Tell us a bit about “Blood Drip”. How did you come to write it?
I’d written another story called “Black Bark” which was a kind of nightmarish piece with an inset story, in which the telling of the story itself is extremely unsettling to one of the characters (and, hopefully, to the reader). In the frame of the story, there’s brief mention of one of the character’s injured legs creating a kind of bloody, human-like form on the side of his horse, which he calls a blood angel. That image stuck with me. “The Blood Drip” began with the idea of writing something in which that image would be part of an unsettling story told by a character, rather than part of the frame story. “Black Bark” opens my story collection A Collapse of Horses and “The Blood Drip” closes it, and I think reading the stories that way, as echoes of each other, tends to make readers feel a little bit like they’re going crazy in a way analogous to the characters within both stories.
“Something’s wrong,” thought Karsten, “but the worst part of it is that I don’t know for certain what or how much.” This quote could also serve as a summary, of sorts, of “Blood Drip”—the reader knows from the beginning that something is wrong, and spends the length of the story finding out what. Can you talk a bit about the role of suspense in horror?
That sentence could kind of serve as a summary for most of my reading. The horror that has the strongest impact on me has always been horror in which suspense is primary and gets coupled with a kind of dread, so that you feel sure that something is wrong, but that you’re only touching the tip of the iceberg. A friend of mine and I were talking about how disappointing most horror movies are when the monster you’ve been seeing bits and pieces of is finally revealed: it’s almost always a disappointment. It’s much more frightening when you only partly know what’s there, what’s tearing up the world around you, and can’t quite take it in. I can only think of a small handful of movies in which that reveal isn’t a disappointment: The Thing for instance, but it’s not a disappointment there because the creature is protean, is never quite something you can pin down. Fiction, too, has the advantage of never having to completely reveal the monster, of being able to keep us suspended in doubt.
What are you working on these days? Any upcoming publications or exciting projects you’d like to tell readers about?
I just published a novella with Tor.com called “The Warren,” which is probably best described as existential SF horror. Under the name B.K. Evenson, I just finished co-writing a novel with James DeMonaco, director of The Purge, which will be out in April. I’m also about halfway toward completing a new collection of stories.
If you had to be the villain from a horror novel, which one would you choose?
It’s pushing the boundary a little bit of what horror is, but I’d say Judge Holden of Blood Meridian. I find him a terrifying and fascinating figure, and many-faceted. Or, if you want to go with a more clearly horror-based choice, I’d say Eli in Let the Right One In, who I find very appealing. I’m also very fond of Dick Dart in Peter Straub’s The Hellfire Club, but I wouldn’t want to be him exactly . . .
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