September 4th also sees the publication of Chad A. Clark’s horror novella And Blood Did Fall as an ebook (with a cover by Adrian Baldwin). Towards the end of Lockdown, Dean and Chad talked about it.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome Chad, nice to meet you. For those that aren’t aware of you or your work can you tell us a little about yourself?
CHAD A. CLARK: Hi, of course. I’ve always been a passionate reader. I was reading fully on my own before I even started school so that has always been a strong suit. Add to that an early love of film and I suppose it was a natural progression for me to move on to my own storytelling. As to what drew me to horror specifically, I don’t know if that’s something I can track as well. It was just what I felt naturally drawn to and I think if I try to analyze it more than that it would be indulging in too much pop psychology. Let’s just say that these are the clothes that have always been the most comfortable on me.
DP: I like it – and can you please give us some specifics about your novella…
CAC: I had really wanted for some time to tell a really gritty noir sort of story. Up until now the exact shape of that never really felt right to me. I also had a notion of bringing back a monster that I had used previously in a blog, sort of part vampire, part body thief. Somehow, those two notions ended up dovetailing. The story is set around a detective who professionally, is kind of at the end of her rope. She ended up a police officer after an injury ended her naval career before it really got started. She finds herself now beating her head up against multiple walls, gaining the respect of her male co-workers while at the same time trying to make a difference in a city landscape that just seems to drown in crime. She isn’t in a happy place when the story starts and I tried to sketch a landscape that would reflect that.
DP: We really loved your protagonist by the way! In writing And Blood Did Fall, did you have to do much in the way of research?
CAC: I don’t bring a ton of technical detail to my writing. I’m just not that kind of artist. I love guys like Tom Clancy but that kind of writing is just around the bend from my abilities. My stories tend to focus on the characters and the immediate experiences of those characters. I think my roots in flash fiction puts me in a mindset where I try to cook the story down to the essential elements. As such, beyond some occasional details I need, I don’t find myself immersing myself in research.
DP: So you didn’t find it hard to write?
CAC: There are always aspects of every book that I struggle with. This originally was a five part short story that I expanded into a full length novella so it was a challenge to get it properly expanded. I had some feedback from an early version that the story was a little too straight forward so I had the challenge of coming up with a completely new subplot and weaving it into the main narrative. There were chapters that had me banging my head on the table but I’m a firm believer in forcing through those harder moments and just like other projects, everything began to click with this one as well.
DP: I do like the ‘shortness’ of several scenes / passages so to see that it originally started life as a short story fits that pattern – cool. Creatively Chad what would you say is your biggest success (so far obviously).
CAC: I suppose the moment I am most proud of creatively was in having a short story selected to be included in a tribute to the late, great George Romero, titled ‘Stories of the Dead’. I wrote a story that functions as a sort of theoretical bridge between Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead. Being able to play in that narrative world as well as having the chance to pay tribute to such a creative luminary was an incredible honor for me.
DP: Oh, I bet. I’m not sure if you’ve seen it but I love George’s take on Stephen King’s The Dark Half – very influential…talking of which who influences you?
CAC: Ha ha - Stephen King would be the easy answer to that question! He’s the one author I have read for most of my life and was the subject of my one non-fiction title, Tracing The Trails, in which I read and reviewed all of his books in order of publication. I would be kidding myself if I tried to deny that his style hasn’t affected my work. Growing up, in terms of horror, Anne Rice and Robert McCammon were two regulars I read quite a bit of. At an early age, I was a huge fan of John Bellairs and his work was probably some of my gentle introductions to the horror genre. Outside of horror, growing up in the nineties it was hard to avoid the elephants in the room that were John Grisham and Michael Crichton. I was also a pretty big Tom Clancy fan. And finally, in terms of indie and small press horror, I’m a huge fan of Rich Hawkins and Duncan Ralston. Also loving work from Thomas Flowers, Laura Mauro, the Sisters Of Slaughter and Patrick Loveland, just to name a few. I’m always on the lookout for a new pen to watch.
DP: Some great great names there! What would you say is a great definition of ‘horror’?
CAC: Horror is a few things to me and it isn’t necessarily about feeling horrified as the reader or the viewer. It sounds illogical and I see often repeated sentiments along the lines of, “That’s not horror. It didn’t scare me at all.” And while I can certainly understand the sentiment, I think that sets up too arbitrary of a standard by which to define the genre. What scares you and me and anyone else is likely to be totally different so I don’t think you can really say that horror is only what scares me. For me, horror is about the narrative immediacy of plunging a character or a group of characters into a truly horrific situation. And while you might not feel the pitter-patter of your own heartbeat you should at least recognize how dire your situation would be if that was you on the page. Horror for me is about the characters and the visceral experience you get from sitting on that character’s shoulders. Finally, I think that horror is something that engages you on a moral level. Many argue that horror glorifies violence but for me it’s more about rocking you in your beliefs and perspectives and forcing you to hold steady under the weight. It’s about digging into your own morality and exploring the darker sides of your emotional reactions. Horror is about challenging you on all levels. And then letting you walk away, safe and sound.
DP: That’s a wonderful definition, I’ll make a note of that – thanks Chad. Is there any horror book or film you’re looking forward to?
CAC: Having kids, I don’t really keep up with films and I’m not always on top of upcoming releases. As far as books go I am interested in Josh Malarman’s followup to Bird Box. But I find I’m more about paying attention to authors. Rich Hawkins and Duncan Ralston are two that I keep an eye out for new books and obviously I’m always up for grabbing the latest from Stephen King. On the film side of things I am actually pretty excited for the upcoming adaptation of The Stand on CBS’s streaming platform.
DP: The Stand…how very apt for right now! But you’re right, that should be a fun one…what scares Chad A. Clark?
CAC: It’s funny, just the other day I was thinking about how often I see people on Facebook asking for recommendations for horror books that will “really scare them”. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I wish I could get so immersed in a book that it actually makes me feel fear but it’s pretty rare. In terms of movies, paranormal content has probably reached me the most consistently and a lot of my writing reflects that. I do tend to the claustrophobic side and I definitely dipped into that fear for a few chapters of my novella, The Child At The End Of Time. And of course from an early age I’ve been fascinated by great monsters and for sure I brought that love to bear on this story.
DP: Oh you did for sure. Creatively Chad is there anything you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet? If so – what is it?
CAC: I would really like to be involved in writing a comic book. Comics were a huge part of my childhood growing up and I think my narrative sensibilities would be well suited for the medium. I also don’t really know how that process works and the more opportunities I have to learn, all the better. Now whether that experience would be in an already formed comic universe, I don’t know. But I think it would be a special thrill to see a story of mine accompanied by some great artwork.
DP: Definitely, I’m actually speaking to some comic book artists at the moment about a couple of projects – I have to admit, I’d love to see all the DEMAIN titles as comic books…food for thought there. Okay, so the Lockdown – how are you handling it?
CAC: Lockdown has been rough to be sure. We haven’t seen most of our family in months and have been contesting with the stress of home schooling on top of everything else. Everyone is healthy, thankfully but we live in a scary part of a scary country right now. In terms of work, I’ve actually been doing a ton of editing for my publishing imprint, Darker Worlds Publishing. It’s only been recently that I’ve started having time to work on my own stuff. I get up around twelve-thirty (AM) and go to work. I’m home after that and don’t leave until the next time I go to work. Save for grocery trips, we stay at home. Life with COVID is day to day and we find ourselves constantly having to recalibrate. Luckily for me I have a great family around me and together we have been holding up really well.
DP: I’m glad everybody is healthy and that you’ve been able to get some work done. It’s certainly been something I never thought I’d see in my life-time…finally Chad, can you tell your readers something which might surprise them?
CAC: There is a tiny possibility - and when I say tiny I mean TINY - a tiny chance that I could be related to Shirley Jackson. It has to do with a General during the American Revolution that our two families might have a connection with. Our relation to the General has not been substantiated and I doubt that I’m actually related to her but considering the path I have gone down, it is fun to think about.
It certainly is!
Chad thanks for your time, it is very much appreciated. Best of luck with And Blood Did Fall.
If you would like to connect with Chad direct: