You guys may remember me reviewing The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki last year – you guys might not know that after finishing it I pretty much bought every title written by Dan and fangirled at him at the Children’s Author Carnival in May this year. To be frank, Dan Poblocki is fantastic. He is an impeccable writer, and an all around nice guy. Therefore, when I asked him to join us for Fortnight of Fright I had high hopes, and basically squealed in delight when he agreed. Read on to hear about some of Dan’s inspirations for The Book of Bad Things – which I will be reviewing during Fornight of Fright, and let us all simultaneously pray to the horror gods that he decides to write us some creepy adult novels very soon!
The Bad Place
I once heard film-director Guillermo Del Toro say in an interview that there are three horror-story tropes that are continuously retold: stories in which our homes are being attacked, stories in which our bodies are being invaded, and stories about bad places. When I think of horror classics, they pretty much all fit. Some work in more than one category. Dracula is a perfect example – the castle in Transylvania is a bad place, and later, the vampire invades characters’ homes and infect their bodies. More typically, certain subsets within the horror genre fill the tropes in more specific ways. Slasher or serial killer tales are about home invasion. Alien, zombie, and monster myths often explore body horror. Finally, haunted house and ghost stories are perfect examples of bad places.
When I consider my own work, I find that of these ideas, the one I’ve explored the most is this last one.
What exactly is a bad place? I believe it can be anywhere that fills you with an unexplainable feeling of dread. A house, an apartment, a hotel, a forest trail, a field, a park, a room, a closet! It doesn’t even necessarily have to be a typically scary spot; maybe it’s a landscape drenched in sunshine or a room filled with toys. The thing about the archetypal bad place is that it leaves you with a feeling that you’re trespassing, that something doesn’t want you there, or maybe it does want you there but for a terrible reason. Continue reading