I had the pleasure of meeting Russell at a convention we were both attending, and he quickly became one of my favorite people. He was almost shy, which surprised me, and as we hung around together in a group where we had mutual friends, as the games and conversations continued, I realized just how much he loved horror as a whole and how knowledgeable he was on the subject. After reading one of his stories, I could not believe my luck in meeting him that night, before he became the big author I expect him to become. Such a talented writer, someone who truly inspires me, though I realize that, until this moment, I’ve probably never shared that with him.
Meghan: Hey Russell. Welcome BACK to the annual Halloween Extravaganza. Always awesome to have you here and I’m so glad you could once again join in the shenanigans. What is your favorite part of Halloween?
Russell: I have two. Firstly, seeing my daughter in the moments after donning her costume. It’s the dividing line where her eyes widen and she crosses fully over into the Halloween spirit, which nothing can bring her down from the rest of the evening.
The second would be how the world around us changes as the season kicks in–the yard decorations and costume aisles, the horror movie-thons and haunted houses.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?
Russell: Out in the country here there’s a place called Fashion Farm, an old homestead turned restaurant/antique shop. It becomes a Fall attraction in October: straw maze, hayrides, cider and donuts, and Pumpkin Fantasyland, which is like a wax museum but in an old animal barn with faces drawn on pumpkins. My parents took me every year, and now I take my own family.
Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?
Russell: I grew up at the very edge of town with no other kids in the neighborhood, so if I wasn’t reading or watching movies, I’d be wandering through the fair-sized patch of woods beside our house, or the local cemetery behind that. Of course, that developed a good sense of the scary and otherworldly in me, which Halloween fed right into, as did horror in general.
Meghan: What are you superstitious about?
Russell: If you trip over something in the first few minutes after getting up, don’t leave the house for that entire day.
Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?
Russell: The villain of the 1999 movie Ravenous—who I’ll leave unnamed for those who haven’t seen it—is fascinating to me. He’s a pure predator that kills to live, but he’s also refined and cunning, with big ambitions. Come to think of it, he’s like Count Dracula in many ways.
Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?
Russell: What really freaks me out is when bodies are found but the circumstances are unknown, like the Yuba County Five or the Lead Masks Case. You can spend a lot of time on YouTube going down those rabbit holes.
Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?
Russell: Snakes in toilets. Just typing that gives me the willies.
Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?
Russell: Joseph Kallinger is up there. He’s less-known but his story is a lot like the movie Frailty, only a hundred times weirder and more brutal.
Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?
Russell: From what I’m told, I saw David Cronenberg’s The Fly when I was three. Judging by some of what I write, it stayed in my brain whether I knew it or not.
The first horror book I read was The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. I remember very clearly reading the scene where Hyde knocks down and stomps over the young girl. It hit a nerve with me as a bullied kid, but I had to keep reading, which I now realize was because I wanted to see Hyde get punished.
Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?
Russell: The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. It’s known for its most violent scenes, but even the moments which seem innocent have a subtle violence to them, like when David is at the pond with Meg and feels driven to prod her about the scars on her legs, even though she doesn’t want to talk about it. You’d think it would get easier to read the second or third time, but Ketchum just keeps giving you new layers to be disturbed by.
Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?
Russell: This is a tough one, but I’ll go with Martyrs. I’ve got a strong constitution for violence and depravity in film, but that’s probably the most emotionally draining horror movie I’ve ever seen, in addition to the violence.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?
Russell: I was an obsessive Superman fan as a kid, and I wore that costume to bed and on weekends until it came apart at the seams.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?
Russell: “Pet Sematary” by the Ramones pretty well captures the early 90’s pre-Scream horror vibe I get nostalgic for.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?
Russell: Love some Snickers, hate that rock-hard bubblegum you get, whatever it’s called.
Meghan: We have a fair few things in common I see from reading this interview (like snakes in toilets – eek!! haha). Before you go, what books and movies are on your top list for this time of year?
- Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge
- The October Country and Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
- The Halloween Bride by Bryan Smith
- Night In the Lonesome October by Richard Laymon
- Halloween Carnival (anthology series) edited by Brian James Freeman
- Halloween series
- Scream series
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series
- Living Dead series
- The Exorcist
- The VVitch
- Nosferatu (1922)
Russell Coy lives with his family in their cat Penelope’s house in Northern Indiana. He is also the author of the novelette The One Who Lies Next to You. His weird horror novella, Dimentia, is available now from Clash Books.
After giving up on his dream of being a published writer, Chris is plagued by a series of nightmarish visions of grotesque creatures. As the visions manifest with greater frequency they start targeting his young daughter. They are finding their way into his world and only he can fight them. Chris must uncover the truth about his connection to this strange, sadistic realm, and plunge headfirst into the unknown if he wants to save his daughter and himself.
The One Who Lies Next to You —
When Angie Berg suspects her husband is having an affair, it has an impact on every aspect of her life. Confiding in her boss, Angie learns Carol’s husband had also been unfaithful, and it was the reason for their divorce. Carol wants to help Angie get to the truth, and she has the means to do so — a handmade Amish quilt. Thinking her boss has gone off the deep end, Angie accepts the gift in the spirit in which it had been intended.
Later that night, still plagued with doubts, Angie figures there’s no harm in throwing the quilt on the bed. What does she have to lose? What she discovers is worse than she imagined, and now Angie finds herself in mortal peril as she tries to figure out what to do next.