Meghan: Hi, Mark! Welcome back and thank you for stopping by today. What is your favorite part of Halloween?
Mark: Seeing how imaginative people are with costumes. I’m not talking about the shop bought ones. It’s those that’ve been homemade always catch my eye. You know, those that have been stitched together with love and attention.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?
Mark: It will always be carving pumpkins. It’s fun getting messy!
Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?
Mark: For me, it’s a good excuse to watch crappy horror movies. Sure, no matter the time of year we can do that, but Halloween comes along and all the streaming channels show many I’ve never seen before. So that’s always great.
Meghan: What are you superstitious about?
Mark: Haha! Superstitions are an absolute waste of brainpower. I am in no way superstitious. Even as a kid, while my friend avoided stepping on cracks or walking under ladders, or even shriek when spotting a black cat, I’d happily run under the ladder and stroke the cat while standing on all the cracks.
Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?
Mark: Pinhead from Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart was always a favourite of mine, especially once the Hellraiser movies reinforced the mythos. Such a great premise too, and don’t get me started on Lemarchand’s puzzle box and the wonderful lament configuration.
Having said that, there is a close second and he’s from the movie, Sinister. The soundtrack composer, Christopher Young, did a fine job in hammering home how sinister the antagonist was. Bughuul is so damned menacing.
Those two villains, a hell priest and a pagan deity, would make an awesome duo. I’d pay to see, or read, that.
Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?
Mark: Well, you have me here. I have no idea. The horror that I write leans towards the supernatural rather than humankind’s real-life horrors.
Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?
Mark: Nothing scares me. Only heights, but that has nothing to do with Halloween. How about cats, though? Can I talk about cats?
I live in Hastings, East Sussex, England, that’s famous for its roots in history: the 1066 Battle of Hastings is the big one. Research for my novella, Hell Cat of the Holt, led me to learn that in the 19th century, two mummified cats were discovered in the chimney of the Stag Inn while under restoration.
These cats were apparently the familiars of a local 17th century witch. Friendlier than most witches of that time, Hannah Clarke was seen to help prevent the Spanish Armada reaching Hastings, often using her powers for the town’s protection. For whatever reasons, she moved on yet her familiars remained. Until the Great Plague hit.
Cats, rather than rats, were commonly assumed to be plague carriers and having been owned by a witch, this pair of animals were the first to succumb to accusations. For fear of any bad omen to befall the people by killing the cats, a decision was made to wall them in at the pub which led to their mummification.
This all was supposed to have happened. I swear the owners of the Stag Inn have always played on that story, and it’s just good marketing so they can sell more beer.
Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?
Mark: Again, because my horror doesn’t fall under the human hand category, I don’t believe I can name any serial killer and their kill numbers. Real life horror doesn’t fascinate me. I’m in it for the demons, devils, and spirits… The stuff that Halloween is truly made off!
Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?
Mark: I remember watching Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist at an early age and was absolutely mesmerised. The children, the parents, the haunting itself. Everything from that movie held me in awe.
As for a book? Just into my teens, I nabbed a novel from my dad’s horror shelf. It was undoubtedly the book that kicked my love for horror into overdrive: James Herbert’s fantastic The Magic Cottage.
Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?
Mark: I once read a book by Mark Morris. I think it was Toady, though I may be wrong. There was a scene of child abuse. That kind of shit unsettles me. It disgusts me. This is the horror I detest, in the knowledge that it actually happens in this world. Humans and their actions are the real horror, and it’s because of that I side-step it to delve into the darkness beyond our four walls of reality. Give me ghouls and ghosts any day.
Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?
Mark: I’m still waiting…
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume? (This could be from when you were a child or after you became an adult. Or maybe something you never dressed as but wish you had.)
Mark: I once made a Hellboy costume. I trawled charity shops for the perfect trench coat, and made the massive hand from foam out of our old sofa. I fashioned stubby horns and glued them onto a bald cap, and laboriously attached sections of a long black wig to it. All this took many, many hours on my days off work on approach to the big day. I even grew the appropriate facial hair and dyed it. Lots of spray paint and face paint later, I did it. I received a lot of attention that night.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?
Mark: Oh, it will always be Danny Elfman’s “This is Halloween” from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?
Mark: Wow. That’s a question. I haven’t touched candy in years… Decades in fact! I used to love Drumsticks though, and absolutely hated anything liquorish.
Meghan: This has been great, Mark. As always. Before you go, what is your one go-to Halloween movie?
Mark: I will always rank Halloween 3: Season of the Witch as my favourite. I mean, seriously, that haunting theme tune and those masks! Love it.
Mark Cassell lives on the south-east coast of the United Kingdom with his wife and plenty of animals. His jobs have included baker, lab technician, driving instructor, actor, and was once a spotlight operator for an Elvis impersonator. As the author of the best-selling Shadow Fabric mythos, he not only writes dark fantasy horror but also explores steampunk and sci-fi.
He has seen over fifty stories published in anthologies and zines, and remains humbled in the knowledge that his work shares pages with many of his literary heroes. The 2021 release of the short story collection SIX! from Red Cape Publishing shines a light on just how weird Mark can get. More can be found at his website.
From Mark Cassell, author of the Shadow Fabric mythos, comes SIX! Featuring a variety of dark tales, from the sinister to the outright terrifying, this unique collection is a must for horror readers everywhere. Includes the stories Skin, All in the Eyes, In Loving Memory, The Space Between Spaces, On Set With North, and Don’t Swear in Mum’s House.
Monster Double Feature: River of Nine Tails & Reanimation Channel —
From the author of the Shadow Fabric mythos comes Monster Double Feature, a 78-page chapbook featuring two stories – a duo of abominations.
A British traveller desperate to escape his past finds himself at the heart of a Vietnamese legend, and learns why the Mekong Delta is known as ‘River of Nine Tails’ (originally published in In Darkness, Delight: Creatures of the Night anthology by Corpus Press, 2019).
And a regular parcel collection from a neighbour becomes a descent into terror through the online game, ‘Reanimation Channel’, (originally published in The Black Room Manuscripts, Vol. 4 anthology by The Sinister Horror Company, 2018).