By: Violet Tempest
It’s April, in the year 2020, and so far it’s been a doozy. A lot of us are self-quarantined in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the C.O.V.I.D-19 virus, otherwise known as the Coronavirus. During this time of turmoil, with so much gloom and doom in the media and worry in our households, we seek to escape. What better way to that than with a good book?
Some will reach for Literature Fiction, others to Romance, Mystery, Thriller, Adventure, or even True Crime, while some of us will reach for a good Horror novel to curl up with.
As an author of Gothic Horror and sometimes the occasional Gothic Romance, I understand the latter type because we see the world as having far more thorns than rose petals. So we take comfort in knowing that the horror story we are escaping into can mimic what’s going on in the real world while giving us the satisfaction of catching the killer, eradicating the deadly virus, exorcising the demon, banishing the ghost; all while we remain safe and sound in our homes. What can I say, some of us prefer fictional terror to the real thing. Insert smile and wink here.
One of my favorite authors, who also happens to write Horror, is Grady Hendrix, so when I heard that he’d written another novel I jumped at the chance to interview him for this blog.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr. Grady Hendrix, author, fellow South Carolinian, and all-around great guy.
V: Tell us a bit about yourself.
G: I’m just a guy who writes books and movies, mostly horror.
V: Modest. I like that. I got to meet you in person at the YALL Fest in Charleston, SC a few years back. I had a copy of My Best Friend’s Exorcism and even though you were in a hurry to get to your next panel, you stopped and took the time to talk to me when I approached you about autographing my copy. Honestly, I had expected maybe a rush autograph, if any at all, since there was another panel you had to get to, but you took the time to talk to me and my friend for a few minutes, and personalized the autograph. That’s when I realized that not only are you a superb writer but also a down-to-earth, nice guy.
That is also when I wanted to know more about you, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Which leads us to the next question: When did you start to write and why?
G: When I was a kid I wanted to direct movies, but the equipment was too expensive, and I didn’t understand how to operate it anyways so I started directing plays. Halfway through college, I realized that I was spending most of my time making sure people learned their lines and showed up on time, so I needed something to do that didn’t rely on anyone else. Enter writing, the loneliest art.
V: It sure is. I’ve heard that we writers are one of the few groups on the planet who seek out isolation. Well, I for one am glad you decided to find something that didn’t rely on other people. But if I may ask, why horror?
G: I just write. I don’t think too much about the market, but the more I wrote the clearer it became that I needed a genre that was really elastic and could encompass anything, from killer babies to spooky pants, and that turned out to be horror. Besides, it’s the only genre that spends time talking about death, which is sort of the most important thing in our lives.
V: True. I hadn’t looked at death in that way, but you are correct. We all lose someone we love because their time comes before we do. Which is scary. So learning how to deal with that is an important part of our lives.
Speaking of scary, what is the first book you read that scared you?
G: Books don’t scare me. Why would I have a job that I hate to show up for in the morning, or that scares me too much to spend a long time at it? I find stories about ghosts and haunted houses and skeleton doctors really comforting.
V: Interesting. Your answer goes along with I wrote in the introduction to this post. There are some of us that prefer the fictional horror stories to real life.
Well, that brings us to your recent book. What is the title of your current story?
G: My new novel is The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, whichis coming out on April 7th, right in the middle of plague season. It’s about a book club in South Carolina, where I’m from, who become convinced that their new neighbor is a vampire, and they decide they need to Take Steps. This turns out to be a very bad idea.
It’s set in the same neighborhood as My Best Friend’s Exorcism, a few years later in the early Nineties, but where MYBFEX was about teenage friendship, this book is about adult friendship which turns out to be a tougher, stronger, and more complicated thing. As an adult you don’t necessarily like your friends, but they put up with your garbage, so you put up with theirs. That’s the deal, as far as I can tell.
V: Interesting. I preordered my copy and can’t wait to read it. Can you tell us what inspired you to write it?
G: Growing up, I always hated my mom’s book club because they jest seemed to be a lot of silly housewives. Getting to know those women as adults really opened my eyes, so I wanted to write a book about them, and about the process of going from dismissing them to being impressed by them.
V: What other books have you written?
G: A lot. You can find them all, as well as more information than you probably wanted to know about me, over at www.gradyhendrix.com.
V: Thank you Grady for taking the time to answer my questions. I look forward to reading, then reviewing, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.
To my readers, stay tuned for my review of Grady Hendrix’s newest release. Until then, don’t forget to hop on over to his website and order your copy. Let’s learn how to slay those vampires the southern way together.