Interview: Jack Ketchum Talks Horror Roots and New Book ‘The Secret Life of Souls’
Interview conducted by John Wisniewski
Our resident interview maestro, John Wisniewski, is back at it again, and this time he’s chatting it up with legendary genre contributor and longtime fan favorite, Jack Ketchum. If you’re hanging around a site like HNR, you don’t just know the name Jack Ketchum, you’ve likely read a great deal of his fiction, and you’re more than likely a dedicated fan. You’ve got good reason to be, as Jack isn’t just an amazing author, he’s a really cool guy who does an awful lot for our beloved genre!
Check out John’s chat with Jack below. It’s a fine read!
Horror Novel Reviews: What was your first published horror story, Jack?
Jack Ketchum: That would be TO SUIT THE CRIME, back in ’92, published in BIZARRE SEX AND OTHER CRIMES OF PASSION. Though the novels OFF SEASON in ’81, HIDE AND SEEK in ’84, COVER in ’87, and both THE GIRL NEXT DOOR and SHE WAKES in ’89 came first. Some would also say that some of my men’s mag stories during the late 70’s qualify.
HNR: What do you like about the horror genre?
JK: What’s not to like? I’ve been into horror since I was a kid. But as to writing it, I guess I’d say that proceeding from some very dark places tends to grab a reader’s attention enough so that you can get at some of the things in life that truly bother you or are important to you. So long as you tell a good story first and foremost.
HNR: Any favorite horror authors?
JK: Too many to name. There have been and are still some wonderful writers working in that vein.
HNR: Why did you choose to write under a pen name, for a while?
JK: Still do. Jack’s my main pseudonym, but when I was writing for the men’s mags I used a number of them, including my real name, often because I’d have more than one piece in any given issue. Most of my fiction during that time went out under the name Jerzy Livingston. See BROKEN ON THE WHEEL OF SEX for that stuff.
HNR: Which of your books is your favorite?
JK: You want me to pick a favorite kid? No way…
HNR: What scares readers, Jack?
JK: Depends on the reader. For some it’s the walking dead. For others it’s the guy who picks up hitchhikers on the freeway. I’d say the overriding principle is peril. Peril of the body, of the heart, of the soul.
HNR: Any favorite horror films?
JK: Again, too many to mention. Remember I grew up on this stuff. So everything from Karloff in THE MUMMY to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD to ICHI THE KILLER and beyond.
HNR: What will your next novel be about, can you tell us?
JK: It’s called THE SECRET LIFE OF SOULS, due out in November from Pegasus Press. I wrote it with Lucky McKee, my partner on THE WOMAN and I’M NOT SAM. It’s about a very disfunctional family, fame, accidents, and a little girl and her dog.
HNR: What lies in the future for you?
JK: Death, taxes, and with a little luck, plenty more stories.
HNR: What kind of feedback do you get from fans of your work?
JK: Mostly quite positive. I think I’ve amassed a very good, very smart and sensitive body of readers over the years. But everything from somebody wanting to separate me from my private parts to thanking me heartily for exposing some of the kinds of harm that’s personally come to them. That last is more than gratifying, as you can well imagine.
HNR: Thanks for the interview, Jack!
JK: My pleasure. Read on!
Always nice to hear from Jack Ketchum. An excellent look again from him. I especially liked his response to the question about which is his favorite story. I agree with his closing statement, ” Read on.”
Good answer to what scares readers: peril. That book cover for Secret Life of Souls is eye-catching. Well done.
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Great interview from one of my all time favorite authors! Thanks HNR.