Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Nonfiction

Author Spotlight: Chet Williamson

What was the impetus for “The Music of the Dark Time”?

I’d been listening to Beethoven’s late string quartets, and the image came to me of the prisoner/musicians who played in the death camps playing that particular work, and the story grew out of that.

This is a powerful story dealing with unspeakable, real-life horror — the use of music by Nazis in concentration camps to terrorize, humiliate, and pacify prisoners, combined with the modern day horror of a psychologically fragile survivor being forced to re-live the experience for someone else’s economic gain. Was it difficult to write?

Not really. I usually think about stories for some time before I begin to write, and the story was worked out fully in my mind before I started.

Are you a classical music fan, or was that something you had to research for this piece?

I’m a huge classical music fan. I’ve listened to and enjoyed it ever since I was a child. I play piano, and am a trained singer. My wife plays first stand violin in the Hershey Symphony Orchestra, so we’re really into classical.

As well as being a prolific, award winning author, you’re an accomplished actor. Would you say being an actor informs your writing in any way, or vice versa?

It does. I think coming to writing out of acting has made my work far more character-oriented. For me, character is the most important element. I like to climb inside characters’ skins and try and think and react as they would.

What do you have in the works at the moment?

A new short story collection, The Night Listener and Others, is out from PS Publishing; Borderlands Press is doing my Little Blue Book of Bibliomancy, and next year will see the release of Psycho: Sanitarium from St. Martin’s Press. It’s the first sequel to Robert Bloch’s Psycho since Bloch himself, and it takes place immediately after the events of Psycho. It was a dream to be able to use Norman Bates, one of the true icons of fiction, as a character.

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Erika Holt

Erika Holt

Nightmare assistant editor Erika Holt lives in Calgary, Alberta, where she writes and edits speculative fiction. Her stories appear in several anthologies including Not Our Kind, What Fates Impose, and Evolve Two: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead. She is also co-editor of two anthologies from EDGE and Absolute XPress: Rigor Amortis, about sexy, amorous zombies, and Broken Time Blues, featuring such oddities as 1920s burlesque dancers and bootlegging chickens. Find her at erikaholt.com or on Twitter as @erikaholt.