It’s 2022 and horror author Jeff Strand now lives in Chattanooga. But he still watches Survivor, his cat Chaos is still spoiled, and he’s still writing his unique blend of horror and comedy.
What else? Oh, he won a Bram Stoker Award!
Yes, after four Stoker nominations between 2006 and 2012, Strand earned his first win during the 2021 awards ceremony on May 14 in Denver, Colorado. Strand’s novella “Twentieth Anniversary Screening” won for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction.
Never one to measure success by awards, Strand admits winning a Stoker ranks high on his list of career achievements.
“It’s up there, for sure,” Strand said. “There was a little bit of an out-of-body experience while giving my acceptance speech, and I was in a mild state of shock afterward … but it also never bothered me to lose, and if I’d lost a fifth time, I would’ve been perfectly happy to congratulate the winner. It was more ‘Hey, this is really cool!’ than ‘YES! Finally!’ It’s a great honor, but the idea that I don’t put any of my self-worth into awards doesn’t change now that I’ve won. Oh, I’m thrilled that I won. It’s going to look great on a resume. I’m definitely going to put ‘Bram Stoker Award Winner’ on my book covers until the end of time. But it’s not really a ‘This is what I’ve been seeking to achieve since the beginning of my career!’ thing.”
Next on the awards calendar for Strand is the 2022 Splatterpunk Awards in August, where his short story “Next Best Baker” is a nominee. Strand previously won the short story category for “Tipping Point” at the 2018 Splatterpunk Awards.
So, where does Strand keep his Stoker?
“I have a display case in my living room,” he said. “It will join such treasures as my Splatterpunk Award and the trophy I won at Necon for successfully identifying one-star reviews of my own work.”
With the memory of his big night still fresh, what better time to check on one of my favorite authors and learn what’s happening in Strand land.
Without further ado, here’s my exclusive interview via email with Bram Stoker Award-winning author Jeff Strand.
What has you glued to the TV nowadays?
42 seasons in, I’m still a Survivor fanatic. Better Call Saul is having a great final season, and I’m looking forward to the return of What We Do in the Shadows and Derry Girls.
What’s the last movie you watched that you’d recommend?
The Hoot Owl, which I saw at the Nooga Underground Film Festival. It’s a slow burn — so slow that there’s a point where I wondered “How can the entire cast of characters still be alive?” — but when it goes insane in its final act, it goes insane.
What and where is the best food you’ve eaten since you moved to Chattanooga?
Taconooga. Incredible Mexican food. The guacamole with mango is outstanding. If you ever visit, lunch is on me.
What’s the last joke you heard that made you laugh?
Because the night is a blur, I can’t remember any one specific joke, but Kevin Wetmore’s monologue as emcee of the Bram Stoker Awards was hilarious.
What’s Chaos’s favorite toy to play with?
Chaos, my gigantic cat, has a catnip-scented toy bottle of wine. He’ll roll on his back and clutch it between his front paws, giving the appearance that he’s a raging alcoholic. The human form of Chaos would live a life of hedonism and excess.
You recently moved from Atlanta, Georgia, to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Why did you and your wife decide to make the move to Chattanooga and what’s the biggest difference between it and Atlanta so far?
We moved to Atlanta because my wife — Lynne Hansen — was building a career in the film industry. But shortly after the move, her art career exploded. Having authors and publishers pay her to make book covers was far more appealing than the endless series of film meetings, 99 percent of which are a waste of time, so she turned her focus entirely to art. Various circumstances kept us in Atlanta, but when we finally decided to move, we had a few different options, including moving back to Florida. We’d liked Chattanooga a lot during our visits, and it was close enough to Atlanta that we wouldn’t be abandoning all of our friends there, so Chattanooga was the winner!
The biggest difference? Traffic. Atlanta traffic sucks. Every time we drive back to Atlanta we give praise for no longer dealing with that nightmare.
In November, you released your latest novel Deathless, a sequel to your 2006 Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Pressure. You typically don’t write sequels – Andrew Mayhem and Wolf Hunt being the exceptions. Why after 15 years did you revisit Alex Fletcher in the aftermath of his horrific encounters with the evil Darren Rust?
It felt like the right time. Pressure covers about 15 years, and I wanted Deathless to cover about the same amount of time (though it ended up being shorter) so the gap between the two books made sense. I’d actually started a Pressure sequel not too long after the first book came out but didn’t get much further than the prologue. This time, I reached out to Earthling Publications (who published the hardcover edition of the first book) to see if they wanted the sequel. When Paul Miller said yes, this forced me to write Deathless!
In December, you played a dead body lying in the back of a truck for a short film titled “Moonlight Sonata, With Scissors” directed by Chris Ethridge. How did you prepare for that role and when can we see the film?
I prepared for my role by trying to be as lazy as possible. On the set, I was made up to look freshly dead. The makeup was done so well that when I posted a picture of myself on social media with the caption “Dead,” some people thought I was just having a terrible night and responded with expressions of sympathy. I wanted to look like a dead body, not a sleeping one, so I purposely contorted myself into an uncomfortable, unnatural position. This meant that my arms fell asleep, and I lay there in agony during the shoot, but it will be worth it if viewers think I look convincingly deceased. Though there are big plans for the film, I’m not at liberty to discuss them without sinister men showing up at my front door.
2021 not only saw the release of Deathless but publisher Thunderstorm Books announced your Gleefully Macabre imprint, giving at least a dozen of your previously published books distinct limited-edition releases. Can you top that in 2022? What can Strand fans expect this year?
I can definitely top it, but as with the previous question, I can’t really blab about any of the cool stuff that’s going on. I’m a terrible interviewee. “Oh, look at me, I have sooooooo many secrets! Tee-hee!” Sorry. And this is the last question of the interview. We’re ending on a bummer note. Will you ever interview me again …?
Visit jeffstrand.com for more about the author and the secrets he can tell.