Hey, All! I’ve got an early Halloween treat for you today. Author Hunter Shea (he of the creepy thriller Forest of Shadows) has graciously agreed to drop in today to answer five of my questions.
Here we go…
1. Hunter, the opening chapter of Forest of Shadows is a real shocker. What inspired that scene, and was that the first scene you wrote for the book?
Wow, thanks. You know, when I read a book or watch a movie, I always want it to start out with a bang. Suck me into your world from the get-go, kick me in the teeth. The beginning people see in Forest of Shadows is, if I remember correctly, the fourth version I came up with and finally felt satisfied with. I wanted to get the reader’s adrenaline pumping right from the start. For some reason, I kept thinking of Evil Dead as I wrote that part, with a dash of The Haunting. The key was to build suspense from sentence one and keep the momentum rocketing like a runaway missile, hopefully delivering some scares along the way.
2. Your style is a wonderful combination of descriptiveness and fast-paced readability. What authors have influenced your writing style?
Again, thank you. Can I hire you as a personal motivator? Is there any horror author today who hasn’t been influenced by Stephen King? He is a master at building a cast of characters, sometimes even whole towns, that you as the reader become totally emotionally invested in. That’s one of the keys for horror fiction. If you don’t care about the characters, what does it matter if they’re running for their life or facing down a monster? Other big influences are Brian Lumley, who penned the best vampire books every written (apologies to Mr. Stoker), Robert McCammon, Algernon Blackwood, Peter Straub, Hugh B Cave and Clive Barker. Throughout my teens and into adulthood, I devoured everything they wrote. I pray I subconsciously picked up some of their good habits.
3. The setting of your novel is so vivid that it might as well be a character. Have you ever lived or visited a place similar to the setting in your book, and if not, has any place ever given you the same creepy vibe?
Alaska is one of those places that has always been on my bucket list to visit. I’ve traveled all across the country, but I’ve yet to make it up there, so this was my way of living in Alaska for the time it took to write the book. I did a lot of research and kept pictures of Alaska posted around my writing area to keep me wired in. Since I was a child, I’ve been going annually to a little town in Maine that definitely helped me get a feel for small town life in the north. Ironically, Stephen King lived in that same town (Bridgton) and wrote several books there. The Mist is actually, I believe, set in Bridgton. I didn’t realize this until about 15 years ago, so maybe I’ve just latched onto some of the vibes he left behind.
4. You’re a bona fide horror aficionado. Can you talk about the scariest book or the scariest movie you’ve ever read or seen? What about the book/movie unnerved you so much?
One of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen never gets the horror cred it deserves. The Sentinel is one of those gritty, visceral movies from the 70s (the best decade for film, hands down) that just freaked me out. Set in a Brooklyn brownstone that is possibly the gateway to hell, there are scenes in there that still give me the chills. Between the subject, sounds, visuals and jarring music, you can’t help but be on edge. And it must have the biggest cast of bonafide movie stars in horror history. When it comes to books, Bentley Little is a master at taking a slice of ordinary life like going to a resort or your local Walmart, and turning it into your worst nightmare. Books of his that flipped me out are The Town, The Store and The Association. For a good, old time fright job, pick up anything by Algernon Blackwood. I dare you. (cue sinister laugh)
5. Hunter, I have to admit that I’ve become a bit of a Monster Men junkie. Talk about what inspired you to create that show, how you and Jack decide on a topic, and whether or not you two ever violently disagree on a book or movie?
Jack and I grew up in different states, but loving the exact same things. We always talk about our favorite horror movies, books, even old time radio shows. For years we kept saying, you know, we ought to do a show where just a couple of regular guys talk about horror. We finally got down to it this summer, and it’s been a blast. We usually film 4 or more episodes at a time, and have a quick meeting beforehand to determine what the topics will be. We’re so in synch, it’s scary, so there really isn’t a lot of back and forth or hand wringing over what we want to film. We may have been conjoined twins in another life. I could definitely see us in a traveling freak show. There are some things we disagree on, but Jack knows that if he ever wanted to throw down, I’d have him in the mother of all choke holds. Hahahaha. Nah, we’d probably square off, then realize there are beers to be drunk and laugh. We’re expanding the show over the next few months and even introduced mini episodes of under 5 minutes with reviews of new movies (The Thing and Paranormal Activity 3 kick things off). I just read a review someone posted on Amazon for Forest of Shadows where the person said they bought the book because they liked us on Monster Men and felt I wouldn’t steer them wrong. That’s all the fuel us Monster Men need. Stay tuned for more and my second book with Samhain, Evil Eternal, coming out next spring!
And there you have it.
Hunter Shea: great writer, lover of all things horror, and all-around cool dude.
Forest of Shadows is on sale now.