AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Paul Flewitt

Meghan: Hey Paul. Welcome to this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. Thanks so much for coming back again this year. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Paul: I love the atmosphere around Halloween. The misty nights, the weather getting cooler and the leaves falling … it’s the stuff horror movies and books are made from. Here in the UK, it’s the beginning of a pretty fun couple of weeks: we have Halloween, then we have Bonfire Night (celebrating Guy Fawkes) the week after. It really is great time of year.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Paul: I really enjoy dressing up, and friends of ours tend to have costume parties for Halloween. I’m not really big on Halloweening, but the dressing up and having fun with character is just so much fun. It’s a time when I can really let my inner-cosplayer emerge.

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Paul: Why would it not be? It’s much more fun than Christmas or Easter, and can be done without spending much money. It’s a great way of having fun with family and friends, and you really get to know your neighbours around Halloween. If they don’t embrace the dark season, then are they really worth your time?

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Paul: Nothing really. For a horror writer, I don’t really go in for the mystical. It’s really boring, and really rational, but I just never got people who were scared of black cats, refuse to walk under ladders or saw bad luck omens in every quirk or accident. That really comes from my Dad, who was always pretty rational too.

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Paul: Pinhead, from the Hellraiser universe. He is the most articulate, eloquent character in the whole of horror. I like it when he doesn’t say much in a movie, but when he does speak it has real substance and gravitas. He’s almost regal, almost sympathetic to his victims. He explains exactly why he’s there, and exactly what he’s going to do to you. It’s your fault, you invited this, and this is the consequence. What gets any better than that?

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Paul: Oh, there are many. I suppose a lot of horror writers are fascinated by murderers who got away with their crimes; how they did it, where they went, who they were … it’s really an intriguing area to research. I mean, Jack the Ripper’s murders are probably most people’s favourite, simply because he’s never been identified, but there are so many possibilities. There’s endless scope for speculation, and it all happened at a really emotive time in British history too. Victorian London will always be a time we remember in many different ways, as portrayed by Dickens, Conan Doyle and Shelley. We can easily identify with his victims too, when you look at their stories and discover who they were. Those times and places are evoked and encapsulated in many of the early works of horror, so Jack definitely fits right in there.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Paul: None of them scare me per se, but some of them do fascinate me. I love the foundations of these kinds of legends, finding out where they came from and how they evolved over time. Essentially, they are the modern version of the tales told in mediaeval times around the campfire, which eventually were collected in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. They really are a great call back to former times, and I’m all there for it.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Paul: As above, it would be Jack the Ripper for the reasons I set out there. I mean, the serial killers we know about, we know about. We know their psychology, their motivations and what drove them. We know nothing about Jack the Ripper, but we can track him down and seek to find some closure on those deaths.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

Paul: I’m not even sure about that. I guess it would be one of the old Hammer Horrors, or maybe one of the classic horrors. When I was a kid, black and white equaled boring, but there is definitely something primal about the images of Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff as Dracula and Frankenstein. Those characters really stuck in my mind.

I loved the Hammers, because they seemed to be played with tongue firmly in cheek. They were making low budget movies, the scripts were sometimes terrible, but they knew it. Some of them were so terrible that they went straight back around to being genius again, and they gave us Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Bernard Cribbins. What’s not to love?

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Paul: I don’t think any horror novel has truly unsettled me. Some have engaged me deeply, and I’ve enjoyed the imagery evoked by them, but none have really triggered any extreme reaction. Why? Because you can put them down. That’s the beauty of horror.

Now, if you asked me about a book that unsettled me, I would cite A Child Called It, which is a true story of the author’s abuse at the hands of his mother. Now, that story is truly affecting, and you need to read it cover to cover, in the hope that there is closure at the end. In the fiction world, I found We Need To Talk About Kevin to be similar in the emotions that book evoked.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Paul: Not a horror movie exactly, but Pink Floyd’s The Wall movie screwed me up. The imagery and symbolism in the film was really affecting; from the visions of riots, to schools making clones of us all, to kids being put through a giant mincer … it was just one thing after another in that thing. It never let up, from beginning to end. Yeah, that thing still gets me after all this time.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Paul: I told you about friends who have costume parties at Halloween, and one year we really hit it out of the park. The theme was an evil twist on fairy tales, and so my wife decided to do Alice in Wonderland. Oh, it was great. My wife was Alice, my son was the Cheshire Cat, my daughter was the Red Queen (I think??) and I was the Bad, Mad Hatter. My wife really went to town making that costume, and I even had miniature bottles of liquor that were labelled up with “Bigger,” “Smaller,” “Wiser,” etc. That was an awesome one, and it must be reprised sometime.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Paul: Pfft, tough one. I mean, I really like horror movie soundtracks around Halloween, and I generally have them playing in the background when kids come to call around on the night. It’s great, slowly answering the door in the darkness, with the Hellraiser soundtrack playing behind me.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

Paul: I’m not a big fan of sweets, so I leave that to the kids. It also saves disappointment, so it’s a win-win for me.


Boo-graphy:
Paul Flewitt was born and raised in Sheffield, Yorkshire where he still lives with his family. He is the father of two children and keeper of several beta reading demons

Paul is a writer of horror and dark fantasy, and a former steel worker. His debut novel, Poor Jeffrey, was launched in April 2016. His latest short story, Defeating the Black Worm, is part of the Short Sharp Shocks series from Demain Publishing.

Paul spends his time caring for his children and devotes much of his free time to writing his next works. He writes only for the thrill of scaring his readers in new and inventive ways.

Short Sharp Shocks 62:
Defeating the Black Worm

Matthew had fallen so far, so quickly. The anxiety and panic had overcome him suddenly, and he couldn’t find a way back. In desperation, he sought solace in doctors and psychiatrists, but no-one could (or would!) help him. He loses everything to the hunger and appetites of the Black Worm.

But then, at his lowest point, and with nothing left, Matthew finds aid in the most unexpected of places…

But can the Black Worm be defeated?

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: S.C. Mendes

Meghan: Hey!! Welcome back. Thanks for agreeing to help us see how long we can celebrate Halloween this year. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

S.C.: Dressing up! I love costumes, and the time spent finding the perfect one is just as fun as sharing it with others at a party. This is also the reason why Halloween is my favorite holiday. As a child, it was my favorite for the spooky movies and decorations and of course what kid doesn’t live getting free candy, but as I got older the joy transferred almost entirely to the aspect of costumes. They don’t even have to be scary anymore. I just like seeing the creativity of myself and others in the art of the costume.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

S.C.: Haunted Houses and carving pumpkins. From my teenage years until late in my 20s, I was a huge scaredy cat at haunted houses. That was part of the fun though. I enjoyed those jump scares and cowering behind friends as we walked through the dark corridors; it helped me get into the spirit of the season. I never understood the guys (or girls) who went in and talked back at the characters in the house or were proud that nothing scared them. I didn’t understand the point of going if you weren’t going to let yourself be vulnerable to the fear. It’s like watching a horror movie and expecting it to be unscary.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween memory?

S.C.: There is a gray area during high school, when you still want candy, but society starts saying you’re too old to be trick or treating. It’s also just before you start getting into trouble at “drinking” parties. My solution to this limbo stage was to turn my home into a haunted house for younger trick or treaters.

My brother and I had a great set up for this. He would sit on a chair at the front door in a costume that made him look like a stuffed scarecrow. Newspaper coming out sleeves and shirt buttons. Kids would be hesitant to approach the door for candy, rightly assuming the scarecrow would jump at them. But my brother never moved a muscle. Parents would assure the kids the figure was just a dummy or older kids would even poke him to prove it. Still my brother waited patiently. After the doorbell was rung and my mom gave out candy, only then would he jump from the chair and scare them. Kids and families would retreat and get to the driveway to laugh and catch their breathe at the good scare…. Then, I would come from the backyard and get them a second time with a fake chainsaw that made noise. We did that two or three years in a row. Good memories!

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

S.C.: In a way, I’m superstitious about everything. Not in a fearful way though. I believe that everything in life happens for a reason and the universe/unseen world is always communicating with us through signs and events. So if something strange happens to me, I tend to analyze what the deeper meaning may be.

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

S.C.: Very hard to pick. But I would probably say Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. At the very least, I quote him more than any other horror villain.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

S.C.: Cliché, but I’ll go with Jack the Ripper because the various theories on his identity fascinate me.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

S.C.: Bloody Mary. Mirrors have always been mysterious objects to me. I remember a high school birthday, maybe sixteen; I had friends over and they pulled that nonsense of summoning her in my bathroom mirror. Well, it’s all well and good until everyone goes home and I’m alone wondering if someone of something is going to appear later in the night and kill me.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

S.C.: I am no longer fascinated by serial killers in the way I was as a youth. As a teen though, I really enjoyed Silence of the Lambs—I dressed as Hannibal Lecter for junior year—and so cannibals became my obsession in serial killers.

Being the rebellious teen I was, not only did I want to be unique in my fashion and music, I wanted my serial killers to be obscure as well. Since everyone knew Dahmer as a cannibal, I researched people like Albert Fish, Peter Stumpp, and the Vampire of Dusseldorf.

If you enjoy serial killers and heavy metal, I cannot recommend this band enough: Macabre.

Macabre has been around for thirty something years, I think, and there songs contain so much info on what these monsters did. Hard to pick a favorite album but Murder Metal is probably my favorite.

As an adult, I feel very different about these monsters. I’m glad I learned about the serial killers at the time, but I no longer want to buy merchandise or dress up like them even for Halloween.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie?

S.C.: Not sure what the first was, but I will tell you that I distinctly remember the endings of Friday the 13th and Prince of Darkness. Around when I was 12 or 13, I think. Just when I thought the movie was over—Bam! Jason pulling her into the lake and the melted face of the girl in bed had me off the couch and running from my room before the credits.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

S.C.: We Need to Talk About Kevin. I was always nervous about having kids. Being responsible for the creation of life and ensuring that this human grows up to be…. Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? Are you responsible for what your child becomes? We Need to Talk About Kevin put the final nail in the coffin when it came to me wanting to have children. Terrifying though not a novel all will consider horror.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

S.C.: Again, I may have a response that isn’t quote horror, although it was violent. As a kid, my Grandma was watching Wisdom with Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore. I was maybe six years old at the time and walked in during the ending scene when the Bonnie & Clyde duo is riddled with bullets. I had never seen people killed in movie before except for Disney and it’s not the same when Bambi’s mom dies or Ursula turns someone into a seaweed person. Watching their real human bodies tear open and bleed scarred me. Maybe it subconsciously spurred my fascination with blood, death, and horror. Who knows. I always remembered Emilio and Demi’s face though and when I was much older I found out what the movie was called. At the time, I had no idea what the movie was. To this day though, after learning what it was, I still have never watched it from start to finish. Just that ending as a six-year-old…

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

S.C.: Too hard to pick a favorite, but some of my standouts over the years were The Dude from The Big Lebowski, Heath Ledger’s Joker, and Johnny Depp from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Honorable mention to Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

S.C.: Anything by John Carpenter. His music set the stage for so many classic horror films, including Halloween that he is synonymous with the holiday for me. I love his Lost Themes album. Perfect background music if you’re handing out Halloween candy. Or writing scary stories 😉

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

S.C.: Reese Peanut Butter Cups and Butterfinger when I was a kid. Disappointed by Candy Corn.


Boo-graphy:
Learn to appreciate the darkest moments of your life. It is those moments that make our time in the light even more beautiful. S.C. Mendes is the author of numerous short stories and a fan of pen names. The anonymity helps maintain his day job as an indoctrinator of children for the state. THE CITY is the beginning of the Max Elliot saga.