Well, I don’t actually watch or enjoy most of what’s offered these days as horror. Slashers are just boring; and, honestly, life is tough enough. Yeah, these kinds of films are horrific, but . . . snore . . . I mean, if you’re into blood and stuff, sure, but way too many people equate a ton of gore with what’s scary. Most of these slasher flicks with the guts and the sadistic chop-em-up sequences? Meh. It’s corn syrup, folks.
What’s much more intriguing/frightening/scarilicious are the things you only imagine and don’t see: that Boogey-Man under your bed, for example, or what you only see out of the corner of your eye. So I guess I really only have two favorite horror films. The first Blair Witch was super because it exploited the unseen. I think I must’ve poked my husband a couple hundred times: What did he say? Did you see that? What was that? I kept trying to see better. You know, squint and bring things into focus? It was brilliant.
My second favorite is Alien. (I just adore and, in my film academia days, wrote about those films, although I have not seen Prometheus and got zip interest in doing so). That first film is another superb example of things that are scariest when they are a) unexpected and b) ever-shifting/hardly seen. Alien is a haunted house-Halloween-style film set on a ship in outer space (and, no, I actually don’t care for Halloween).
And, frankly, the real reason I will always have a soft spot for Alien: the film made my date scream like a girl.
What influences, if any, did these movies have on the Ashes trilogy?
None, really, although I guess you could say that the Changed being so unknowable is a bit like worrying about that Boogey-Man under the bed. They’re creepy because you can’t really get into their heads—and, yeah, they’ve undergone this major lifestyle change.
Now, I can understand where people would think I’m big into slashers or something, but I’m not. Anything I put in a novel is there for a purpose, not simply to amp up the gross-out factor, or because I’ve run out of ideas. My characters are in horrific, horrible circumstances. For me, it’s not about the gore. It’s about what people are capable of doing to one another: the horror of brutality.