By G.L. Giles
Peter Straub is the legendary author of the best-selling novel “Ghost Story,” which has been lauded by many (including Stephen King) and was also made into the widely acclaimed 1981 film with the same name.
Though Straub is well-known for his other horror/fantasy novels, like “The Talisman” and “Black House” (both collaborations with Stephen King), he’s also written very well-received poetry, essays, thrillers, etc. His notable awards include the World Fantasy Award, the International Horror Guild Award and the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel (for “A Dark Matter,” which was published in 2010).
He’s also Guest of Honor at Killer Nashville, which will be held August 24-26, 2012. Killer Nashville is a truly unique convention that brings writers, fans of crime and thriller literature and even forensic experts together.
You are known to many people as the incomparable master of the horror genre, so what constitutes a great horror read? For example, is a gradual building up of psychological suspense more important than gratuitous gore?
-That question really answers itself, so let’s look at things from a slightly different angle. A truly satisfying horror novel, I think, would contain a nicely slow-building sense of dread, an atmosphere that feels slightly claustrophobic, some profound moral shocks, real 3-D living characters, an at least partial release of the accumulated dread and tension. You want the experience of having lived through some amazing if quite unhappy experience that cannot quite be defined.
Do horror and humor ever make good bedmates? If so, then is it only to a certain degree—as in, not too campy?
-Unless a sort of farce is what you’re looking for, campiness isn’t going to work at all. (You could have an ineffably campy character, though.) However, humor can almost always be of use in a horror novel—sometimes, one skates very near the absurd. And there are varying degrees of humor, after all. Graveyard humor, dark and dry and completely wised-up, sound like a winner to me.
You’ve written in the both the supernatural and non-supernatural veins. Which one are you most challenged by and why?
-Believe me, they are both plenty challenging. If the supernatural is an element, you have to make it absolutely convincing for at least as long as the book s being read. If that element is not part of the fabric, you must charge the human interactions with the energy and power the supernatural would contribute.
Do you already know what topics you’ll be discussing at Killer Nashville this year? What day and time are you speaking?
On Saturday starting at approximately 2:40 p.m. I will be interviewed by the founder of Killer Nashville, Clay Stafford. Later that day at approximately 3:50 p.m. I will participate in a discussion on the topic “Your Writing Future in a Changing Industry.”
You’ll also be signing books at the convention. Which books are you currently promoting? Will your book signing event be right after your presentation?
-I’m not promoting any new book right now, but I hope book dealers at Killer Nashville will lay in some copies of “A Dark Matter” and “Mrs. God,” my most recent books.
What can you tell us about your projects in the pipeline?
-I have written about 150 pages of a long crazy thing called “The Smell Of Fire.” It’s taken me two years to write those pages. With luck, I might finish this book sometime late in 2013.
Where can Target Audience Magazine readers connect with you and your wonderful work? (social networking sites, etc.)
-I’m on Twitter as @peterstraubnyc and also on Facebook. They have a fan page for me, too. You could learn a lot about me from www.peterstraub.net, (though it is not very up to date).