Meghan: Hey, Tommy. Welcome back. Thank you for joining us here today. What is your favorite part of Halloween?
Tommy: People are apt to exercise their imaginations during the Halloween season, whether inclined toward the zany, macabre, or otherwise, expressing it by costume, decoration, or a visit to a local haunted house or attraction. For a while, horror is more widely recognized than in other times of the year, and marathons of horror films ensue, enjoyable if I have the time to watch. I also enjoy the distinctive autumn weather, when it occurs.
Meghan: Do you get scared easily?
Tommy: Not really.
Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?
Tommy: Not an easy answer. I’ve gone through massive lists of supposed scariest movies ever and couldn’t find a single one that actually frightened me, though I love horror, but there are quite a few I’ve found to be an intense viewing experience, and that’s what I enjoy. I’ve mentioned John Carpenter’s Halloween as a favorite many times, though, and as far as horror films go, consider it top-tier in the way of atmosphere and tension.
Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?
Tommy: The gory murders are fun to watch, but it’s the tragic ends that tend to impact me more. Think of the wife from The Vanishing. It’s an end that occurs off-screen. We are given an answer, ultimately, but it leaves the details to the viewer’s imagination.
Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?
Tommy: Never for that reason. If I’ve avoided a horror movie because of advertisements or previews, it’s likely because I didn’t find the idea or scenes interesting.
Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?
Tommy: One where I had a fighting chance. A zombie movie, maybe, with slow zombies. Night of the Living Dead?
Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?
Tommy: Though it’s been a while since I’ve watched it, I remember the action-driven horror movie Feast having some solid protagonists. I think of Ash from the Evil Dead films as well, though I wouldn’t want to lose an arm, even if he is well-equipped despite that. If I’m going to battle a horrific menace, I want weapons.
Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?
Tommy: I have a few favorites. On past occasions, I’ve mentioned human beings to be some of my favorite monsters. I find Frankenstein’s monster to be an interesting study which I appreciate more within the pages of Mary Shelley’s original tale than in any of the resulting films.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?
Tommy: Decorating, perhaps, though I don’t do as much of that these days. Savoring the weather with a tasty beverage is always nice, though it isn’t necessarily a Halloween tradition but an autumnal one—pumpkin ales come to mind.
Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?
Tommy: Some top choices include King Diamond’s Halloween, Helloween’s epic Halloween from the first Keeper of the Seven Keys album, and of course, Type O Negative’s Black No. 1, but I could compile entire albums of Halloween-influenced music I enjoy.
Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?
Tommy: Some of the most unsettling fiction I’ve enjoyed has arrived in the form of short stories. I think of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood and The Hellbound Heart, but these embody short story collections and a novella.
Others I’ve read more recently include Things Left Behind by Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni, Picking the Bones by Brian Hodge, and Bridgett Nelson’s A Bouquet of Viscera, all phenomenal reads, but again, collections, so I digress.
Speaking strictly of linear novels, I have always found Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House to be an immersive, atmospheric, and interesting trip down an unsettling path.
Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?
Tommy: Discovering I’m not actually alone. There were occasions in which I’ve managed to get away for a moment of solitude only to discover someone standing in the dark, hidden in part, staring in silence. While I may not frighten easily, these instances can be startling and yes, creepy.
Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?
Tommy: Some years ago, as archaeologists explored the Great Pyramid of Giza, a robotics team developed a robot designed to explore one of the pyramids shafts, drill a hole through a door at its end, and record what lay beyond. The results were as mysterious as the initial discovery, as the door led into another shaft with yet another door that could not be bypassed. It’s but one tiny aspect of the whole mystery of the pyramids, but one that springs to immediate memory. I find the history, design, and speculations surrounding the ancient pyramids interesting.
Early history involving the cradle of early civilization, the lore and history of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the vanished civilization of the Norte Chico has always interested me. The latter of these inspired my 2018 horror novel, The Mourner’s Cradle.
Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?
Tommy: The one about the malicious ghost who enters a writer’s home and deletes unfinished manuscripts from the computer, as well as backup files. Absolutely terrifying.
Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?
Tommy: 9mm semi-automatic.
Meghan: Okay Tommy, let’s have some fun… Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?
Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?
Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?
Tommy: A choice between dead bodily tissue or dead bodily tissue juice? I guess I would go with the juice. At least it’s quicker that way, because I wouldn’t have to chew anything.
Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?
Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?
Tommy: Bitter melon with chilies. I’ve never been partial to maggot-infested cheeses.
Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?
Tommy: Spider web cotton candy. Spider’s webs are woven with protein for the most part, whereas a witch’s cauldron might contain any number of unknown ingredients, depending on the witch who mixed it.
Tommy B Smith is a writer of horror and dark fiction, award-winning author of The Mourner’s Cradle, Poisonous, and the forthcoming Black Carmenia series. His presence currently infests Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he resides with his wife and cats.
Black Carmenia 1:
Insomnia. Headaches. Fear.
It drove Marjorie down, cost her a career, and almost destroyed her marriage. When she and her husband Terry escaped to the quiet green countryside west of the Mississippi River, their new home, it seemed too good to last.
The snake-ridden adjoining property, bordered by a row of maple trees, hosts a deadly secret. There the blood of fields and innocents stain the crumbling ruins of an old farmhouse, a decaying testament to a web of treachery and murder stretching back to distant times.
The horror in the ruins watches in wait. Marjorie fears the end, and the end is coming.