On behalf of Halloweenpalooza, thanks so much for agreeing to participate. Let’s start with some quickies:
Favorite color: Blue
Male or female friends: Female
Guilty pleasure: None. I never feel guilty when pleasure is involved.
Favorite Halloween candy: Mini Snickers
Have you ever carved a pumpkin: Many, many times.
Would you let the police search your basement: Sure, as long as they had no illusions of coming back out of there.
Favorite horror movie: John Carpenter’s THE THING.
1. Since there are so many types of horror, can you please tell us about your work? What can a reader expect when he picks up a story written by Kealan Patrick Burke?
Hopefully entertainment and a lot of unsettling moments. I’m less interested in the literary equivalent of the jump scare than I am the psychology of the characters, the ways in which our own minds become haunted houses and we become the ghosts haunting them. I’m also a big fan of inverting tropes and expectations, of taking familiar ideas/situations/setups and introducing elements and devices that turn them upside down.
2. Could you please post an excerpt from any of your works that best exemplifies what you bring to the horror picnic table?
Sure. This is the opening of my novella JACK & JILL:
My brother and I stand on the verge of one of two graveyards that swell up from hallowed ground to form lofty cross-studded hills overlooking the town in which we have spent most of our young lives. It has never been explained why the dead are buried at such a height, for surely it would make more sense to secret them away in some gated meadow in the valley rather than in plain view of the townsfolk, who could live quite happily without the reminder of what awaits them.
Mayberry has seen its fair share of tragedy. The people walk slightly stooped as if shouldering the weight of loss, their eyes cast downward to avoid registering the twin verdant rises that obscure the sun at dawn and dusk. There is a peculiar smell to this place, like a coat that has been hung up wet and discovered in a closet years later, a sense of age it is not old enough to have earned.
Gothic churches stand sentinel on street corners, facing taverns and pizza joints, and intimidating no one. The houses sag and creak in the shadow of gnarled branches that look like the arthritic hands of apathetic mothers. At the bandstand, stubbornly holding court between a Romanesque town hall and a bank, and looking out over a concrete lot long awaiting development by a planning committee who no longer cares, sits a violinist, who makes up songs as she goes. Her music fills the air, and she never repeats a tune.
This is our town.
3. What scares you? Have you had any encounters with the supernatural? Up for a ghost hunting session?
The idea of losing loved ones scares me terribly, as does the idea of losing myself, my mind, my identity, and just waking up one day with no idea who or what I am. I don’t believe in ghosts outside of regret, and the ones we conjure up for ourselves. But yes, always up for a ghost hunting session, not because I believe we’ll find anything, but for the fun and the mood of it all.
4. Stalkers! What fictional stalker was most memorable and why?
Yikes, that's a tough one because there are so many. It's a favorite subgenre of mine in both movies and books, so I could probably list about two dozen from both. In books, I'd go with Harry Powell from Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb, Max Cady from Cape Fear, by John D. MacDonald, Frederick Clegg from John Fowles' The Collector, and Annie Wilkes from Stephen King's Misery. In films, I'd choose Max Cady again from Cape Fear (remake), Sy Parrish from One Hour Photo, Alexandra Forrest in Fatal Attraction, and John Ryder in The Hitcher (original).
5. I don’t know what it is, but out of all your work, SOUR CANDY just scares the sh*t out of me! Even the cover … I look at it and get the shakes. Could you tell us something about that novel and how it came to be?
It’s based on an event that I imagine is pretty common to all of us: You go to a store like Walmart and you hear a kid screaming in the aisles, going absolutely apeshit while the parent tries to control the situation, and all the shoppers are staring. The last time I encountered this, I wondered what would happen if, instead of feeling sorry for the mother and staring like so many other people, I got home and found that kid waiting for me, claiming he was my son and altering reality to accommodate that claim. It took about a year or so before the idea returned to me fully formed and ready to be written, but it was such a blast to write, and the reception to it has been phenomenal, which I suspect is because it deals with how difficult it can be as a parent, and also the fear of having children for those of us who’ve never had one of our own.
6. I understand that your novel PEEKERS is being made into a motion picture. What’s the best part of having your novel adapted into film? What’s the worst?
The best part is when a producer comes to you excited to make a movie out of something you’ve written and paying you for the privilege, then watching the process as it all starts to coalesce. The worst is watching the project stall and/or die. This has happened for me more times than I can count, and PEEKERS unfortunately looks as if it may be the latest casualty. There are, however, other projects that are much further along in the process, including one that is so close I wish I could talk about it. Alas, I have to wait for official announcements before I say anything. Plus, as I have learned the hard way, in Hollywood there is no such thing as almost. There’s a movie or there’s nothing, and at any given time, your project can end up either side of that line. But, fingers crossed I’ll have more news to share by year’s end. And if not, I still have the option money.
7. Uh oh! You hear a noise in the basement. You go to investigate and find you’re not alone. It’s one of the characters you created sprung to life. Which one would you most not want it to be and why?
I don’t think I’d want it to be any of the characters from my novels, but at the very top of the list would be Papa-In-Gray or Momma-In-Bed from KIN.
8. In terms of Halloween, what’s your best memory of the holiday?
Winning the boy scout costume competition. My mother made me a monk costume from some old bedsheets, painted my face white and my eyes black and gave me a candle to hold in front of me as I walked. It terrified everyone I met, so winning the costume competition at the end of the night was just gravy. I remember being so excited, and then my mother’s faux outrage because I ate all the candy I’d been awarded as a prize. We closed the night by watching horror movies until well after my bedtime. It’s a sweet memory I think of often.
9. Fan feedback. Do you love it? Hate it? What’s the best thing a reader has said or done?
Love it, but that’s generally because people who really hate your books rarely feel compelled to write to you about it. I hear from a lot of my readers and it always brightens my day, particularly when they tell me that something I wrote truly resonated with them. One of the best was an email from a reader who told me that after reading one of my books she badgered her husband into reading it. The guy hadn’t voluntarily read a book in his life, but after mine, he found his passion for it inflamed and after working his way through my backlog, joined his local library. Last I heard he was reading three books a week. Hearing that you had a hand in getting someone excited about reading is about the highest honor there is.
10. What’s next for Kealan Patrick Burke? What can your fans look forward to reading?
There are lots of new stories on the way in various magazines and anthologies, and I’m currently deep into writing a psychological horror novel about troubled teens. Like so many things, that’s unfortunately all I can say about that for now.
GIVEAWAYWOO HOO!!!! Today we have a giveaway of the book I mentioned above! Yup, the one that terrifies me—and I’m sure it will do the same to you! Up for grabs are FIVE ECOPIES (mobi) of SOUR CANDY!!!! *shudder* You know the drill … if you want it click on back to the FB Event Page (using top or bottom event pics) and comment, “I WANT TO WIN!” in today’s Featured Author post dated 10/23!!! Good luck!!!
SOUR CANDY (Yikes!!!!)
At first glance, Phil Pendleton and his son Adam are just an ordinary father and son, no different from any other. They take walks in the park together, visit county fairs, museums, and zoos, and eat together overlooking the lake. Some might say the father is a little too accommodating given the lack of discipline when the child loses his temper in public. Some might say he spoils his son by allowing him to eat candy whenever he wants and set his own bedtimes. Some might say that such leniency is starting to take its toll on the father, given how his health has declined.
What no one knows is that Phil is a prisoner, and that up until a few weeks ago and a chance encounter at a grocery store, he had never seen the child before in his life.
A new novella from the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of THE TURTLE BOY and KIN.
AUTHOR BIOBorn and raised in a small harbor town in the south of Ireland, Kealan Patrick Burke knew from a very early age that he was going to be a horror writer. The combination of an ancient locale, a horror-loving mother, and a family full of storytellers, made it inevitable that he would end up telling stories for a living. Since those formative years, he has written five novels, over a hundred short stories, six collections, and edited four acclaimed anthologies. In 2004, he was honored with the Bram Stoker Award for his novella The Turtle Boy.
Kealan has worked as a waiter, a drama teacher, a mapmaker, a security guard, an assembly-line worker at Apple Computers, a salesman (for a day), a bartender, landscape gardener, vocalist in a grunge band, curriculum content editor, fiction editor at Gothic.net, and, most recently, a fraud investigator.
When not writing, Kealan designs book covers through his company Elderlemon Design.
A movie based on his short story "Peekers" is currently in development as a major motion picture.