ANDERSEN PRUNTY INTERVIEW
Interview conducted by Gabino Iglesias
Andersen Prunty is the author of way too many books to name. Among them are some of my favorites: Satanic Summer, Fuckness, The Warm Glow of Happy Homes, and Hi I'm a Social Disease. His latest collection, Creep House, is outstanding, so I thought it'd be a good idea to ask him a few questions about it.
Gabino Iglesias: Your brand of horror marries weirdness with traditional spooky things until it becomes something entirely new. In Creep House, you take that a step further and deliver some stories in which the atmosphere is creepy as hell despite the absence of bizarre events or monsters. Did you plan on stretching new muscles/the genre or did that just happen?
Andersen Prunty: Most of my writing just happens. I don't really outline or plan anything. Stories usually just go in the direction the atmosphere and characters take them. With the exception of two stories that are quite a few years old, most of this was written in late spring/early summer of this year.
GI: Creep House is a collection of horror stories, but it reads like a novel, like a cohesive narrative about a place and its residents. I guess we could call it a scary biography of place. Was that cohesion planned or did it pop up all by itself? How do you go about choosing the setting for your stories?
AP: I set this one in the house and town I live in. One of my friends had lived in the same house a few years prior. Also, my girlfriend and I had been in and out of many, many houses with a realtor and there's always that sense of wondering what went on in it before you got there. And some people leave enough behind to give you a very vague, surface idea of who they were. One of our neighbors had mentioned that no one really rented this house for more than a year and it made me wonder why. And, of course, everything I could come up with was terrible.
GI: There's a bit of a critique of the current state of publishing in one of the stories, but your career seems to be a million miles away from that mess. Am I wrong? Did you figure out some secret to staying mellow?
AP: I still get up and go to a day job so the term "career" makes me laugh a lot in regards to myself. I write books and publish them myself. Some of them do okay. When I have the time, I publish other people's books I like. That's pretty much the only way I stay sane doing this. I'm not really that mellow. I just stopped doing what I didn't want to do. Or maybe I'm just tired.
GI: I judge books by their covers, and your covers are consistently outstanding. Would you mind telling everyone I'm right and that covers do matter?
AP: Thanks. Covers might matter a little. They can draw a person into a book, but they can't make them like the book. I can't remember the last time I bought a book based on the cover. A terrible cover can hurt a book, definitely. But, as with most things, art is very subjective. I've been a horror reader for years and read most of those in spite of, not because of, the covers. Tons of novels have great covers and are just fucking terrible. I pay way more attention to the description, scanning the writing style, and recommendations from people whose opinions I trust.
GI: You have a few short horror story collections and it looks like you're still not done. What draws you from this particular format?
AP: I've always liked writing and reading short stories. Creep House is the first one made up of stories (mostly) specifically written for that collection. Most of the other ones are compilations from things that had been submitted to or published in magazines and anthologies. It was nice being able to write something to go straight from me to the reader. I think it was Stephen King who said a novel is like a marriage and short stories are like affairs. I like being able to explore different characters and themes without spending a year or more on them.
GI: I'd love to see Sociopaths in Love or Satanic Summer on the big screen. Which of your books would you like to see turned into a movie (despite the fact that they'd probably ruin it)?
AP: Probably Sociopaths, for potential audience reaction more than anything.
GI: "Room 19," which appears in Hi I'm A Social Disease, is based on Nick Cave's "From Her to Eternity." What were you listening to while working on Creep House? What role does music play in your creative process?
AP: I listen to a lot of music. I would say that it's essential to my creative process. It's probably essential to my existence. The only time the tv is ever on is if I'm actively watching a movie so there's always music playing in the house. I created a playlist for Creep House:
1. "Slightly Floating" – Trust
2. "Weightless Again" – The Handsome Family
3. "Creep On Creepin' On" – Timber Timbre
4. "Love It or Leave It" – Asaf Avidan
5. "Iota" – Angel Olsen
6. "Among the Pines" – Those Poor Bastards
7. "We Call Upon the Author" – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
8. "Evil Blooms" – Dum Dum Girls
9. "Recover" – CHVRCHES
10. "Small" – Portishead
11. "Convinced of the Hex" – The Flaming Lips
12. "Interstellar Overdrive" – Pink Floyd
13. "Contact" – Daft Punk
GI: Creep House has a few elements that show up in various stories, which makes me think that you had the whole book in mind while writing. Was that the case? If the answer is yes, was this the first time you did this?
AP: I'm usually carrying around a handful of obsessions with every book so it's probably not the first time I've done it. I never have a whole book in mind when I'm writing. That would suck the fun out of the process, but I do spend a lot more time thinking about what I'm going to write than I actually do writing.
GI: HorrorTalk readers read horror all year long. Any recommendations?
- Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
- Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis
- High Life by Matthew Stokoe
- Tampa by Alissa Nutting
- Wetlands by Charlotte Roche
Probably not all of those are specifically horror and the Bret Easton Ellis is probably the only one even remotely supernatural but, lately, those have been my go-to recommendations. This year I revisited all Clive Barker's Books of Blood that I loved in high school. I really enjoyed that. And I'm trying to finish out the year by reading any of Peter Straub's books I haven't read yet.
GI: What's next for you?
AP: Complete alienation followed by homelessness, probably.
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