Up until now, we’ve been mixing a little introduction and a little biography for the intros to our 31 Days of Halloween interviews, but today we’re going to change it up a bit and just run our interviewee Hal Bodner’s bio as supplied to us. Why? Because it’s a great bio, and it seems like a sin to paraphrase it.
Okay, here we go…
Hal Bodner is a Bram Stoker Award nominated author, best known for his best selling gay vampire novel, Bite Club. The first person he saw ever saw was the doctor who delivered him, C. Everett Koop, the future US Surgeon General. Thus, from birth Hal was ironically destined to become a heavy smoker — a habit he greatly misses.
He moved to West Hollywood in the 1980s and has rarely left the city limits since. He cannot even find his way around Beverly Hills — the next town over. In a burst of over optimism, he bought a six bedroom mansion in Highland Park, a supposedly up-and-coming area of East Los Angeles. After three years of watching street gangs doing drug deals in his back yard, he fled back to WeHo.
His various professions have included stints as an entertainment lawyer, a scheduler for a 976 sex telephone line, a theater reviewer and the personal assistant to a television star. For several years, he owned a pet boutique where movie stars bought gold-plated water dishes and designer wardrobes for their Chihuahuas and Pomeranians.
In the erotic paranormal romance genre — which he refers to as “supernatural smut” — he is best known for having written In Flesh and Stone and For Love of the Dead. He has recently agreed to write a series of mystery novellas featuring a gay detective and his Watsonian sidekick, who is the madam of a bordello.
Hal married a man roughly half his age who had no idea that Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland were related. In consequence, he has discovered that the use of hair dye is rarely an adequate substitute for Viagra.
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31 Days of Halloween… with Hal Bodner
Describe a time when a scene in a horror novel really unnerved you or caused you to turn on all the lights.
I was about 14 or 15 when I read The Shining for the first time and, by coincidence, I read it one night in the middle of a snowstorm. While my response to the novel itself was lukewarm, the scene where Danny is hiding in the cement tube with the ghost child that made me very uneasy and haunted me for quite awhile. A few years later, when Peter Straub’s Ghost Story came out, I found Dr. Rabbitfoot to be very unnerving. For some reason, andf I have no idea why, I found even the character’s name to be disturbing..
Several years later, I read Tim Powers’ Anubis Gate. There’s something very eerie about the involuntary nature of the skin-changing. I had nightmares from that book.
In your opinion, what is the all-time scariest horror novel or short story?
In terms of being truly scary, I think Mary SanGiovanni’s The Hollower made for one of the creepiest reading experiences I’ve ever had. She’s able to imbue her characters’ feelings of helplessness and despair with a weird claustrophobia that disturbs me on some fundamental level. There’s an implacable sense of impending doom that is just terrifying.
Jeffrey Wilson manages to create a similar feeling in The Donors. There’s the sense that his characters are being menaced by something completely alien that they have little or no power to resist.
And, of course, there is something deeply, deeply unsettling that pervades the atmosphere of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House from the very first line.
What’s the scariest scene and/or book you yourself have written?
Though I’m probably best known for my horror novels, most of my work in the genre takes a comedic or satiric slant. So, I’m not sure it’s accurate to call much of it scary, per se. I tend to create, as someone once told me, “cuddly” monsters.
That being said, I’ve also written some very disturbing scenes. Ironically, one of the most viscerally unsettling scenes I think I’ve ever written is in the opening of what is ostensibly one of my romance novels, For Love For the Dead. It’s a pretty gruesome necrophilia scene which makes most readers uncomfortable. I suspect that the only reason I got away with it was because, rather than being a prurient scene, it’s very obvious that the perpetrator of the act is doing it because he has no choice and, in fact, he’s as disgusted by it as the reader is.
Your top three fears?
Having first been a widower at 41, I think my worst fear is losing my husband to some illness or tragedy. Having something bad happen to the dog comes in a close second. I’m not so much concerned with things happening to me as I’m pagan and I don’t believe in an afterlife. To my mind, death will be almost exactly like slipping into anesthesia – my consciousness will be incapable of experiencing anything. So, if I had to pick a third fear, I think it would be a fear of the process of my dying being painful or horrifying.