Horror in Oz
Interview With Greg Chapman
1. So, art or writing? Or art and writing? Do you prefer one above the other, or are they both complementary and feed each other?
I love doing both, but strangely, writing and ideas for stories comes much easier to me. It’s not as labour intensive to put words down, and being a visual person, I find it effortless to conjure scenes in my head while writing. The drawing was the first thing to surface when I was a kid, and I learned about story by reading comic books. The writing, and specifically horror writing, came much later. I illustrate when I’m in the mood for it, or if I’ve been approached by a publisher to do a job for them. Right now I’m finalising a series of drawings for a horror-themed colouring book, so call me crazy. Ironically, my art is more lucrative than my writing. A shorter answer would be yes, I think they complement each other.
2. You once said in an interview that the one question you wished you'd get asked but never do is, "why are you so sick?" So here's your chance: You write horror, you draw horror, you're one of the good guys working your butt off backstage to help promote the horror genre, and you also do an insane job each Halloween decorating your house. Clearly there's something wrong with you. Why are you so sick? (And because you've been dying to be asked this question, we expect at least two paragraphs in response.)
Yeah, I must be "sick." I’m the black sheep in the family. I have three older brothers who are all into sports, whereas I prefer to toil away at my desk inside my own head, writing and drawing. I’m not sure where it comes from. I explored this idea in one of my novellas. I used to be terrified of the dark when I was a kid, so maybe I’m just channeling repressed nightmares into my stories (we’re getting a bit Freudian now, aren’t we?). I guess it’s the creative outlet I was drawn to. I have a (some would say) “unhealthy” interest in the macabre, and I feel compelled to explore it. I don’t want people to be "scared" off reading horror because it has so much to say about who we are as human beings, with all our flaws and fetishes. As for Halloween, my family and I decided to do the yard haunt thing because it’s bloody fun and I want it to catch on more in Australia. We had about 150-200 people visit last year, so I must be doing something right.
3. What's your take on the horror genre at the moment? Have you seen any evolution in the genre that excites you?
It’s hard to say. There are some fantastic authors and stories out there, but I feel they are only being read by a dedicated group of readers. The genre is always striving to evolve, but there are still too few female horror authors, and too few authors of diverse backgrounds. How can we change this? By buying and reading more horror, by encouraging more up-and-coming authors. I think the most significant change has happened in film, with recent movies like THE BABADOOK, IT FOLLOWS, and THE VVITCH drawing viewers into the power of the horror story (if only movie aficionados and producers knew how many great books were out there). As far as publishing goes, many new small press companies are emerging and while this is great, there seems to be a lot of unhealthy criticism which the genre as a whole doesn’t need. If the recent collapse of Samhain Publishing is anything to go by, we need to support each other, not necessarily serve up harsh criticisms, but I’m sure many would disagree with me.
4. I know you've published many illustrative works and short stories, plus your first novel is coming out later this year; but you have also written quite a number of novellas. Is there something that draws you to stories of this length?
I love novellas. They’re great to read and write. I feel that they’re perfect for horror fiction. They allow the reader to dive in, and because they’re short, the pacing is quick and the scares are aplenty. I also favour novellas because they force me to polish my own writing before I consider writing a novel.
5. Using the same questions AJ posed to me, what's next for Greg Chapman?
I want to return to the world and characters I created in The Noctuary, and once I’m done with this colouring book and preparing my debut novel, Hollow House, for publication this year, I intend on writing a novel-length sequel to that 2011 novella. I also have a couple of out-of-print books that will be republished this year, so 2016 is already off to a great start. Apart from that, who knows where my nightmares will take me?
Greg Chapman is a horror author and artist from Australia. After joining the Australian Horror Writers Assn. in 2009, Greg was selected for its mentor program under the tutelage of author Brett McBean. Since then he’s had more than a dozen short stories published in magazines and anthologies in Australia, the U.S., and the United Kingdom.
Greg is the author of four novellas: Torment, The Noctuary (Damnation Books, 2011), Vaudeville (2012), and The Last Night of October (Bad Moon Books, 2013). His debut collection, Vaudeville and Other Nightmares, was published by Black Beacon Books in September, 2014.
He is also a horror artist and his first graphic novel, Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, written by Bram Stoker Award®-winning authors Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton was published by McFarland & Company in 2012. Witch Hunts won the Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel category at the Bram Stoker Awards® on June 15, 2013.
He also illustrated the comic series Allure of the Ancients for Midnight Echo Magazine. His latest illustrative work is the one-shot comic, Bullet Ballerina, written by Tom Piccirilli, for SST Publications in the United Kingdom.
In January 2016, Voodoo Press published his fifth novella, The Eschatologist. Lycan Valley Press will re-release a second edition of Torment in 2016, and Greg recently signed with Omnium Gatherum Media to publish his debut novel, Hollow House, in the autumn of 2016.