Accomplishment: Jack Ketchum’s first novel, Off Season, prompted the Village Voice to publicly scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography. He personally disagrees but is perfectly happy to let you decide for yourself.
Have I told you her voice drips like honey all the way down my spine? "Look a little longer, cupcake. You'll know them when you see them."
"Jack Ketchum," her voice wavered.
"The scariest guy in America, Jack Ketchum?"
"Only he don't scare me." Her bottom lip quivered and I went hot and cold. And hot again.
"You've tied him up tight?"
Immediately she brightened. "Oh, I've done that, Clay. Real tight."
You’ve collaborated on several works including “The Woman,” “Red,” and your most recent, “I'm Not Sam.” Which method do you prefer, writing on your own or with another brain to wring?
Writing solo for the most part. RED was actually solo. It was only later a movie script. Writing alone you have total control and only yourself to blame if it stinks. But when you're really on the same page with another writer, as I am with Lucky McKee, it can be a lot of fun to collaborate. You get to bash around ideas like a couple of kids with a new bag of toys.
Which are scarier, people or their nightmarish counterparts, vampires, werewolves, and the like?
For me, it's always real people. The monsters can still scare me if they're done extremely well. But for me it's the Bad Guys, all the way.
With the kind of flack that comes along with writing things that might make some people uncomfortable (and I use the term loosely) do you ever find yourself censoring what you really want to put on the page, or do you just say “Fuck it?”
Fuck it. I write 'em as I sees 'em. I've gotten a lot of flack over THE GIRL NEXT DOOR over the years. Death threats, even. But I've also received mail from readers who were abused as kids thanking me for getting that story out there. I'll happily take the flack if I can get that kind of response as well.
Which fictional character would you sleep with?
A character of mine? In one way or another I've slept with all of them! In other fiction? Helen of Troy. I figure, aim high.
Stephen King has said that the road to Hell is paved with adverbs. What's another deadly sin that you feel merits a ticket to Writing Hell?
A tin ear for dialogue. Writers, you've got to listen.
Let’s say you’re having a few people over for dinner. You have your usual gaggle of friends and cohorts, but you’ve also been allowed to invite four authors, living or dead. Who’s coming to the party?
Henry Miller, Stephen Sondheim, Raymond Chandler, and Robert Bloch. Damn! I'd love to see Bob again! And I'd be ballsy enough to ask Sondheim to play a few tunes on the piano.
Author Christopher Moore began writing horror, then slowly realized that it wasn’t his thing and switched to a successful career in absurdist fiction. Has horror always been your choice, or are there some other genre skeletons in your closet?
When I was younger I wanted to be Henry Miller. I wrote a horrible book that itched to be THE AIR-CONDITIONED NIGHTMARE or some damn thing. After innumerable rewrites all copies wound up in my mother's fireplace. And then I had a Harold Pinter phase as a playwrite. Some of those actually got produced here and there. Then later, when I was writing for the men's mags, I stole shamelessly from Charles Bukowski. All that stuff is in BROKEN ON THE WHEEL OF SEX.
"Sheri, have you been taking this in?"
She looked up, spectacles dangling loosely between two fragrant fingers. She never wore them. Said they reminded her of the convent school she'd long since renounced.
"Sure have, Clay." She prodded a pile of books on the floor. "You want me to tell you?"
Ketchum has written twelve novels, arguably thirteen, five of which have been filmed – The Girl Next Door, Red, The Lost, Offspring and The Woman, written with Lucky McKee. His stories are collected in The Exit at Toledo Blade Boulevard, Peaceable Kingdom, Closing Time and Other Stories, and Sleep Disorder, with Edward Lee. His horror-western novella The Crossings was cited by Stephen King in his speech at the 2003 National Book Awards. He was elected Grand Master for the 2011 World Horror Convention. His latest, I’m Not Sam, is on sale now.
Me and Jack stared entranced as her goddamned beautiful lips reeled off a list of facts. I didn't want her to stop, but Jack did. He had a speaking engagement and after that...the night.