Country Bookshelf's horror officianado Harry took a moment to chat with author Grady Hendrix about his newest title We Sold Our Souls.
Harry: You're obviously a relative expert on Horror fiction. What is it about the genre that drew you to it?
Grady: I’m not an expert on anything, but that’s nice of you to say. I never read much horror as a kid because the covers scared me too much, but as I got older I found myself going back to horror again and again because it’s the one genre that deals with death, and death is what gives our lives meaning. So to me, it’s kind of the only genre that matters.
H: My Best Friend's Exorcism had songs as chapter titles and We Sold Our Souls is all about metal. Do you have a background in music? Do you play an instrument? Do you have a favorite genre?
G: I am about as musical as a brick, but music saved my life in high school. Being able to listen to music while driving to school was what got me through my day, and that feeling has lasted my entire life. I have huge emotional reactions to some songs and I’m an ugly crier, so I’m sure there are people on the subway who look at this red-faced crybaby wearing earbuds and rapidly move away. I’ve never played an instrument, or at least not in a way that wasn’t considered a crime in some states, but I did take a few months of guitar lessons while writing We Sold Our Souls because my main character played guitar and I needed to know what that felt like.
H: Is there a type of horror story that you prefer over others? Do you prefer something psychological or supernatural?
G: I’ll take horror in all shapes and sizes. While writing Paperbacks from Hell, my history of the horror paperback boom of the Seventies and Eighties, I read hundreds of horror paperbacks I never would have otherwise touched and I found so many books I loved that I’ve learned not to have standards. Life’s more fun when you have no taste.
H: What's your process for making something scary? Is there any personal experience involved?
G: Writing is all about personal experience. We Sold Our Souls was a deeply personal book full of things that really happened to me — living on the road for a while, finding a dead body in a cemetery, arriving at Las Vegas late at night, eating in parking lots, feeling trapped in a bad contract, being broke, working miserable jobs. But writing also has the reverse effect: focusing on a book so hard for so long (it takes me about 6 months to write a novel) and the book begins to warp your life. You find things you write about happening in reality. You see parallels between the book and what’s going on around you. Emotionally, We Sold Our Souls is a really bleak book and I sunk into a bad depression while writing it. Getting my main character, Kris Pulaski, through all that horror and despair was how I got myself through it, too.
H: What's your favorite horror story? Book, movie, anything.
G: I’m going to change the question a little: one of my favorite books of all time, and one not enough people talk about, is Charles Portis’s True Grit. I re-read it every couple of years and as far as I’m concerned it’s the Great American Novel. Sure, Huckleberry Finn was the Great American Novel of the 19th century, but True Grit is the Great American Novel of the 20th century. It’s a hard-edged Western, narrated by a fourteen-year-old girl, and it’s all about how we needed tough people to build our country, but once they’ve done their job and made the world safe for rules, and banks, and law and order, we don’t need them anymore and they kind of embarrass us a little bit. It’s also very, very funny.
Harry praised We Sold Our Souls - on sale Tuesday, 9/18 - saying: "Harry praised the book, saying "At first I was like this isn't as good as My Best Friend's Exorcism, and then I got into and I was like 'This book rocks!' Grady Hendrix is a genius and I will never doubt him again!" Harry chatted with Grady about the book on our blog, check out this highlight." Pre-order your copy today and let's get metal!