RSS Feed. Ginger Nuts of Horror. Ginger Nuts of Horror is honoured to bring you an interview with Jack Ketchum, one of the true giants of the genre, a man who has been an inspiration and an influence on countless writers. The landscape of horror would not be in the same shape without the contributions of this great writer. Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for a former actor, singer, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk -- a former flower child and baby boomer who figures that in Elvis, dinosaurs and horror probably saved his life.
And that news was delightful. Jack ketchum interviews off season still Laura lived, her glazed eyes still blinked and stared, her chest rose and fell in an irregular broken tremor. He said one other thing that I Young teens giving head completely embraced:. Just some guy named Stephen King. You are commenting using your Twitter account. Also a lot of garbage. As of this year every one of my major titles will be in print in some form here in the U. I try to not preach, but to advance my ideas, my causes in a fictional setting. Soraya— In the novel Off Season, a novel with much stress, not knowing what will happen on the next page gives the feeling that there is not a lot of affection for the characters. Manybooks Author of the Day.
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Feb 18, Glenn Rolfe rated it it was amazing Shelves: re-reads. He does talk about the great meaning of the novel and how the editors ruined it but I see only a little message about the Jack ketchum interviews off season cruelty of the universe that wasn't such a big deal, and all the outrage mentioned above has little to do with it. At the end, I wouldn't say I liked it but it was powerful and engaging. I think when I wrote Off Season I was finally ready to tackle savagery head-on, but it was no surprise to me when I got there. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. I forgot about the ending until I got close Have I yet conveyed how much revolting stuff happens? No one does it as well as Ketchum. We'll always have his voice and his heart here on these pages. I'm willing to read another Ketchum book but it'll be a while. Jack ketchum interviews off season tiny variation here, a nuance there.
A note from interviewer Mike Noble :.
- Soraya speaks Spanish, and I only speak English, so our friendship has leaned heavily on technology and Google Translate.
- Welcome to the new online home of Jack Ketchum.
Soraya speaks Spanish, and I only speak English, so our friendship has leaned heavily on technology and Google Translate. For a guy with such terrifying work, he seems like a really nice guy. The themes interested me: violence against a young woman perpetrated by a woman, adults giving children permission for horrible cruelty, and the heroism of one sister giving her life, if necessary, to protect her defenseless sister.
Soraya— You have received many accolades from Stephen King, what are these compliments for you? Do you think that these accolades helped or harmed you? Jack Ketchum— When Stephen King talks, people listen! Why do you think this happens? Pornography is supposed to turn you on. Sexually excite you. Jack Ketchum— I liked Jack Ketchum.
And he was, so they caught and hung him. I loved his last words. Let her rip! Soraya— The monster is always human in your novels. What attracted you to depart from the traditional monsters of terror? Jack Ketchum— Simple answer. Always have, always will.
Soraya— In the novel Off Season, a novel with much stress, not knowing what will happen on the next page gives the feeling that there is not a lot of affection for the characters.
There is never a second chance. Is it as well as you see life? A fatal accident, an inoperable disease, or crossing paths with the wrong person at the wrong time. So I write about that. Soraya— You write clear, uncensored, with all the precise details to read a torture or a dismemberment.
Do you think this is why you have become popular? Do you think that society likes lurid things? Jack Ketchum— Peter Straub once paid me the high compliment of saying that he thought people came to my work for the wrong reasons, and stayed for the right ones.
Soraya— Your novels have been taken to the cinema and in some you worked as an actor. You have involved much or you have given freedom to writers and directors. In acting, have you tried the character to appear as you have imagined it? We had to rewrite some scenes as we went along. And to a great degree the films have all captured the intent and themes of the source material, the books themselves, so I feel quite good about them.
Soraya— And finally when will we have another of your books in Spain? And hopefully that will change soon. Then I knew that the greatest terror came from humans. I am a book reviewer in Spain, I do it free to help its authors to know their works. Luego supe que el mayor terror venia de los humanos. Pingback: From Soraya — Jack Ketchum. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.
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View all 3 comments. With no way of calling for help, the city slickers must do things of which they never thought themselves capable in order to survive. And then, the idea that you could become sadistic enough to survive, to battle these things on their own terms. Peaceable Kingdom 3. And it turns out that there's not much to swoon over, if anything. It's like abstract art
Jack ketchum interviews off season. Topics Mentioning This Author
A tiny variation here, a nuance there. This is genre, and the appreciation of genre lies in your relish of the variations and the nuances of the same thing endlessly cycling round. Etc etc 8. Okay, they're descended from people who'd been trapped on an island, but anthropologically speaking this novel is all over the place, it has no theoretical underpinnings, Ketchum is clearly making it up as he goes along. He clearly knows nothing about clan structure and language patterns.
Etc etc 9. How very ironic! Of course you could review this penny dreadful horror novel in a lightly humorous ten-different-ways-to-review-the-unreviewable way and then in the last section you could satirise your own desire to write wacky reviews, which would be the perfect way to end, don't you think? Chief cannibal : Not if I've got anything to do with it, mate! Speaking bizarrely in perfect English even though in every other way he epitomises human degeneracy and extreme lack of manners.
Sound effect : Crunch! P Bryant: Aaarh! How can I write reviews without any fingers?? Chief cannibal speaking with his mouth full, as usual : You could dictate. View all 10 comments. Oct 17, AM. Jul 02, Blake Crouch rated it it was amazing. A former literary agent and actor, Ketchum published his first novel, Off Season, to the dismay of the mainstream literary establishment and the delight of what would grow into a cult following.
Over the last quarter of a century, he has published numerous novels, novellas, and works of short fiction. However, only in the last five years has he gained notoriety, largely due to the praises of Stephen King. Have any of the judges read it? Enviably accomplished for a debut novel, Off Season draws its inspiration from the legend of Sawney Bean, the Scottish leader of a 15th or 16th Century clan which engaged in mass murder and cannibalism until their capture, torture, and execution.
The first pages are essentially violence-free and dedicated to the introduction of the six main characters, along with foreshadowing of the horrible events to come. The sense of increasing dread is palpable, and by the time the family of cannibals gets around to attacking the vacationers at the cabin, the suspense has been ratcheted to an unbearable degree. But Ketchum truly is unflinching in a way that few other writers have dared to be, and this is what sets him and his debut novel apart.
It was still warm, still beating. He severed the veins and arteries with the knife and lifted the muscle into the light, and still it beat, steaming in the cool air. For the man this moment was the nexus of all mystery and wonder, the closest thing he knew to worship. He stared until finally the heart was still. Sheriff Peters is order, or the attempt to restore order in the face of pure depravity, and like the reader, if he escapes harm, it is only a physical escape.
His and our psyches will never recover. Though Off Season was published at a time when such independent slasher films as Halloween and Friday the 13th were challenging the shock value of Psycho, there is little to compare. Those films are comical, cheap, even childish in their treatment of violence, in a way that is completely diametric to the very adult study of violence that is the foundation of Off Season.
Not even you! The violence that occurs in this book touches us so profoundly because it is perfectly reminiscent of the awful and sudden turns that life can take. It is ultimately the unpredictable, uncompromising way Ketchum rains his terrors down upon his characters and the reader that earns Off Season a place in the canon of classic thriller fiction. Off Season may upset you. It may even make you sick. View 1 comment. Oh my god what a disturbing book.
There were moments when I dreaded to continue reading it because I just knew that things would go horribly fucked up with a lot of gore.
And it did. Not that the book was bad, it was good, just a bit too disgusting for my taste I must admit. I prefer paranormal horror that makes you wonder if you should check under the bed and the closet before you sleep no Oh my god what a disturbing book.
I prefer paranormal horror that makes you wonder if you should check under the bed and the closet before you sleep not the kind that makes you feel sick.
View all 15 comments. Mar 31, TK rated it really liked it. Enough said. Although, I cannot agree with the previous establishment of rating this novel as "violent pornography". View all 18 comments. Well, I hadn't. Until now. Off Season is my first venture into the novels of Jack Ketchum. Let's say it's a book for the reader with a taste for the different.
After a little research into the author, I was intrigued. His mentor was Robert Bloch Bloch praised and supported Ketchum's writing. Their friendship began in the s and continued until Bloch's death in Pretty strong credentials, Mr. So I, being the completeist reader, decided to start at the beginning with this nasty little tale of six Manhattanites staying in an isolated cabin on the Dead River in Maine.
The cabin is just a short distance from the coast. Across from an island, formerly the location of a lighthouse with a long history of light keepers and their families meeting less than pleasant demises. The plot is quite simple. First there were six New Yorkers. Then there were five. Then there were As for that old Scottish Incantation that appears at the beginning of this review, forget it.
It won't do you any good. Or of human creation. The monsters that prey on the civilized enjoying a cabin in the off season is a savage family of few adults and a brood of children. They have a taste for meat. They prefer human flesh. They are masters of inflicting terror. Ketchum depicts one hellish night of horror. His writing is lean and mean. His sentences are short, declarative. Ketchum is a master disciple of those he admires. Originally published by Ballentine Books in , this novel became a hit for readers of horror, with sales in excess of , And that was the expurgated edition.
This review is of the novel as Ketchum originally wrote it, published by Overland Connections in Steven King asked, "Who's the scariest guy in America? I'll warn you. This one is not for the squeamish. Ketchum makes the hair on the back of your neck prickle. It will make you wonder what's really behind that angelic face of a lovely woman who asks "Have you read any Jack Ketchum? May 13, Edward Lorn rated it liked it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.
To view it, click here. One does not read Jack Ketchum to be entertained. So why would someone pick up a Ketchum book?
I haven't a fucking clue. Like the late, great Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum is a diabolical motherfucker. He knows how to make skin crawl and stomachs turn. Each one of his books is the literary equivalent of a snuff film.
They're real. They're in your face. They're sick and completely immoral. And I can't stop reading them. I don't know what that says about me and other Ketchum fans, but it's the trut One does not read Jack Ketchum to be entertained.
I don't know what that says about me and other Ketchum fans, but it's the truth. A woman is roasted alive, a little boy is beheaded, a man's penis is bitten off as if the lady is simply snapping into a Slim Jim, and the hero is gunned down by the people tasked with saving the day. This book doesn't piss in your corn flakes, it shits in your hair and rubs it in like conditioner.
If you're having a bad day Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I'm going to attempt marathoning these three novels. I want to see how I feel by the end of the third book, whether or not the carnage maintains its impact or becomes cartoon-ish and over-the-top when consumed all at once. Like I said above, I don't read his books to be entertained. He is a horror author's horror author, meaning, if you pay the bills with scary stories, you could learn a great deal from him.
If you're not an author, I suppose you'd read his books to cement in your mind that your life could be much, much worse. In summation, I feel a little bad that I enjoy Ketchum's novels as much as I do, but they're also terrific learning tools. If you want to learn how to make a reader uncomfortable, or enjoy feeling uncomfortable, you can't go wrong with Jack Ketchum.
Apr 04, Tressa rated it it was amazing Shelves: horror. For me, this is the horror book to end all horror books. It is the apex of terror tales. No book has come close to topping Off Season, and I doubt that any ever will. In a rural area off the coast of Maine live a tribe of cannibals.
Over the decades travellers and townspeople have disappeared here, but these have been chalked up to the nature of an increasingly mobile, exploding population. People disappear every minute all over the world, don't they? The tension begins imm For me, this is the horror book to end all horror books. The tension begins immediately and never lets up.
Six adults—two of them sisters—are vacationing in a cabin. As they eat, sleep, and relax in nature, they are silently being stalked by the cannibal clan, who soon set off an unrelenting assault on the cabin. Before you can say "pass the A1," several have been killed, one has been roasted on a pit, and two of the women have been taken back to the cave. And it's in this cave where we see just how these men, women, and children flourished all these years. You'll be tempted to flip to the last page to see how this book could possibly end.
If you managed to make it all the way through, you might want to catch up with the inbreds in Offspring. This is the book that made Jack Ketchum a legend of the horror genre. It must have been a badge of honor to Ketchum for The Village Voice, of all publications, to criticize this book for its "violent pornography. View all 3 comments.
Jack Ketchum is an author whose works have been in my digital to-read pile for ages. I'm loathe to admit it, but he's one of those writers synonymous with the horror genre whose work, for whatever reason, I just hadn't read yet. I decided to correct that in Last week, Wednesday, Jan.
His passing ignited an urgent need in me to finally discover exactly what I had been missing. I wanted to get to know a bit the man who so many fellow author Jack Ketchum is an author whose works have been in my digital to-read pile for ages.
I wanted to get to know a bit the man who so many fellow authors called either, or in some instances both, a friend and an inspiration. I decided to start with Off Season , Ketchum's first novel.
Holy crap, what a first novel! It's not entirely perfect - the characters are a bit thin, many of them barely rising out of cardboard cutout territory prior to their victimization - but it is compulsively readable and utterly engrossing.
She's invited her sister, friends, and lover to visit and enjoy the quiet. The home she's rented for the month would be idyllic if not for the hungry cannibals whose primal interests her visit has drawn. What follows is an absolutely brutal, nightmarish siege of frenetic violence and misery. Hope is sparse as the blood flows freely from one shocking, nerve destroying, encounter to the next.
I've read previously that Ketchum was inspired by the films Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre , and boy-howdy do those influences shine through. Ketchum, though, is no pale imitator. There's no joy to be found, and any moments of humor are of the blackest pitch. This is not a fun, action-packed creature feature romp. This is horror shone through the prism of reality, and it's one bleak, serious as a heart attack, motherfucker of a book.
It's also damn good. Damn good. I may be shamefully late to the party, but I can guarantee you I'll be sticking around for a while now. View all 4 comments. May 30, Mort rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. For the last 25 years, I have told anybody who would listen that IT by Stephen King is the best horror novel ever written. This book simply blew my mind. After reading the Afterword, it might have been a blessing.
I happen to agree that this uncut version had the ending this story needed to give it that extra impact. The idea behind the story might seem like a simple one these days : Take a tribe of primitive, inbred cannibals. Give them six out-of-towners and one full night without help from the outside world.
See who can survive. Maybe this was a fresh idea for , but there have been many stories with this basic premises over the years. However, the writing is absolutely fantastic. Nobody dies in the first pages of this page story, and it takes an absolute master of the craft to be able to build the tension for so long without ever boring the reader.
And when the shit hits the fan, you will be on the edge of your seat until this story is over. People were so used to horror stories and the tricks they tried to pull, that it was becoming predictable and sometimes even laughable.
So Ketchum simply said: Do you want to be scared again? I mean really, gut-wrenchingly, shit-your-pants scared? I will show you…I will give you something beyond your wildest imagination…I will fuck with your perception of horror…and I will never apologize! Always liked my sins pure and take it as it comes. View 2 comments. Jun 12, Tracy Robinson rated it it was amazing. Review tomorrow! This book is absolutely brutal and gory.
Content warnings for rape, graphic abuse. Just wanted to give a heads up for any reader friends this might be triggering for. Yeah - not happening.
K Review tomorrow! There are no words wasted and the ending is just DARK. The author notes in this edition that when this was being readied for its first publication, the big press he worked with wanted to make massive changes. One was to the END. Oct 04, Wayne Barrett rated it liked it Shelves: , horror , series. The condition and character of the children in the opening scene grabbed my attention and I knew I was in for a macabre ride. And even though they were just children, I couldn't wait to see them getting their tiny little heads blown off.
This whole story was a chase and a battle that started with blood and guts and ended the same way. This was a great addition to my Halloween season read, but there wasn't much depth in the way of a plot. It's like abstract art Mar 22, Maciek rated it it was ok Shelves: horror , read-in The biggest flaw of Off Season is its publishing date - As it was a debut novel, the publishing house had quite a lot of power over the author, and made him cut and edit the book the way they wanted.
Upon publication the book raised extreme controversy, due to its violent and graphic nature. It got so bad that Ballantine, who initially published the novel, decided to stop supporting it and withtdrew it from circulation after the first printings.
In a small publishing house specialising in h The biggest flaw of Off Season is its publishing date - In a small publishing house specialising in horror fiction - Cemetery Dance - picked it up for an reissue; this time including the author's original version, including the text which has been cut from or edited in the first publication.
The result got a glowing blurb from Stephen King who called the author "probably the scariest guy in America". After 19 years, readers can finally read the work as the author intended it.
And it turns out that there's not much to swoon over, if anything. The storyline is absolutely basic - a group of friends go to a small coastline town in Maine for a vacation, where they are targeted by a group of inbred, cannibalistic savages, who live in a small cave and go out hunting at night. Such plot might have been original or groundbreaking in , but since then it has been done to death get it? The violence is extreme and the author pulls absolutely no punches, but that's pretty much all the is to it.
The second biggest flaw of Off Season is that it's an one trick pony; there's no meat to it, if you'll pardon the pun. Not that it's neccesarily bad; it's just that it's not what I would expect from a novel praised so highly. Feb 18, Glenn Rolfe rated it it was amazing Shelves: re-reads. Just finished this one for the third time.
Still amazingly honest, brutal, and engaging. I forgot about the ending until I got close You get lured into this great cast of characters and creepy group of savages.
It was still as impactful this t Just finished this one for the third time. It was still as impactful this time, but that first time, having no clue?
I mean, I picked this version the Leisure Books uncut version at a grocery store! I'd read King and Rice, but they never did splatterpunk. I was shocked. The scenes still manage to make me cringe and think "oh Go, no No one does it as well as Ketchum. He makes it believable. A nightmare come to life. Sadly, I started this again after I heard of his passing. I'm glad I did. I 'm not ready to say goodbye yet.
Thankfully, we have his work. We'll always have his voice and his heart here on these pages. I can see why this book was a bit of a game changer in I'm glad I got to read it in the format intended by the author albeit still not the original manuscript, which no longer exists instead of the cleaned-up version.
Warning: It is graphic and even this seasoned reader of horror novels winced several times! Some "gross" books have zero story line and bore me to tears. This one had a simple plot, but it was still engaging because the characters Had I a copy of this book back in the early '80's, I would've hid under the covers for a month.
Now, I just gag, laugh, and keep reading. Jul 22, Kirstin rated it really liked it. I love that movie and I had a blast with this book.
My first Ketchum novel was better than I expected. Highly enjoyable for fans of over the top gore. My thanksgiving feast will now consist of pepto shots, saltine crackers and fruit flavored tums. Uncle Stevie wasn't kidding. Job well done Mr. May 03, Kasia rated it really liked it.
This was my first Ketchum book and I cannot wait to read the follow up to Off Season, chillingly called Offspring. This tale is pretty simple as it deals with civilized humans and with some barbarians who speak and think but who choose to stalk and watch their prey before they make their surprise attack. When Carla retreats to an isolated cabin in the midst of a quiet Maine town she has in mind some book editing along with a nice relaxing week in the company of her sister Marjorie and her boyfriend Dan.
Along for the ride came Jim, Carla's handsome but not emotional new hunky boyfriend as well as her ex Nick and his new air head of a girlfriend Laura. Carla has a whole day to herself to clean and refresh the whole cabin before her company, as the off season in the small town of Dead River provides nothing but fresh air and beautiful views of forests and nearby cliffs above a chillingly green sea.
She has no idea but her steps have all ready been entangled in a slowly spinning game of cat and mouse. She is being slowly watched by a savage family that lives in the nearby coastal rocky cave and they are not simple dirty humans who feed on scraps and peek through windows, they are something much darker and hungrier than the wildest animals she could have crossed paths with.
What Carla and her company have in store is beyond what many people can handle hearing about, and this is where the book plunges from serene scenery and character development into a black nightmare of infinite proportions that seems to have no way out but through the dark and hungry jaws of the savages.
When the civilizations collide and the city dwellers get a nasty shock of reality, they have very little time to absorb the impact of being attacked and hunted by a rabid pack of humans who have a growing appetite for human flesh as it fills them with power and fuels their barbaric primordial magic.
In the middle of the night while making love to Jim, Carla finds herself drowning in his blood as an attack through the window takes over her serene world and she is pulled out of the house naked, in the middle of the night with children and dirty men and women dressed in skins clawing at her muscles, wanting to absorb her flesh and her vital energy. The battle for life and death begins as the sleepy vacationers are roused to screams and sounds of violent trashing about the house.
A few of them meet a grim and gristly fate at the hands of barbaric and ferocious people that live in a black cave filled with skulls and clothing and a big metal cage that is literally their place for incoming meals. With the characters battling for their lives and few of them brutally eaten, Ketchum hooks and sinks the reader with his infinite morbid descriptions of cannibalism and the undying will to survive that is the only shining light the prey has left.
Jan 12, Bri bribooks rated it liked it. Having read a string of literary novels, I wanted something grisly and fast and raunchy. Jack Ketchum is that guy. And I got what I was looking for.
Having read and been horrified by The Girl Next Door last October, this book had been on my radar for some time. That one hooked me from page one and my heart ached for the characters — I loved and was horrified by them.
But Ketchum sure is good at letting the blood fly. I feel so indifferent about this little novel. Be warned: herein is some heavy stuff. Aug 10, Randolph rated it did not like it Shelves: fiction , horror. I don't know what to say about this.
It was the unexpurgated edition. I suppose for it's time it was shocking, but it seems a little dated now. It is the lost cannibal tribe slasher cabin in the woods formula. I saw all the explicit grue, rape, sex, and pedophilia as just filler. A little less would have still gotten the message of how inhumanely we treat each other, and if you look at it it only drives the plot early on, after the initial attack; then it's thrill filler, ho hum.
It seems that o I don't know what to say about this. It seems that ol' Jack was up in arms about the bowdlerized version but I won't spoil the changes. He does talk about the great meaning of the novel and how the editors ruined it but I see only a little message about the random cruelty of the universe that wasn't such a big deal, and all the outrage mentioned above has little to do with it. It sucks to be attacked, captured, killed, cooked, and eaten by cannibals maniacs especially if they rape you first.
Oh, and I don't need the recipe either. All this said, the novel requires a huge portion of suspension of disbelief to swallow the entire premise of the story to begin with and the first half doesn't do much to develop characters other than Carla, so we don't really care about the ones that are left after Carla takes the dirt nap rather early on. The only real suspense is the assault and siege on the cabin.
I didn't really hate it in the end like I did Richard Laymon 's The cellar. Jan 04, Krissy rated it liked it Shelves: pgs , audiobook. This was very disturbing. It's been a while since I've read something this fucked up.
Jul 07, Mindi added it. For a guy with such terrifying work, he seems like a really nice guy. The themes interested me: violence against a young woman perpetrated by a woman, adults giving children permission for horrible cruelty, and the heroism of one sister giving her life, if necessary, to protect her defenseless sister. Soraya— You have received many accolades from Stephen King, what are these compliments for you? Do you think that these accolades helped or harmed you?
Jack Ketchum— When Stephen King talks, people listen! Why do you think this happens? Pornography is supposed to turn you on. Sexually excite you.
Jack Ketchum— I liked Jack Ketchum. And he was, so they caught and hung him. I loved his last words. Let her rip! Soraya— The monster is always human in your novels. What attracted you to depart from the traditional monsters of terror?
Jack Ketchum— Simple answer. Always have, always will. Soraya— In the novel Off Season, a novel with much stress, not knowing what will happen on the next page gives the feeling that there is not a lot of affection for the characters. There is never a second chance. Is it as well as you see life? A fatal accident, an inoperable disease, or crossing paths with the wrong person at the wrong time.
So I write about that. Soraya— You write clear, uncensored, with all the precise details to read a torture or a dismemberment. Do you think this is why you have become popular?
An Interview with Jack Ketchum | Oyez Review
A note from interviewer Mike Noble :. When I got word from Blu Gilliand that Cemetery Dance was going to release an online preview of my interview with Dallas Mayr known to horror fans the world over as Jack Ketchum , I was excited that I would finally be able to share something with Dallas. We started this interview at Joanne Trattoria in New York city in and ended it via email on November 11, I knew how sick Dallas was and I emailed him often to check and see how he was doing.
I stopped getting replies a couple of weeks before he passed. He had bounced back before. On January 24th, Dallas Mayr died. Although I should have not have been surprised, the news hit me like a ton of bricks. I had already written an introduction for this.
It was primarily about what a legend Dallas was—how he had redefined the horror genre and how he had won the admiration of legions of accomplished and talented writers from Chuck Palahniuk to his long-time friend Stephen King. Probably Jack Ketchum. Lucky answered a few questions about Dallas for me and I was looking forward to Dallas reading the sweet things Lucky said about him. All you had to do was reach out to him with a story and he would read it and give you the best advice you could possibly ask for.
At heart I believe Dallas was a teacher and I think he thought of the aspiring writers and filmmakers who reached out to him as students. I thought of him as a teacher and a mentor for sure. And that was before he revolutionized an entire genre. Whether I was interviewing him or having a drink with him or exchanging emails, I knew that time in his company was precious.
I spent the evening Dallas died in a manner I knew he would approve of: drinking wine and going through my book collection. I leafed through the books he signed for me. He signed it the day we started this interview:. Long-time Jack Ketchum fans will be pleased by it—the cannibal family from Off Season , Offspring and The Woman make up a prominent chunk of the book.
These are largely uncollected newer pieces, which have appeared in various anthologies since the publication of my last collection, Closing Time and Other Stories. What else is happening with your work that your readers will be excited about? Even better, what are you excited about?
I did. I write for good readers, not people with agendas. And the guy who freaked over The Woman at Sundance did us a big favor. The thing went viral and scored us great free publicity. The Crossings would make a great film. Oh, yeah. You know, and I love the way that that visceral horror mixes so well with the western genre—the book really captured the best of both genres.
It started out its life as film. I wrote about half of a film script. They had been held in a camp by these white slavers or white Mexican slavers, whatever they were.
And they busted the ranch that this was on. They were Satan worshippers, and they were selling women into prostitution, etc. My idea was to take it back in the old West. In the real case, the cops were the ones who busted in. I thought, okay, again, if you take the classic western, the hero riding to save the victim and save the girlfriend, what if you take that and pop it back to right after the Mexican War? So I researched the Mexican War. I figured that was a really good time to do it because that was such a bloodthirsty conflict.
I wanted it to be across the Rio Grande, so that seemed the right time to do it. The reporter is the coming-of-age guy. And I thought of Ned Buntline. I was able to get on a little bit of soap box about race relations, just a little, in the course of an action story. I try to do that. I try to not preach, but to advance my ideas, my causes in a fictional setting.
Animal rights, for one thing. Not even animal rights, that sounds like too PETA, who are idiots. But animal care. And environment. I write a lot about the Maine woods. And people have asked me how come? I live in New York. Well, I love the environment, and I love the Maine woods. I always have loved that. A kind of overreaching arc throughout your work is the search and the eventual finding of strength.
Put into extraordinary circumstances, can you find some inner strength? Let me see if I can retrieve this. The film I just saw, it was a Spanish film.
And it is. He has death fantasies, and he walks in his sleep. And he meets this woman, who is an older woman, and they have a brief affair. And she teaches him all about sex and how sex can be life-affirming. And she leaves. He stays. And his father comes to visit him one last time. His father has been appearing as a ghost every now and then. That ghost was right.
I lost some friends, early on, to AIDS. Vietnam, I lost people in Vietnam. Our courage is all about, I think, all about dealing with that, going on and still remaining humane, loving people.
You love them forever. But there is room for another soul to come into your environment, into your sphere. Do you remember the first concise set of words that kind of set you off?
And do you also remember the first time that you put some words together that just made your jaw drop? I know that I do remember, vividly, reading. My father and I took a trip to California on a plane.
In those days, it was a prop. This was a long trip. Look at that. And I just… I could not get out of Dracula. And my father gave up on me. My father always gave up on me. Give up on him. I had a girlfriend in college who dumped me for a guy who she was already going with when I met her. And I wrote about loss, the heartbreak of loss. I sent it to Robert Bloch who was, by then, and for years before, my mentor. He had read all my poems and all my fragments and all kinds of stuff for years since high school.
But I think I broke his heart a little. I think I maybe brought a tear to his eye. So getting that letter was certainly one of them. I nailed that sucker. A short story is like a one-night stand.
Not too carefully. I scrapbook. Right now? I read all over the board, and I tell people who are coming up as writers that they should be doing that. McMurtry is a novelist.