Todd Grimson [Interview]

Todd GrimsonIn so many ways, horror novels can be far more frightening and breath taking than films any day of the week.  This is simply because the imagination is a hell of a thing, and the visuals you create in your head can be far more disturbing than anything Wes Craven or John Carpenter could even try to imagine.  And you know you have found a great horror writer when you find yourself taking a moment to pause and ask yourself – what the hell were THEY thinking when the were even creating this frightening stuff.

And with us today is one of the day’s finest horror and occult writers of the modern age, Todd Grimson.  Grimson has produced an abundance of wonderful tales of zombies, vampires, all the stuff that just scares the hell out of most us when done properly.  And properly is exactly how this brilliant mind does it.  In a day and age so obsessed with ruining the ancient tradition of horror, we should be so lucky that this man exists.  And we were fortunate enough to be able to steal few words from the man himself to discuss his latest books,

You started out working in hospitals, which semmingly had a major impact on your writing.  What do you think affected you most about this labor? 

The experiences were different. First came almost 2 years in Surgical Intensive Care Unit, where I overcame squeamishness about blood and seeing people in pain…..and watched, many times, people die. I was 24, 25 yrs old. I held one patient’s hand while he flatlined, tried to see if I could feel the moment When. Meanwhile I was reading medical textbooks and (at home, living downstairs from a cocaine-dealer) playing classical piano with improvisations. Then, after a year of unemployment in between, I worked nights in the Emergency Room, which was much more of a social job, interacting with those who’d had violence done them, or their drunken friends, Friday and Saturday nights, getting to know homicide detectives and uniformed police. It never crossed my mind that I might write about this constant inflow of experience, not until some years had gone by.

Describe your time in Tangier with Paul Bowles? Any similarities between Burroughs and Kerouac in their heyday?

It was funny that I became friends with Bowles. It happened because we argued about Huey Long, and then began laughing about it. Ordinarily Bowles was extremely reserved (albeit polite) with those who talked with him about literary matters. It seemed to me that many at that time were more interested in his dead wife, Jane, than in Paul. Also, he was quite surprised I had actually read all of his novels and stories not just The Sheltering Sky.

How did it feel to have your strange dreams put to paper in Brand New Cherry Flavor?BNCFsm

This has always been my approach to writing. I never really had much interest in journalism per se, in being a reporter. I wanted instead to discover new landscapes and geographies, mysteries others ignored or could not describe. So much of journalism seems to me to fall into the trap of following conventional psychology in order to “fit in” – which basically means writing about things the reader already knows and accepts before or without really reading the text. Just so, people read reviews rather than approaching material with fresh eyes and making judgments on their own.

Besides the obvious adult oriented content, what sets your writing apart from the likes of, say, Stephanie Meyer or Anne Rice?

Realism. I try to be realistic. Anne Rice, for instance, in Interview With A Vampire, had three characters, vampires, living in early 1800s New Orleans, each killing one victim apiece every night. New Orleans was not that heavily populated then, but even now, the numbers make the scenario ridiculous. What happened to all the bodies? Why did each bite instantly kill rather than wound? I talked a lot with some physicians I knew, trying to make things more realistic – while still basically sticking to the “vampire rules” as established by Bram Stoker, even if I subtracted the supernatural elements.

Which do you find more fascinating in the realm of the undead – zombies or vampires – and why?

Zombies might as well just be a pack of wild dogs. There’s no psychological element, other than” “Oh, my friend’s been bitten! How long should I wait before shooting them in the head?”

Aside from your own, what was your favorite book of 2012?

I really liked Nam Le’s The Boat , whenever that came out. I always enjoy the stories of Deborah Eisenberg, and anything Dennis Cooper does. I’ve recently become interested in Robert Bolano.

Tell us a bit about your most recent release, Stabs At Happiness.

Todd Grimson2It’s a collection of thirteen stories, at least three of which are novella length. The pieces range in setting from Havana in 1958 to unmapped portions of the Amazon to Tangier in the 1980s. You never what world or atmosphere you might find yourself entering within each story. I tried, in writing each piece, to truly experiment, and sometimes this led me into milieux and mindsets unlike anywhere I or the reader have ever been – except perhaps in true dream-worlds… dream-worlds not in the sense of fantasy exactly but maybe finding oneself in the sheer strangeness of San Francisco’s underground nightclubs and secret societies of 1932.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Watching the Greek film Dogtooth the other night, when one of the daughters of this very isolated, odd family performs a unique, crazed version of Jennifer Beals’ famous dance at the finale of Flashdance. This is really something that has to be seen to be believed.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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