–What was the first monster that scared/moved you?
First monster I can actually recall scaring me was probably Michael Myers from Halloween. Either him, or Linda Blair from The Exorcist. If not her, then it was probably the vampire kid scratching at the window in ‘Salem’s Lot. As you can tell, I have a bit of a shit memory.
–Does a great monster have to evoke pity as well as fear?
I don’t think it has to, but it helps if you want the viewer/reader to feel for it, or for it to have a deeper impact on someone. I think pity in a monster matters less as a kid than it does as an adult. As a kid, fear is easier to develop; as we grow up, we become jaded and we know there aren’t any monsters in our closets or under our beds, so there needs to be something more to the monsters for them to have a lasting effect on us.
–If you could be a monster, which one would you choose and why?
I like the idea of being massive and stomping on cities and shit. So I’d wanna be Godzilla or something along those lines. I’d actually love to be one of the towns in Clive Barker’s “In the Hills, the Cities.” I know they’re made up of a pile of people, but I want to be that pile of people.
–King Kong, or Godzilla?
No contest: Godzilla, hands down.
–What are the challenges of writing about a monster, as opposed to showing it on film?
Writing about a monster is maybe more difficult ’cause you need to evoke fear in the reader—at least to a certain extent. And it can’t all be summed up in one glance, like it can be in film. You need to describe it on the page. You also need to decide (as you do in film) how much you’re going to show. I think monsters work best when we don’t see fully see them. Leaves it more to the imagination, which usually is worse than anything a writer/director could show you.
–Who are the new monsters of the 21st century? Recommend a monster story/book/movie from the past ten years.
I don’t know about new monsters, per se, but the kind of human monster in Tony Burgess’s People Live Still in Cashtown Corners (blatant CZP plug, that’s right!) is one of the scariest to me: a serial killer whose mind just doesn’t work properly, so there’s no way to reason with it. You can’t convince a killer like that not to do what he does. There’s no empathy there. No compassion to appeal to. If he decides, for whatever bizarre reason, that he needs to kill you, then you’re dead. Unless you can kill him first. But there’s no middle ground in those situations. It’s you or him. And the trouble with people like that is that they appear to be human, so you afford them general human qualities and characteristics.