Short Sharp Shocks! 61 is Old Slosh & The Wind Chill Factor by Ryan Bevan. The book is released on the 27th November but is currently available for pre-sales. The cover is by Adrian Baldwin. Dean and Ryan sat down to talk about it…
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome Ryan – for those that don’t know you could you tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer?
RYAN BEVAN: It’s a pleasure to be here…I grew up in Quebec, in a small town on the south shore of Montreal. When I was in Grade 7, my English teacher read a short story that I had written out loud to the class. She was merciful enough to keep it anonymous. The story was about a kid who turned into a werewolf in the middle of class and savagely attacked his schoolmates. When she finished reading the story, all the kids in class applauded. I felt pretty good about that. I figured if I could get that response from a bunch of cynical teens like myself, maybe I had a chance.
DP: Oh nice, I like that. So can you tell us a little more about your background – has it influenced you as a writer?
RB: I come from a very average, Kevin Arnold [The Wonder Years] type, suburban background. My friends and I were into horror. We spent nights drinking beer and watching slashers. We listened to Black Sabbath. I read King and Lovecraft. I think the biggest impact my upbringing has had on my writing is how it determined my perception of the reader. Specifically, the reader that I wanted or preferred to reach. In a sense, I’ve always been chasing the applause from the high school class. My friends growing up became and still are the people that I write for. People who don’t necessarily read a lot but dig a good scary story. People that aren’t interested in a showery display of literary prowess but get a kick out of a simple, creepy campfire tale.
DP: The slashers were your first introduction to the horror genre?
RB: I’ve been into horror for so long that it’s hard to trace it back to the catalyst. I think it stemmed initially from hanging around with older kids from the neighbourhood who would watch horror movies and then relate to the younger and very impressionable kids like me the plot and the kills in unsympathetic, graphic detail. So I knew who Jason Vorhees was long before I ever watched a Friday the 13th film. The exploits of Jason, Freddy, and Michael Meyers were pretty different than what was happening in the books we read in school or the biblical tales we listened to in church. Well, maybe not that much different than the biblical tales. Some of those are pretty horrific.
DP: They are that aren’t they? Your Short Sharp Shocks! what is that about?
RB: The two tales are part of a series of stories that I began writing a year or so ago. I wanted to create a collection in the same vein as ‘Tales From The Crypt’ and ‘Creepshow’. Horror stories that are scary but don’t take themselves too seriously. Old Slosh is the more recent of the bunch, whereas The Wind Chill Factor was one of the first that I wrote.
DP: You mentioned influences there, what about books / authors…
RB: I mean, in my early teens it was Stephen King. I devoured all his works, but Night Shift was the collection that I returned to the most. I graduated, if that’s the right word, to Poe and Lovecraft. I studied English Literature at university, and I’ve always favoured the classics. Spencer, and Malory. I have a soft spot for the Romantics. Byron and Shelley in particular. Thomas Hardy, and Tolkien and the Inklings, of course. Chesterton, Robert Bloch, Bukowski, Dylan Thomas. I’m afraid I’m not very modern.
DP: There’s no harm in that – some great names there…would you say the horror genre is affected by world events and do you put them in your work?
RB: I try not to. I mean, everything can seem to apply to world events with a little interpretation. I’d rather begin with the intention of telling a story than making a statement. I think the reader feels a bit cheated once they sense they are being manipulated into adopting a certain point of view, particularly if it’s overtly political. As far as horror being affected by world events, Tolkien swore up and down that The Lord of the Rings was not an allegory for the First World War. And I believe him. Psychologically, it makes a certain amount of sense that what you’re experiencing and processing through the subconscious in response to whatever shit is going on in the world would make its way onto the page in some form or another. But if you set out with the specific intent to devise an allegory, I think you’re starting off on the wrong foot.
DP: Definitely! It’s been said that the genre is dead, what would you say to that? Do you agree?
RB: No. But personally, I think it needs a shot in the arm. I think horror needs to recover its sense of humour. It’s sense of fun. I’d rather see a crowd of moviegoers leave a horror picture with a smile on their faces like they’ve just come from a fun party rather than looking dejected, pale, and depressed, like they’ve just been watching the local news.
DP: I’m with you – everything is very depressing isn’t it – I like horror movies myself where you might have been scared witless for 90 mins but you’re busting to talk about it with your friends / family…a few years back now when I lived in London I used to go to the cinema every week with a friend of mine and we’d always be watching horror movies and some of them were downright scary where we’d be gripping the arms of the chairs but then having a laugh about it in the pub afterwards…happy days (I know he was more scared than me but would never admit it ha ha)…so, the lockdown: how did you handle it…
RB: I live in a small village in Switzerland. The local shop was open so I could get my wine and beer – and food. We could still go for walks and sit in the garden. So in that sense it did not affect us in a really profound way, besides the general anxiety that everyone felt and is still feeling. The most difficult part was isolating the kids from school and their friends. It’s very unhealthy. Keeping the kids happy, healthy, hopeful, and busy was the foundation of our routine.
DP: Final question then Ryan – have you ever interacted with your influences?
RB: Joe Hill once tweeted that he liked my band! That was pretty damn cool. In all other matters of interaction, to quote Seinfeld, “I prefer the company of nitwits.”
Ha ha – thank you so much for your time. Stay safe and well. Best of luck with Old Slosh & The Wind Chill Factor.
If you’d like to connect with Ryan direct – he’s on instagram: bevan_writer