For the last two days, the boys have been having all the fun, talking about what literary tales of terror have had them shivering, shaking and quaking. So for today’s installment of 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN we’re changing it up and picking the brain of Janet Joyce Holden, author of the vampire series Origins of Blood (Crossroads Press), novels Carousel and its sequel The Only Red Is Blood (Omnium Gatherum), and a number of short stories in various anthologies.
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31 Days of Halloween… with Janet Joyce Holden
Describe a time when a scene in a horror novel really unnerved you.
My most recent (and therefore most memorable) unnerving arrived while reading Laird Barron’s collection The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, in particular during his sublime, chilling story “The Redfield Girls.” It’s beautifully crafted. Set on the Olympic Peninsula (familiar territory to Barron readers), it has a strong, dependable female cast who shrug off layer after layer of disquiet as they attempt to enjoy their annual get-together, on this occasion at the shores of Crescent Lake. Ghost stories, dead ancestors, family history, all shadowed by a dark, sinister forest and deep water that could hide just about anything. Book-ended by scenes of stormy weather and ominous door hammering, the climax is delivered in such a manner that it lingered in my thoughts for days afterwards.
In your opinion, what is the all-time scariest horror novel or short story?
For me, it has to be Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. Of all the books I’ve read, scenes from that novel in particular have stuck with me the most. Danny Glick hovering outside the window. The delivery guys and that huge, cumbersome box. Trapped inside the cellar with Mr. Barlow. Undead neighbours, tucked away in their houses, sleeping until nightfall. It’s classic, unapologetic vampire horror, wrapped around some terrific characterization, and it’s glorious.
What’s the scariest scene and/or book you yourself have written?
This is a difficult one, simply because I’m the one who’s standing behind the curtain, waiting to jump out and yell “Boo!” Just sticking with that particular point of view, about a year ago, I was two-thirds of the way through my latest novel, Blood Revival, wrestling with the actions and motivations of a particular antagonist. As a rule, I don’t let my characters descend into an irredeemable position and become one hundred percent evil. Life is usually more complicated than that. But on this occasion I let this one fall way down, into a place that seems utterly beyond redemption. That I’d blithely let him fall so far and become so despicable was disquieting, to say the least. It’s hellish dark down there. I felt terrible at the time. Still do.
For more information about Janet and her work, visit janetjoyceholden.com