Horror Author Grady Hendrix Shows His "Wicked" Side Oct. 20-21
September 18, 2017 — Horror author Grady Hendrix couldn’t suppress his wicked sense of humor even when answering our questions before his presentation at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, in the Library Center auditorium. Hendrix is a featured speaker during the Library’s series “Oh, the Horror!” exploring the popular and sometimes maligned horror genre. Hendrix will also be available at 3 p.m. that day, Oct. 21, at the Schweitzer Brentwood Branch, for a casual Q&A with the public and members of the Donuts & Death book discussion group,
After his novel “My Best Friend’s Exorcism,” the Wall Street Journal called him “a national treasure.” His newest, “Paperbacks from Hell,” chronicles the boom in horror paperback publishing in the 70s and 80s after “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Exorcist” and “The Other.
1) What would someone unfamiliar with the horror genre find appealing about your books?
For the sake of their own sanity, I hope no one reads my books. “Horrorstör” made a lot of people think that IKEA was a menacing, dangerous, haunted labyrinth of terror rather than a lovely Scandinavian superstore featuring simple designs and good values. High school is hard enough without hearing that you might be possessed by a demon and only a bodybuilding exorcist can help.
2) Many people equate the horror genre with “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” stories. Not true?
Horror gets a bad rap because the people who say they’re into horror are usually saying it for shock value as they bulge their eyes at you and waggle their fingers in your face. Nathaniel Hawthorne was a horror writer. William Faulkner wrote several horror stories, as did Henry James and Edith Wharton. Who wasn’t forced to read “1984” or “Lord of the Flies” in high school? Those are horror novels. Also, only five people die in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” By the time “Hamlet” ends, nine people have been drowned, stabbed, decapitated and poisoned.
3) What are some of the horrors you'll discuss in “Paperbacks from Hell” October 21?
I don’t know what’s so outrageous about swarms of killer rabbits gnawing on old tramps, or 25,000 tons of maggots overrunning the country, or an invasion of giant crabs led by King Crab, the crustacean Winston Churchill. To you, it may seem weird when albino dwarf wizards take over the New York City subway system, but to me it’s just one of those things that happens. Read enough old horror paperbacks and you’ll learn that North Dakota is home to a reincarnated witch/serial killer who cruises around in a limo and abducts teenagers and is allergic to electricity. This is real life.
4) Your one-man show, “Summerland Lost,” at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, at Springfield Little Theatre, focuses on the lives of the Fox sisters and their claim to speak to the dead. What drew you to that story?
For years I worked at the American Society for Psychical Research. I spent a lot of time in their archive and library, which contained a huge amount of material about the early days of spiritualism and I was amazed more people weren’t talking about this story. In the 19th century, abolitionists, anarchists, suffragettes, con artists, visionaries, lunatics, artists and some of the greatest performing magicians ever born came together to proclaim there was no Hell, that death was not a punishment, and that all people — men and women, black and white — should be equal because we are all equal in the afterlife. It’s an extraordinary story.