In the short story Night Tales Not Told, which appears in the Legendary Horrors anthology, an investigative reporter gets the interview of the century...with the Boogeyman.Â Author Brian Pettera gave us a few minutes to discuss his story and more.
Tell us about your story, Night Tales Not Told.
One of my teachers suggestedÂ that I write a story that could become a series. So I worked out a reality news program in a world where the supernatural is hidden but not unknown. This was a few years back before the onset of Urban Fantasy and shows like Ghost Whisperer and Supernatural. The idea was to write a few stories with news teams going out and investigative reporting myths to bring them to light. Now it's called Ghost Hunters.
What inspired you to write the story?
Â I wanted to get behind the eyes of one of those smarmy news anchors. They always seem so fake to me. I think that's more perception (mine) than reality. Most of them have already paid the dues to get where they are.
Â Particularly with the horror genre, readers often read a story and try to imagine what it says about the author.Â What do you think your story says about you?Â
This is a morality play on perception and reality. It's meant to make the reader think on what's actually important in one's life. I wrote it in a period where I was discovering that.
Â Who are some of your favorite writers in the genre?
Probably just King. The funny thing is I'm really a Fantasy writer. To me Horror, Urban Fantasy and normal Modern Fantasy are all different facets of the same type story. Some just darker than others. What's scarier? Pet Semetary or Silence of the Lambs? One is considered Horror the other not. A lot of the thriller genre these days might have been considered Horror 20 years ago. The lines are blurring, and I think that's a good thing.
Who are some of your favorite writers outside of horror?
Â Tolkien, Allan Dean Foster, Isaac Asimov, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Larry Niven, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, and lately Kim Harrison & Kelley Armstrong.
Volumes have been written on the human need to be scared.Â What is it about the horror genre that you think attracts readers?
Â It's like "the Boogeyman" said in the story. Mankind has a congenital longing or need to find something greater than itself. To fill in the holes of knowledge or faith. I also think people need challenges to overcome. When they achieved at a high level then they'll look for something supernaturally big to overcome. They know it's a ghost story but they read it anyway. They know the house is supposed to be haunted, so let's stay overnight anyway. Everyday you survive the terror is another day you've been alive.
Is there any one story, movie, or moment that stands out for you in terms of your decision to write horror?Â
No, not really. One of the best books I've ever read was King's "The Stand". It seems that whenever I'm working on short stories they usually end up horror. Who'd of thunk it?
Â What is the single best piece of advice you ever received regarding writing?Â Â
Some stuff from aÂ Michael Stackpole writing workshop. Now, I want to be a novelist, but this advice works as much for all but the shortest of stories. Â He said, "Aside from not writing at all, the greatest mistake made by writers is going back over and over and continually refining old work. I can't count the number of times I've heard writers say, "I'm working on a novel and I have a perfect first chapter." Let's make this very clear: a perfect chapter is not a novel. It is a chapter. There is not much of a call for chapters, perfect or otherwise. There aren't many writers who are known as chapterists. There is neither a Pulitzer nor a Nobel for chapters, and you can tell that the National Book Award is looking for a bit more than just a chapter, too. The simple fact of the matter is this: you're not a novelist until you've finished a novel."
What he means is that you've got to finish a work before you can critically revise it. Too many people start something and never finish it because it isn't perfect. Well, Duh! No first draft is perfect. If you think you might have to change something, make a note of it and forge on. The process of interpreting your notes and refining things in revision will smooth over or solve Â any problem you run into. You'll have a way better minds eye look at what you were intending when you finish it the first time.
What other projects are you working on?
Other than keeping an eye out for calls for a couple of other finished stories, I'm actively working on a short story for the Â Blood, Fangs, and Fire writing contest.Â I had a Tibetan dragon story already half finished; the challenge will be tying in the Vampire angle.Â Â I'm also working on a Caribbean-themed YA novel, with modern day teenagers and The Bermuda Triangle, Haitian medicine Women, Pirates and sinister plots! I need to be done with that by year's end.Â I'm also in the planning stages of a thriller/Urban fantasy that ties 6th century Celtic druid propheciesÂ with Native American lore all wrapped around an "End of Days" theme. Just doing the research is interesting!
What are your hobbies/interests outside of horror?
I sing andÂ play with graphical arts.
Learn more about Legendary Horrors.