Following on from yesterday's review, here's an interview with the author, Peter Adam Salomon. And a giveaway!
-Why do you read scary things?
Actually, I don’t read them just to be scared. Yes, being scared is fun but the best part to me is that there’s always a vulnerability in the best horror where you can imagine yourself in whatever situation the author has created. That vulnerability amazes me, the ability to draw the reader fully within the world of the novel and not only make them shiver but make them think.
And sometimes thinking is the most horrifying thing of all.
-What flavour of scary do you like reading about-paranormal creatures, serial killers, chill up your spine hauntings, or something different?
I suppose I’m supposed to answer ‘serial killers’ here since HENRY FRANKS does deal with one, but, really, that’s just a part of it. Yes, the scariest book I’ve ever read deals with a serial killer (I’ll get to that later in the interview) but my favorite flavor of ‘scary’ is simply anything firmly grounded in reality. I want to believe in the horrors. That doesn’t discount the paranormal or hauntings, just that the ‘reality’ that the author creates in the world of the book needs to feel ‘real’ to me for the scares to work on me. If that makes sense. Here, I’ll use a movie to help me explain this: Alien. Yes, from a purely ‘reality’ based perspective, there are no space ships, no aliens found (yet), there’s virtually zero of our current reality in this. But it’s still as scary as any movie every filmed. Why? Because within the structure of the movie, the reality of that structure is believably pure and terrifying. The scares are richly earned and almost non-stop. Yet there are a number of Alien copycat movies that are more laughable than horrifying. To me that’s a function of the believability within the framework of the piece, whether it’s a movie or a novel.
-Out of everything in the world, what do you find scary?
A locked room (or any other place/location I am unable to get out of). Being trapped is, to me, even too horrifying to write about. I’ve toyed with the idea of using that in a book but shiver just at the thought of it. Maybe someday.
-If you could insert yourself into any horror novel, which would it be, who would you be, and why?
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus and I’d want to be Captain Walton. First off, it’s always good to survive a horror novel and the Captain lives. Secondly, Walton is a writer at heart and is left, at the end of the book, with a tremendous mystery still to solve: what happens after the monster floats away. To me, there’s more to be told in the tale and that part, I believe, would be the story of Captain Walton’s future (read Susan Heyboer O’Keefe’s Frankenstein’s Monster for one take on this mystery)
-Classic (pre-1970s) or modern horror-which do you prefer and why?
To me it’s easier to read contemporary horror due to the common language (some older books have a markedly different version of English) but I find the older horror novels to be more terrifying. Perhaps that goes back to the creepiness that I prefer. But I find both classic and modern horror to be wonderful when done well.
-What's the scariest thing you've read to this day?
I think the best way to answer this is to set the stage for WHERE and WHEN I read this book. It was the late 80s, I was on a trip to Iceland with my mother and sister and couldn’t sleep due to the jet lag. So, since I didn’t want to keep them up I took the elevator down to the lobby of the hotel, figuring there had to be something to do in the middle of the night in a hotel in the middle of Reykjavik, right?
So very wrong.
When I got to the lobby every light was off except for a couple of exit signs. In this cavernous, enormous lobby it was almost pitch black save for a little moonlight fighting though the storm clouds outside. In the middle of the lobby was a small sitting area, with a very slim selection of English-language reading material. So, I sat down, turned on the small floor lamp next to the chair and grabbed the only thing that looked interesting. A very new copy of a brand new book that I’d never heard of before: The Silence Of The Lambs.
For the rest of the night, I sat all alone in a giant empty dark room reading one of the scariest books ever written. As a teenager. Scared out of my mind. While the hotel settled around me and a snowstorm raged outside. When the sun rose I was still there. Why? Because I was literally too scared to turn the light off and make my way in the dark to the elevator lit only be exit signs.
Nothing will ever match that exquisite combination of book and place. I started reading with no knowledge of what the book was even about so it all added to the sense of isolation and horror. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so relieved for the dawn.
-What books scared you most as a child?
Poe. I was given a big book of Poe when I was in elementary school and my parents didn’t think I was ready for it so they put it with their books. Well, I wasn’t going to stand for that so whenever I could I’d sneak it down and read it. Which, of course, meant I was pretty much only reading it late at night or when I was otherwise all alone in the house. Making every terrifying story just that much more terrifying.
-What do you do to celebrate Halloween?
Since my due date was originally Halloween and I was born 3 days late, most of my early birthday parties were costume parties so I grew up with a sort of combined Halloween/birthday celebration thing going on. Now that I have kids, we do a lot of decorating as well as the whole trick-or-treating. They love it and I enjoy their excitement about the whole thing.
-Any fun Halloween stories you have to tell us?
When my wife and I were celebrating one of our first Halloweens together she wanted to go all out with the decorations, which was fine with me. Until she brought up carving the pumpkin. I was all set to carve out a few triangles with a big knife, all simple and old-school. Well, she was having NONE of that. She brought home not just a big pumpkin but one of those carving books, back when they were rather uncommon. I spent hours whining (um, I mean carving) a painstakingly hand traced cat with an arched back that turned out far better than it had any right to. I took a number of pictures but unfortunately the only one I was able to find well over a decade later is one where the pumpkin was in the background, so it’s attached.
- Why did you choose to write a horror novel/include horror aspects into your novel?
I have always been drawn to the shadows in my writing. I’ve been writing poetry for decades and actually have one poem that I’ve been repeatedly told can not only never be published but shouldn’t even be posted online for free. It’s simply too dark. Now, admittedly, a part of that is due to the fact that HENRY FRANKS is Young Adult and, therefore, a VERY mature poem isn’t the best posting on a YA author’s blog but the fact remains that even a lot of the poetry I write tends to the darkness. Actually, prior to HENRY FRANKS I wrote an adult horror novel that dealt with such severe levels of darkness that’s it’s close to unreadable.
With that said, HENRY and everything else I’ve written aren’t ‘horror’ just for the scares. Actually most of the gruesome stuff is implied more than shown. I always like the subtle horror that crawls under your skin while you’re not paying attention more than the scares that make you jump out of your seat.
I prefer creepy, moody hauntings that make you keep looking over your shoulder trying to see into the shadows around you, wondering what’s there watching, waiting. Always waiting.
-What's the scariest thing you'd write about?
For both the poem and the adult horror novel I mention above what I think truly makes them terrifying is that both are written from the point of view of what would be considered ‘the bad guy.’ With the poem, there is no redeeming feature, no question of the evil guilt of that character. In the novel, on the other hand, I worked very hard to create a moment in the book where the reader would, for just a moment, realize they wanted the bad guy to win. And then, right after that realization sinks in, the reader usually wanted to go take a very long shower. It was that creepy of a moment.
I think, one day, I’d like to try to write that ‘trapped’ novel and see how far I can take the imagery in the book so that the reader truly feels as trapped as the characters.
-How much inspiration do you take from other horror writers?
Actually, probably the most inspiring horror novel to me is probably Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. It’s such a small, intimate, real situation that could really happen and deals with that sense of being trapped and unable to escape so well. It’s truly creepy because of that. Made me want to write horror.
-Have you ever had any creepy dreams you want to tell us about?
I have always had what I call ‘abandonment’ dreams, which in a lot of cases tie into the ‘trapped’ dreams. Perhaps the creepiest dream I’ve had was in college where I dreamed that I was on death row and just kept repeating ‘I don’t want to die’ over and over again but no one could hear me. That dream had such an intense impact on me that 20 years later it actually influenced HENRY FRANKS and the line ‘I don’t want to die’ is actually in the book.
- You have a very pretty photo tour of Henry Franks on your site
Thanks for the compliment but the wonderful pictures were all taken by the very talented amateur photographer Jon Cohen. And he took the pictures specifically for me, after reading an early version of the book and with me making suggestions of what kind of pictures I was looking for.
He did a wonderful job capturing different scenes from the book and I’d love to see more pictures, either from him or from other readers to add to the tour.
-Any other spooky books you want to share?
I just finished NERVE by Jeanne Ryan, which was published the week after HENRY FRANKS came out. It’s a technological stalker kind of thriller that has non-stop action, well worth reading.
Finally, a giveaway! 2 copies of Henry Franks. To UK addresses only. Be 13 or over. Good luck!