When I originally cast out the net for horror writers to participate in 31 Days of Halloween, I wasn’t sure what kind of response I was going to get. After all, it’s the busy season for those of us who prefer the darker side of life. Same goes for last weekend, when I put out another call for the few spots that had opened up over the course of the month. In both instances, I ended up completely floored, not only by the sheer amount of interest (and support from the genre community), but also by the diversity of voices and regions that they hail from. I never wanted Library of the Damned to be North America-centric or anything other than horror-centric, really, because horror is a global genre and I’m interested in all its myriad incarnations and expressions.
Today, it is a great pleasure to welcome British author Michael Marshall Smith to the Library. Smith, who also publishes as “Michael Marshall” (without the Smith), is the author of a number of novels including The Straw Men, The Lonely Dead and We Are Here, as well as several short story collections. Over the years, he’s taken home British Fantasy Awards five times, and has also won the Philip K. Dick award for his first novel Only Forward.
As for what scares him, well, that’s for him to reveal…
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31 Days of Halloween… with MICHAEL MARSHALL SMITH
Describe a time when a scene in a horror novel really unnerved you or caused you to turn on all the lights.
The most unnerving portion of a horror novel — and one that caused me not to turn on the lights, but to completely bail from the book, never (yet) to return — was the part in Pet Sematary where you get an inkling of the wholly explicable and yet very, very dumb response Louis Creed is about to make in the aftermath of the death of his son Gage. I don’t know why it hit me quite so hard. I didn’t have a son at the time — wasn’t even married — though I guess I had very recently lost a much-beloved cat, so perhaps that was it. King manages to hit both a primal need and a terrible fear at the same time… and I decided “Nah, I’m not following you down that road. Bye.”
In your opinion, what is the all-time scariest horror novel or short story?
I’m very, very rarely scared by horror fiction. I tend to find the insights interesting, rather than disturbing.
What’s the scariest scene and/or book you yourself have written?
As far as I can tell from responses over the years, the scariest thing I’ve written is the short story “More Tomorrow.” Someone tweeted me recently saying it still freaked them out twenty years later. Which I suppose is a good thing…
Your top three fears?
Letting people down
My son not having a good enough life
I’m not very fond of maggots
For more about Michael, visit his website at http://www.michaelmarshallsmith.com/