When I first scheduled this interview with author Grady Hendrix, I was expecting him to be much more tongue-in-cheek about the subject of horror in print. He had named his book Paperbacks from Hell, and started his history of horror novels with The Little People and its unique creation, Gestopochauns – Nazi leprechauns. Plus, he has so much fun describing the outlandish plots of some of these books. Take, for example, this gem, in which he describes Jeffrey Konvitz’s The Sentinel:
Young Alison ran away but her father chased her down and tried to strangle her with a crucifix necklace, sending her into a fainting, barfing frenzy that ended only when she kicked him in the nards and renounced the church.
The book can seem like Mystery Science Theater for print at times. And just as Joel Hodgson and company adore the movies they riff on, and the idea of movies in general, Hendrix loves his books, no matter how over-the-top or offensive they may be. Hendrix appreciates not only the classics like Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby and Joan Samson’s The Auctioneer but also the unbound imagination it took to conjure up demon puppets or write five books about killer crabs.
“One of the things I take really, really seriously with this book is a lot of these authors are really legitimately good authors, and some are batshit crazy who wrote batshit crazy books, but they’ve been forgotten,” he says. “This is what they left behind. They’ve retired, some have died. This is their legacy, and I feel like in a way, my job is to introduce readers to these sort of forgotten authors and sort of take care of this flame and keep it burning.”
Hendrix writes his own novels, as well. He released My Best Friend’s Exorcism in July, and frequently publishes short fiction and nonfiction pieces. There is a definite sense of humor in everything Hendrix writes, but he’s dedicated to making sure what he puts on the page feels real to the reader. Which is why he braved his fear of the dark by sitting in the basement of his apartment building to know what his characters would feel like in Horrorstor, his novel about a haunted IKEA.
“When it’s time to pull out the scares in horror, I always feel like the ways people fail the most is they don’t dig deep enough,” he says. “You make something scary not by taking it super seriously, you make it scary by really knowing it and conveying that experience.”
You can find all of his writing at GradyHendrix.com.
After the conversation, stay tuned for “Welcome to the Land of Bad Magic,” a great sludgy, riffy track from Hound’s new album, Born Under 76. If you like your guitars loud, low, and fuzzy, Hound is the band for you. Find out more about them on their BandCamp site or the Let’s Pretend Records Web site.
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