Meghan: Hey, David! Welcome back. It’s always a pleasure to have you here on Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. What is your favorite part of Halloween?
David: Until recent years Halloween wasn’t really regarded by most people here in the UK as a holiday as such. It’s only been in the last few decades, for instance, that trick or treating has followed in the footsteps of the United States, influenced by films such as ET. Even now I don’t think we make as much fuss of it as in the US. I must admit I don’t do much to celebrate it myself, other than watch a few favourite horror movies.
Meghan: Do you get scared easily?
David: Not at all. Which possibly helps when it comes to writing horror stories.
Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?
David: On first viewing, probably the original Night of the Living Dead which I viewed for the first time at a British Fantasy Convention sometime in the late 70’s. I had never before watched a more relentlessly nihilistic movie in which everyone is doomed to face a violent death. It’s bleakness was possibly even more disturbing than the image of the marauding zombies.
Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?
David: Martyrs. I found the whole film highly disturbing, especially the addiction the main character gradually developed for being tortured. It’s not a film I would ever willingly watch again. Once was more than enough.
Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?
David: I can’t say I have. Commercials have sometimes put me off watching certain movies, but not because they looked too scary.
Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?
David: Well, definitely not a slasher movie! It would have to be one where there was a reasonable chance of surviving till the end. Not that the survival rate in most scary movies is particularly high. They wouldn’t be scary if there was. Ghostbusters would seem to be the obvious choice.
Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?
David: Any with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, probably the Horror of Dracula.
Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?
David: That’s a difficult one as there are so many great ones, but probably Dracula as portrayed by Christopher Lee. At least there are several films to follow him through.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?
David: I’m afraid I don’t have one other than try and watch a few appropriate movies. As I mentioned above, Halloween has never been much of a celebration here in the UK, possibly because it comes only a few days before Bonfire Night on the 5th of November which has always been a big festivity here, with fireworks and a huge roaring fire made up of piles of wood on top of which we burn Guy Fawkes, added to which we have treacle toffee and jacket potatoes cooked in the embers of the fire.
Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?
David: That would have to be the theme from The Rocky Horror Show. That gets in so many horror and science fiction references, it’s amazing.
Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?
David: The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley with its satanists and the Devil himself, plus the Angel of Death. It’s a great adventure story too.
Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?
David: Hearing footsteps running along the landing outside my bedroom when I knew there was no one there. This has only happened the once in thirty years, but this is a very old house (over two centuries old). I must admit, though, I was more intrigued than frightened. Indeed, I wasn’t frightened at all, even when the footsteps stopped at my bedroom door.
Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?
David: The Yeti ever since I watched that old Hammer movie The Abominable Snowman.
Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?
David: A View from a Hill by M.R. James, which is my all-time favourite Jamesian story. The image of the man being carried away through the streets by invisible spirits of the dead he’d used in his alchemical experiments is uniquely vivid.
Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?
David: An axe. I’ve always thought the ease with which everyone in The Walking Dead manage to pierce zombie skulls with their knives and daggers particularly unrealistic, as if their skull bones had turned to cardboard. You need something with a bit more weight to reach their brains.
Meghan: Let’s have some fun… Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?
David: A vampire – at least that usually still has a mind of its own, whereas a werewolf is just a ravening beast.
Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?
David: Neither is appealing, of course, but an alien invasion is probably the one I would choose, as for zombies to exist in reality would be a bit too much to absorb. Reanimated dead bodies just do not make sense.
Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?
David: Lovely choice! I think both would result in almost immediate vomiting! I suppose the zombie juice. At least you could drink that down quickly with your eyes shut. Yuck!
Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?
David: As I do not believe in all the razzamatazz about the Amityville house that would easily be my choice. Of course, if you mean the one as portrayed in the movies then maybe the Poltergeist house.
Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?
David: The melon any day, though there are some connoisseurs who would go for some rare but special cheeses which are actually infested with maggots. Those are definitely not for me.
Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?
David: Am I partial to “eye of newt” and all the other icky stuff that goes in it? Possibly. I’m definitely not partial to cotton candy in its usual form so I think I would try my luck with the cauldron. I must admit these are some of the worst alternative foodstuffs I have ever come across!
David A Riley writes horror, fantasy and SF stories. His first story was in the 11th Pan Book of Horror in 1970. He has had stories published by Doubleday, DAW, Corgi, Sphere, Roc, Playboy Paperbacks, Robinsons, etc, and in magazines such as Aboriginal Science Fiction, Dark Discoveries, Fear, Whispers, Savage Realms Monthly and Fantasy Tales. His first collection of stories was published by Hazardous Press in 2012, His Old Man Demons. A Lovecraftian novel, The Return, was published by Blood Bound Books in 2013. A 2nd collection of stories, The Lurkers in the Abyss & Other Tales of Terror, was launched at the World Fantasy Convention in 2013 by Shadow Publishing. Hazardous Press published his 3rd collection, Their Cramped Dark World & Other Tales, in 2016. Both Hazardous Press collections have been reprinted by Parallel Universe Publications, plus two new collections After Nightfall & Other Weird Tales (illustrated by Jim Pitts) and A Grim God’s Revenge. A fantasy novel, Goblin Mire, and a horror novel, Moloch’s Children, were published in 2015. He and his wife Linden recently relaunched Parallel Universe Publications, which originally published Beyond magazine in 1995, and have now published around 50 books, including two art books.
Along with the award-winning artist Jim Pitts he edits a twice-yearly anthology of swords and sorcery stories: Swords & Sorceries: Tales of Heroic Fantasy. The fifth volume will be published as a paperback and ebook in November. Recent publications containing his stories are: Savage Realms Monthly #12 “The Carpetmaker of Arana”; Summer of Sci-Fi & Fantasy “The Storyteller of Koss”; Sword & Sorcery Magazine #118 “The God in the Keep”; Mythic #17 “Baal the Necromancer.” I also have a novelette due in the next issue of Lovecraftiana “The Psychic Investigator.”
Fourteen dark tales of fantasy and horror ranging from 1971 to 2020.
Dead Ronnie and I was first published in Sanitarium issue 44, 2016
Corpse-Maker was first published in Weird Window issue 2, 1971
The Urn was first published in Whispers issue 1, 1972
Gwargens was first published in Beyond issue 3, 1995
Retribution was first published in Peeping Tom issue 3, 1991
The Bequest was first published in Dark Horizons, 2008
They Pissed on My Sofa was first published in Malicious Deviance, 2011
Old Grudge Ender was first published in The Screaming Book of Horror, 2012
A Girl, a Toad and a Cask was first published in The Unspoken, 2013
Scrap was first published in Dark Visions 1, 2013
Lem was first published in The Eleventh Black Book of Horror, 2015
A Grim God’s Revenge was first published in Mythic issue 4, 2017
Grudge End Cloggers was first published in Scare Me, 2020
Hanuman was first published in Phantasmagoria issue 16, 2020