My first three author interviews for the wonderful website Horror Tree have been with three of my top ten literary horror heroes: Jeff Strand, John Everson, and Bryan Smith. Not surprisingly, they’ve written three of my top ten favorite horror novels.
I’m a horror writer myself, but I’m a much bigger horror fan, so I approached my interviews as a fan of the authors. I take my own free time to do the interviews because I want horror readers like myself to experience the horrific joy of what I feel when reading these authors.
I want horror readers who grew up exploring the woods behind their house like me to read Strand’s Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Dweller. Because if you were like me as a kid in those woods, you secretly hoped to discover and befriend a creature of the forest like Bigfoot, didn’t you? Dweller captures that feeling better than any novel I’ve ever read. The main character Toby is me as a kid, and Strand gave me a heartfelt glimpse into the future if I’d met a Bigfoot-like creature by chronicling the lifelong friendship between a man and a monster. Dweller is sweet, horrifying, and heartbreaking.
I want horror readers who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s who devoured the occult horror films of the time like me to read Everson’s The 13th. Because if you were like me watching those films as a teenager, you wondered what you would do if a friend disappeared in an abandoned building shrouded in rumors of ritualistic sacrifice, didn’t you? The main character David is me as a teen, and I’d like to think I’d do what he did to try and save a friend. Plus The 13th has many of the ’70s and ’80s influences I love, like bloody occult rituals, a mad doctor, and an asylum. The 13th also boasts one of the best prologues (“Maitlin saw the whites of her eyes before anything else”) and one of the best endings in any horror novel I’ve ever read. Everson’s Covenant won a Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel, and his NightWhere was nominated for another Stoker. Both are awesome, but The 13th remains my favorite Everson book.
I want horror readers who grew up fans of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes like me to read Smith’s Depraved. Because if you were like me watching those films as a teenager, you wondered what you would do in those extremely intense situations, didn’t you? Would you stick around to help a friend about to be hacked up by a crazed inbred hillbilly cannibal with a chainsaw or would you run? The first two chapters of Depraved masterfully set up one of the wildest rides in horror I’ve ever experienced. Smith’s novella Kill For Satan! won a 2019 Splatterpunk Award, but I can’t help but think Depraved would’ve been a landslide winner for Best Novel if there would’ve been such an award ten years ago. Frankly, I thought Depraved deserved a Bram Stoker Award nomination at the very least.
So that’s why I enjoy interviewing horror authors for Horror Tree. Because maybe I can turn you on to a new favorite writer or book that captures your particular joy for a particular horror, whether that be a Bigfoot buddy, a bloody occult ritual, or a town of inbred hillbilly cannibals from Tennessee.
By the way, if you’re driving through Tennessee and see a sign for Hopkins Bend, you may want to take the long way around. Trust me.
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