Meghan: Hey Adam!! Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books and this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. What is your favorite part of Halloween?
Adam: It’s gotta be trick or treating as a kid, right? Except I missed out on that. My fault entirely. The one (and only) time my mum let me go trick or treating around the block of flats where we then lived, I objected when one of our neighbors refused to cough up the candy, saying they “didn’t believe in Halloween.” (This was in Australia.) Well, I wrote the lousy bastards the proverbial “sternly worded letter,” replete with an offensive caricature of my neighbors, and a monster defecating on their heads – my idea of a Halloween ‘trick,’ I guess. They of course forwarded this poison pen letter to my mum, and from that day on I was never allowed to go trick or treating. So I kind of missed out on my Halloween glory years… Wish I still had that picture. Wonder if my mum kept it in the scrapbook?
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?
Adam: We don’t celebrate Halloween in the UK like you guys, at least not in my neck of the woods, I’m sure it differs from place to place. I remember driving through a small village down south a few years ago around Halloween-time, and seeing that every house had a “corn dolly” – a kind of scarecrow figure – posted outside. None of the other villages had ‘em, just this one little place, and I always wondered exactly what that little tradition/ritual was about… kind of spooky thinking back on it.
Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?
Adam: Oh, I’m far too grouchy to have anything like a “favorite” holiday. I tolerate these things for the sake of the kids. I do enjoy seeing Halloween through my daughter’s eyes, seeing her pluck up the courage to knock on the door of an especially spooky house. Kids really will do about anything for confectionery.
Meghan: What are you superstitious about?
Adam: My superstitions tend to be writing rituals – writing at the same time of the day (crack of dawn) in the same place (for fear of upsetting my writer’s feng shui). I don’t really consider myself superstitious, but I’d probably give serious thought before boarding a #13 plane, so I guess I am susceptible to the ‘classics.’
Meghan: What/Who is your favorite horror monster or villain?
Adam: Always been partial to ole Leatherface and the Sawyer Clan.
Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?
Adam: I’m currently researching an unsolved British murder for what I think may be my next horror novel, the Charles Walton witchcraft murder. It occurred in a sleepy village of a couple hundred people in 1945 (around the time the Allies were firebombing Dresden). An elderly farm laborer named Charles Walton, believed by his neighbors to be involved in witchcraft/folk medicine, was discovered dead in a field, impaled to the ground with a pitchfork, and with crucifixes slashed in his face and chest with a sickle (an ancient way of dispatching “witches”). When the local law couldn’t solve the crime, Scotland Yard sent their best man, the Sherlock Holmes of his day, Robert Fabian, to investigate… and that’s when things got seriously witchy… The case is like a real-like “Sleepy Hollow” or “Wicker Man.” I don’t want to say too much more about it, because like I say I’m currently researching for my next project, but I’d encourage people to check out the Wiki entry for Charles Walton – it’s a fascinating case.
Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?
Adam: The insect laying eggs in a sleeping person’s ear.
Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?
Adam: I’m leery of using the word “favorite” here, and the guy I’m going to choose didn’t kill anyone as far as I know… but check out the serial sex offender named Ed Paisnel aka The Beast of Jersey. Not Jersey, USA, but the British Channel Isle. For thirteen years (60s-70s) the Beast of Jersey terrorized the tiny island, breaking into homes while people slept, abducting children from their beds, taking them to locations with historical occult significance, and performing satanic rituals as he raped them. Paisnel was a practitioner of black magic, and claimed to be descended from Gilles de Rais; he was said to have used “magic” to elude the police for so many years. What’s most disturbing about him – well, there are many disturbing things about this freak – is the nightmarish costume he would wear when he performed his nighttime raids. Words don’t do it justice; I would urge people to Google “The Beast of Jersey,” and imagine being woken in the dead of night by that horror.
Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie?
Adam: Not sure for certain how old I was, but let’s say around seven or eight, an irresponsible adult (my mum) rented me a double-bill of An American Werewolf in London and Carpenter’s The Thing. I watched “Werewolf” first. My mum watched five minutes with me to make sure it was suitable for a child (it isn’t), before she went off to bed. And of course in the sixth minute, the werewolf appeared, savaging the kids on the Moors – terrifying! And if anything The Thing was even more traumatizing. Making it from the TV room to my bedroom that night, alone, in the shadowy dark, and with all those images rattling round the ole noodle – that was the longest walk (or eyes-closed scurry) I can remember… And I guess an experience like that either makes or breaks you as a horror fan for life. After surviving that double-bill, I realized I quite enjoyed that scared-shitless experience.
Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?
Adam: I was most susceptible to book scares as a “latchkey” teen, reading Stephen King late at night in an empty house – Pet Sematary, The Shining, Salem’s Lot. Before that, when I was maybe eight or nine, I bought from the school book fair the paperback of Carrie with the illustration of a blood-spattered Sissy Spacek on the cover. (I knew the name Stephen King from my mum’s bookshelf.) In my nightmares, Carrie in her telekinetic rage became the girl who lived across the street from me. Again, that’s the kind of experience that either makes or breaks you as a horror fan… When I met Stephen King (part of the prize for winning a King-judged writing contest) he was delighted to hear that his books gave me nightmares.
Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?
Adam: Jaws. After seeing that movie at an impressionable age, not only was I terrified of swimming in the ocean, but the pool too. Wouldn’t be surprised if most people answer Jaws to this question. That goddamn movie!
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?
Adam: As I’ve already said, I blew my Halloween glory years thanks to that poison pen letter I sent. So now I have to live vicariously through my daughter’s costumes. I think we’ll get a little more adventurous this year than the witch/princess she went as last Halloween – I’d like to see her as Snake Plissken.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?
Adam: Purple People Eater. And did I imagine it, or did someone make a movie from that song? I swear I rented that back in the VHS days.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?
Adam: I don’t have a sweet tooth, and I’m not even much of a snack guy. (Come to think of it, jeez, I really suck at Halloween.)
Meghan: Thanks again for stopping by, Adam. Before you go, what are your top 3 go-to Halloween movies?
Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Not the best of the series, I’ll grant you – that’s clearly JC’s original, and the sequel ain’t too shabby either – but this is easily my favorite, and the one that bears repeated viewings. Not only is the story batshit insane, but the anti-heroic character Tom Fuckin’ Atkins plays, deadbeat dad and functional alcoholic, Dr. Daniel Challis, has to be the most offbeat protagonist in all of horror cinema.
Ghostwatch. The pseudo-documentary/reality-TV hook for this show seems old hat now, but at the time it aired, must’ve been early/mid-90s, this “live” investigation of a haunted house, anchored by a host of respectable British broadcasters, was revelatory… and scared the living piss out of me.
Whistle and I’ll Come to You. This adaptation of the M.R. James classic was first billed in the 60s as a ghost story for Christmas. (Apparently, Christmas was the traditional season for ghost stories in the UK.) This one remains chillingly effective, and in actor Michael Hordern’s depiction of repressed scholar Professor Parkin, features one of the ATG oddball performances.
ADAM HOWE writes the twisted fiction your mother warned you about. He lives in Greater London with his partner, their daughter, and a hellhound named Gino. His short fiction has been widely published in places like Nightmare Magazine, Thuglit, and Year’s Best Hardcore Horror. Writing as Garrett Addams, his short story Jumper was chosen by Stephen King as the winner of the international On Writing contest, and published in the digital/PB editions of King’s Memoir of the Craft. He is the author of such wholesome titles as Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, Tijuana Donkey Showdown, and Scapegoat (with James Newman). His most recent novel is the “buddy cop” action/comedy One Tough Bastard, in which a washed-up 80s action star partners with a hyper-intelligent chimpanzee to smash an organized crime syndicate headed by a Schwarzenegger-style supervillain. Coming soon: grit-lit 30s pulp The Polack, co-written with Joseph Hirsch, and “starring” Charles Bronson. And a new Reggie Levine yarn entitled Of Moose and Men. You can stalk Adam Howe on FB, Goodreads, and Twitter.
One Tough Bastard —
Shane Moxie: a washed-up 80s action star who refuses to believe his best days are behind him… Duke: a hyper-intelligent chimpanzee and arguably the greatest animal actor of his generation…
Reunited for an anniversary movie screening, when Moxie and Duke are targeted by assassins, the feuding co-stars reluctantly join forces to smash an organized crime syndicate headed by an iconic German action star dealing death from his movie-themed fast food franchise.
One’s a big dumb animal. The other’s a chimpanzee. Shit just got real.