Hey, peoples! Winter is the perfect reading time because it’s too cold to do much else (seriously, why don’t humans hibernate?), and I’ve been doing A LOT of reading!
One book that has skyrocketed to Unforgettable status was Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts. You can see my full review here, but to summarize, I’ll never be the same person I was before I read this book!
I reached out to Paul on Twitter to gush at him, and he’s such a cool, classy dude, that he responded back! Not all authors do that. (Side note – I’m a happy-go-lucky author, so you can totally hit me up on social media!)
Anyway, I asked Paul if he would be willing to be interviewed, and he said YES! Fangirl squee!!! Read on!
Me: Hey, Paul! You’re on the board of directors for the Shirley Jackson Awards, an author who was (and still is) amazingly badass. What’s your favorite Shirley Jackson novel or short story…and go!
Paul: She’s the best! My favorite Jackson novel is WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE. Merry’s name is certainly a hap-tip to Merricat Blackwood. My favorite short story is “The Intoxicated.” It’s such a wonderfully understated social missive and quite frightening as well. I wrote a bit about Jackson and “The Intoxicated” here: https://thelittlesleep.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/shirley-jackson-an-appreciation/
Me: We Have Always Lived in the Castle is good! I haven’t read “The Intoxicated”, but I’ll remedy that! Moving on, have you or have you not ever been possessed by a demon?
Paul: I have not. As far as I know. Maybe I’ve been possessed my whole life. That would be weird, eh?
Me: Why do you suppose that is?
Paul: Because there’s no such thing as demons and possession. *knock on wood*
Me: If you say so. Your portrayal of an eight-year-old girl is astonishingly accurate. How did you come up with the character of Merry?
Paul: Thank you! I do think that writing kids is a strength of mine. Many of my short stories (and novels for that matter) are from the point of view of children or parents dealing with children. I’ve been a high school teacher by day for a long time and I’ve never really left school-year calendar. So I live like a kid still. And, my daughter was a great model for Merry. She was the same age as Merry when I was writing the book and much of her shenanigans (and my son’s too) made it into the book.
Me: Very cool. A Head Full of Ghosts is on its way to the big screen. (Yay!!!) What’s that like? Will you be involved in the production of the movie at all?
Paul: It’s in development and hopefully it makes it to production and the big screen. Regardless, the possibilities and process so far has been exciting, and kind of surreal. I won’t be officially involved but the two screenwriters chat with me and keep me in the loop, which is a lot of fun. I rewarded them with immortality by combining them into a single character in a short story that I just wrote. Nothing nice really happens to their characters, so, I’m not sure how rewarded they feel. Wait, I’ll tell them how they should feel….
Me: Do you watch much reality television?
Paul: Not so much these days. I used to watch many of the faux-science reality shows mentioned in the novel. And I’ll admit that I used to watch Survivor all the time.
Me: You’re a very friendly author. Please explain.
Paul: I’m possessed by a demon and I want to infect as many other people as possible.
That’s nice of you to say. We writers are stuck in our own heads so much of the time it makes sense to me to try to be social and have fun online. But I do have my enemies. I have a list!
Me: I have a list, too, and one day my enemies will be made into characters in my books! *insert evil laugh* What kind of research did you do regarding exorcisms? Google? Interviews? A combination of both?
Paul: Aside from a life spent watching horror movies and reading books I did all my research online. I really don’t enjoy research. Feels like work. It is work! I’d rather make it all up. But I did research the text of the catholic rite and other oddities related to exorcism.
Me: Do you have any weird writing quirks?
Paul: I use the blood of my aforementioned enemies as ink!
Nah, nothing weird that I’m aware of. Maybe that I frequently write to the soundtrack of the movie Ravenous. I don’t know if it’s weird but regardless if it’s a novel or short story, I start writing in the beginning and work my way though in order to the end. I never skip ahead or around and write scenes out of their order. Sometimes I wish I could be more free-flowing like that. And sometimes I wish my keyboard was made of chocolate.
Me: Hmm, a chocolate keyboard…I think I’ll go with intravenous chocolate instead! Do you consider yourself a pioneer or a settler? Why?
Paul: Settler. I hate moving. It’s the worst.
Me: Fair enough. What kind of jobs have you had, and which one do you miss the most?
Paul: For most of my adult life I’ve been a math teacher and coach (JV high school basketball, middle school football). In my younger days I worked as a material handler on a Parker Brothers assembly line, unloaded trucks filled with toys and games, spent two weeks testing a Nintendo game that never made it to market (Drac’s Night Out), and the worst job was being part of a clean-up crew at a Kraft food service warehouse. I don’t really miss any of those jobs, and I don’t miss the one I currently have.
Me: What are you going to do right after this interview?
Paul: Either continue reading Stephen Graham Jones’s forthcoming novel MONGRELS or continue to pick through my last pass pages for Disappearance at Devil’s Rock.
Me: Which comes out June 21st, people! Don’t forget it! What’s your favorite drink, alcoholic or otherwise?
Paul: I try not to drink it much anymore, but Coke. Not Pepsi. Pepsi sucks. I’m a recent tea convert as well. Some kind of flavored black tea works. With honey. And then there’s beer. I’ve been on a Belgian style kick lately.
Mmm, beer. Mmm, chocolate. Well, time to go! Thank you SO much, Paul, for being here!