” in that post and you just might!!!
Wild things: four talEs
"Clegg (The Machinery of Night) shows how the bestial aspects of horror and humanity are interchangeable in this quartet of psychological suspense stories....riveting reading." -- Publishers Weekly.
From award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Douglas Clegg comes a special quartet of stories dealing with creatures of the wild— wolf, bird, and the most terrifying of beasts: the human variety.
Suspense and Horror Tales
·        In "The Wolf" a hunter guides a younger man up a mountain to track down the creature that has been slaughtering in the valley below.
·        "The American" takes place at a late-night cafe in Rome where foreigners gather. On this particular night a stranger steps out of the shadowy park to sit at the sidewalk tables and speak of love and murder.
·        In "A Madness of Starlings," a father, teaching his children about protection from the predators of life, takes in a fledgling bird. But when it's time for the bird to fly away, the forces of nature come undone and a secret wisdom and terror enter the mind of the one who understands the language of birds.
·        In the novellette, "The Dark Game," a war hero and his men are captured and taken into a prison camp. There, tortures and torments await them, but the man named Gordon Raglan begins to use a childhood game of escape to help him discover a way to hunt the wolves surrounding him.

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