Can you tell me a little bit about how “10/31: Bloody Mary” came to be?
I’ve always loved post-apocalyptic stories, and I had an idea for a world where (basically) the things that go bump in the night crossed over one Halloween and took over. For me the best way to give that premise a test-drive was to write a story, and “10/31: Bloody Mary” was the result.
“10/31” starts from what could be a goofy premise and turns it into a dark, post-apocalyptic tale. Was it difficult to strike the right balance between the Halloween elements and going over the top?
Filmmaker Ken Russell once said: “I don’t believe there’s any virtue in understatement.” Which means that sometimes you just have to go for it, and that was a big part of the game in this story. Of course, the other part is making an investment in the reality of what you’re creating, no matter how over-the-top it is. So it’s always about striking a balance, or taking a tightrope walk, or carving a path with a double-edged knife—grab the metaphor of your choice and run with it (like a pair of scissors). For me, that’s a big part of a writer’s job, and a constant when working with the supernatural.
Halloween seems to be something of a recurring theme in your work. Is it just a natural affinity for a horror writer, or do you have a personal fondness for Halloween?
Both. When I wrote Dark Harvest, I figured that novel was going to pretty much be 1) my love letter to Halloween and 2) my final word on the subject. But it turned out that Dark Harvest opened a door in my imagination, and I’ve found there are more stories waiting there.
What are you working on these days? Any upcoming publications readers should keep an eye out for?
I’m working on Oktober Shadows, a project for Cemetery Dance. Besides that there are a few new stories in the pipeline, including one called “The Mummy’s Heart.” That one’s both a small-town noir and a trick-or-treat Valentine. It’s in Paula Guran’s Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre.
Do you have any personal spooky Halloween experiences to share?
I don’t trust people wearing masks. On any night of the year. And my definition of “mask” isn’t necessarily limited to a hunk of plastic purchased at your local Spirit Halloween Store. Because the scariest masks are the ones made of flesh and blood and muscle and bone—but you probably already knew that.
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