Stephen King Talks To Richard Chizmar
1. When did you start reading fantasy and horror?
My father used to take me to the library every week when I was a young boy. I devoured all the usual kid books – Dr. Seuss, Encyclopedia Brown, The Hardy Boys – and I started bringing home scary stories pretty much right from the beginning. I remember checking out Edgar Allan Poe and classics such as Dracula and Frankenstein. I surely didn’t understand everything I was reading at the time, but I couldn’t get enough of it. I also loved those oversized Alfred Hitchcock anthologies of creepy stories.
Then, when I was old enough to ride my bike down to Plaza Drugs in the old Edgewood Shopping Center, I started buying horror comics along with my packs of baseball cards. I was never discouraged to do this by my parents. I was never told it was a waste of money or not the proper reading material. For that, and so much more, I owe my parents immense gratitude. They always allowed me to make my own path.
Finally, when I was a sophomore in high school, my English teacher (Richard Gallagher) brought in a stack of blurry photocopies of a long story called “The Monkey” by this guy named Stephen King. We read the story aloud in class – and it changed my life.
At first, I was just thrilled to be reading a story in class that featured curse words and “fart.” I was fifteen-years-old and easily amused. But, then as the story progressed, something else happened: I was transported to another place and another time. The real world around me disappeared. It felt like magic. It felt like home.
When we finished reading “The Monkey,” I knew. I knew I had to be involved with fantasy and horror and storytelling in some capacity. I was just fifteen-years-old, but I knew it was my future.
2. What was the movie that scared you the worst?
Is this a trick question? You already know (and take great pleasure in reminding me) that I’m an easy target and my answer is: all of em scare me!
Okay, if I had to pick just one, I would cheat and pick two:
The Exorcist – I grew up attending the Catholic Church every Sunday. I went to Sunday school. I read the bible. I knew all about Heaven and Hell. God and the Devil. So, the story of young Regan and Father Karras hit very close to home for me. Shocking and terrifying, and still not a film I enjoy re-watching.
Halloween – I grew up in a small suburb very much like Haddonfield. The houses looked the same. The tree-lined streets. The local school. And, like most small towns in America, we had our own legends and scary stories, our own local creepy guys roaming around town. It wasn’t much of a stretch to think that Michael Myers could turn up at my front door one dark night. Not much of a stretch at all. Unlike The Exorcist, I really enjoy repeat viewings of Halloween – and it still frightens me today.
3. What haven’t you done with CD that you’d like to do?
I’m still intrigued by the idea of a mass-market line of CD paperbacks. I know the publishing industry is currently headed in the other direction – with more and more mass-market imprints withering up and dying – but the idea (and the challenge) is still there for me.
I’m also fascinated with the idea of spearheading a Cemetery Dance YouTube channel – a place where horror fans can tune in for current news and reviews and interviews, as well as original short films and documentaries and other cool video content.
Finally, I’m very excited about the prospect of a Cemetery Dance convention. A place where authors and artists and directors and readers and fans and vendors can all get together for a long weekend of fun and entertainment. We’ve been publishing for almost 30 years now and have one of the largest and most loyal followings in the genre. It seems only natural to try to get everyone together from time to time to hang out.