Grady Hendrix, author of such horror gems as Horrorstör, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, and Paperbacks From Hell was signing his upcoming book, We Sold Our Souls, at the Quirk Books booth at BookCon 2018 last week. Resplendent in a white suit with pink tie, I knew I was in for treat with this awesome writer.
Check out my interview with the author here below.
Geeks of Doom: I’m going to start with a usual question. Who are your influences?
Grady Hendrix: I read sort of everything when I was growing up, and weirdly enough, I didn’t read that much horror. I read a ton of science fiction and a ton of men’s adventure. When I was a kid, if there was a violent book about guys with machine guns, I was so there. And then I read the normal stuff like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and all that, and I sort of read everything. My mom was one of those people who’s like, “You should never be bored,” so whenever we went anywhere you should have a book with you. The stuff I got obsessed with as a kid was terrible. It would be like William Johnstone action novels, or The Executioner books, you know books about World World III breaking out and the Soviets invading America. It wasn’t until I was in college that I was reading books for anything more than… I was an idiot who needed to be entertained. So in terms of influences, it’s kind of a little bit of everything, and a ton of comics, oh my god.
Geeks of Doom: Do you watch as much horror as you read? I assume you read horror now.
Grady Hendrix: Of course. When I went to university, I took a couple of courses on gothic literature, I was like, “Wait a minute, I can read this shit and get course credit? That’s insane!” So I did that and that’s when I really got into horror is university… Clive Barker and [Stephen] King, sort of the usual suspects. I went through a big Anne Rice phase weirdly enough [I did too – not weird]. I see a ton of horror movies. The movie that first really flipped me out as a kid… I think I was like 10, and I saw Dawn of the Dead. And ever since then, when I’m stressed out, I’ll have zombie dreams. That’s how I know I’m stressed out. I’m a huge horror movie guy. In fact, I go down to Philly once a year around Halloween, there’s this group that does 24 hours of horror movies. They don’t tell you the titles, they just screen all the old prints.
Geeks of Doom: I have to tell my husband!
Grady Hendrix: Yeah, it’s called Exhumed and they do this 24-hour fest in Philly, and I will go to that till the day I die, because it’s amazing.
Geeks of Doom: Oh, he will totally go to that. He goes to all the horror cons. I’m like, “Nah. I like to read horror. I’m not that big on watching it.”
Grady Hendrix: That makes sense. It’s two totally different ways of experiencing it.
Geeks of Doom: I can step out and go back. So Horrorstör. It was going to be a put pilot on FOX. Is that still happening?
Grady Hendrix: Not on FOX. They found another network and Hollywood stuff moves at a glacial pace. So I keep thinking it’s over, but then I hear, “Oh no, no, no…it’s going great!” I’m like “Really? I haven’t heard anything in a year and a half.”
Geeks of Doom: [laughing] No one gave you a call or sent you an email?
Grady Hendrix: No. No one is going to talk to me. The writer is the least important person in the room. I mean, out of everyone there, I’m probably the guy to run and get coffee.
Geeks of Doom: But it’s your baby.
Grady Hendrix: It is, but it’s free. It’s making new friends. It’s going off to college. I hope it’s doing well [this guy is really funny].
Geeks of Doom: [laughing] Maybe it will write.
Grady Hendrix: Yeah, exactly.
Geeks of Doom: So I didn’t read We Sold Our Souls yet, obviously [it releases this September]. Do you want to tell me a little bit about it?
Grady Hendrix: Yeah. This is my heavy metal book, and it’s basically about a metal band from the ’90s that never made it. But their lead singer ditched them and went off, and became this huge solo act, almost as if Ozzy had ditched Black Sabbath and Black Sabbath had never gone anywhere. And so years later, all of his old band mates have jobs at Best Western and selling real estate, and they realize that he got all his fame and fortune, not by selling his soul, but by selling theirs. And… they’re upset and they set out to confront him. And it’s funny, so actually the lead character is named Kris Pulaski and it was gonna be a book about angry dudes, like those guys that stay in bands long past it’s reasonable, and really hold onto that dream. And then I went to an election night party in 2016. It was one of those that a lot of people went to where it was a very Brooklyn-y couple I knew who were all in for Clinton, and the party started getting dark around 9:30pm. My wife and I kinda snuck out the door around 10:30pm and at that point one of the hosts was crying and the other had stopped talking to people, and everyone was sort of just looking around like awkwardly. The artisanal charcuterie platter was just curdling on the kitchen island, and by the time I got to the lobby I was like, Kris is a woman. If you are going to write a book about somebody right now, who has been completely squashed by life, it has to be a woman. If there is anyone right now on this planet that feels just completely not heard, not listened to, invisible, and unimportant… and that was the real key to start writing it. As soon as Kris became a women it was like “boom!” the whole thing worked.
Geeks of Doom: Metal and women… they mix.
Grady Hendrix: Oh, totally.
Geeks of Doom: Any heavy metal bands you like?
Grady Hendrix: So I’m really not a big metal fan. I like Black Sabbath and Metallica – everyone does. And it’s funny. I grew up in the ’80s, so I’m a sucker for all the acts. It doesn’t sound like metal anymore.
Geeks of Doom: No, I know. I’m going to see Poison and Cheap trick at the end of June.
Grady Hendrix: Poison just sounds like pop these days. Even Judas Priest and Iron Maiden from the ’80s, they sound like heavy pop acts. So it’s funny. As I started listening to more and more stuff. I like Mastodon as much as the next person. You know Wolves in the Throne Room, I’m good with. I fell in love with the Devon Townsend Project, but really my tastes are pretty traditional. I was doing all the Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween, all that stuff.
Geeks of Doom: Well, that’s the time.
Grady Hendrix: The thing that was actually really fun for me was stumbling across Girlschool, which I had never listened to. I was doing a girl playing metal so I was The Plasmatics, Pat Benatar who was in her prime, such a badass. And Girlschool is a blast. They’re almost more like rockabilly than metal, but they’re fun.
Geeks of Doom: What are you reading now?
Grady Hendrix: So I’ve been reading a ton of paperbacks from the ’70s and early ’80s about BigFoot because I’m writing an article for Fangoria about BigFoot fiction. So I’m reading and there’s not that much of it, and the worst things about BigFoot fiction is apparently if we set out on an expedition to the wild to find BigFoot, the first thing everyone wants to do is have sex with Bigfoot.
Geeks of Doom: Really?
Grady Hendrix: Oh my god. Every one of these books take this weird sexual turn at some point and I’m just like, “Why? why? We were halfway through!” Bigfoot was just eating everyone at the party and now he’s just abducted the biologist to be his mate. This always happens. Either we are having sex with Bigfoot or Bigfoot is having sex with us. But BigFoot is amazing to me because I find the belief in him to be so optimistic. We haven’t completely turned the country into a mall, and some people actually believe that there’s BigFoot out there, like undiscovered, and that’s so awesome if there is. That’s great. I hope they never find him.
Geeks of Doom: I mean I think Chewbacca is obviously BigFoot.
Grady Hendrix: Clearly there’s a planet of BigFeet and Chewbacca is one.
Geeks of Doom: Last thing. Tell me something quirky about you or about Quirk Books.
Grady Hendrix: Well, the thing I would say about Quirk is that I’ve been with them for 3 years now, and they have never once ever in my contract said I have to give bone marrow or an internal organ.
Geeks of Doom: Well, that’s good.
Grady Hendrix: I feel like that’s the sign of a quality publisher. If they don’t try to break you down and sell you for parts on the black market, that publisher is A-number-one.
What a fantastic interview! I’m really looking forward to reviewing We Sold Our Souls: A Novel by Grady Hendrix, set to release on September 18th, 2018.
Follow me on Twitter.