We’re now into the last 13 days of our first annual 31 Days of Halloween feature. We hope you’ve had fun so far, and added a whole bunch of novels and short stories to your winter reading list. (Because what better way to keep warm than to curl up under the covers with a good – deadly scary – book?)
Joining us today is Norman Prentiss, whose book Odd Adventures with your Other Father came up through the Kindle Scout program (which Norman will be back to discuss in a future post). He won a Bram Stoker Award for his first novella, Invisible Fences, and his other releases include The Book of Baby Names, Four Legs in the Morning, The Fleshless Man, The Halloween Children (with Brian James Freeman) and The Narrator (with Michael McBride), with additional story appearances in Dark Screams, Postscripts, Black Static, Four Halloweens, Blood Lite 3, Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, and four editions of the Shivers anthology series.
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31 Days of Halloween… with Norman Prentiss
In your opinion, what is the all-time scariest horror novel or short story?
I’d pick the classic short story “Thurnley Abbey” by Perceval Landon. There’s a supernatural encounter near the end that the narrator thinks is a hoax, and he reacts to it in a violent way. The scariest part occurs when he has to think back and reinterpret what must have really happened.
I’m fascinated by the idea of something becoming even more disturbing as you remember it…
What’s the scariest scene and/or book you yourself have written?
My favorite among my own scare-scenes occurs in the unfinished novel-length expansion of my short story “The Everywhere Man.” The book is about a sinister person who has gained a supernatural ability to occupy multiple places at once–and the media’s continual broadcasting of each violent appearance gives him even more power. To escape him, the protagonist secludes herself in a cabin away from television, radio, and the Internet. A noise awakens her in the darkest part of night:
Michelle propped herself up on one elbow, wide awake, yet blind. “Who’s there?”
An absurd question to pose to a dark, empty room, as if inanimate objects could respond. The sound was an aural illusion–a tree branch scraping against the window and her drowsy mind drawing the sound inside the cabin, closer, closer. She waited for a response to her frightened question, searched the texture of darkness for an uninvited shape. The house was completely silent.
“Who do you think?”
Michelle is an academic researcher, and she brought a voice recorder with her to dictate her ideas into. She reaches out to activate it, to capture evidence of her phantom visitor:
Slowly, with no rustle of her blanket, no quick motion of her arm in the thick darkness, Michelle reached out until her fingertips found the edge of the end table. She hovered over the spot where she’d left the recording device, then lowered her hand onto the activation switch.
Her fingers landed on something warm and rough–another hand, resting atop the recorder. She pulled back with a startled gasp.
That last part, the idea of touching something unexpected and *wrong* in the dark, is the kind of thing that really scares me. I remember once walking back to my seat after using the bathroom at the back of a crowded tour bus. It was night, and the bus was completely dark inside, and the vehicle lurched suddenly. I put my hand out to grab the back of a seat to steady myself. Instead of tough fabric, my hand pressed into the side of a stranger’s soft, warm face.
Get your claws on some of Norman’s work at www.normanprentiss.com.