Robert McCammon Interview: December 2005

December 28, 2005 logo Robert McCammon Interview
December 28, 2005

Webmaster's note: is an Italian horror website. This interview was conducted to promote the release of Hanno Sete, the Italian translation of They Thirst. You can read the interview in both Italian and English on


SC: How did you come close to literature and why, amongst all genres, did you choose horror?

RM: I think because I've always enjoyed reading so much that I wanted to try writing. I wanted to be a writer even when I was a little boy, though I thought I'd become a journalist. As far as the "horror" genre is concerned, again this is what I enjoyed reading when I was a kid. I also really enjoyed horror movies.

SC: Do you remember your emotions when you noticed your first tale had so much interest?

RM: Yes, I was thrilled. Especially excited when I saw my first book cover.

SC: In your novels, the splatter element is incredibly present; at certain moments the description is so detailed that we almost feel like it's in front of our eyes. Can this be the proof that a book is still able to give emotions that cinema or tv can not?

RM: I think this is because of the power of the imagination. Nothing can compare to the human imagination in terms of seeing "detail". Often the writer doesn't have to paint a full picture for the reader to fill in the details.

SC: When a book is read, when the pages are shut, it's like a movie's ending titles. Of your work, what do you wish to remain impressed in your readers' mind?

RM: I suppose that I tried to do some different things. Some worked and some didn't, but I always wanted to keep trying.

SC: Have you ever said, while finishing up a chapter or a part of your novel's story, ``hey, I did this part really good!''?

RM: Yes, but infrequently. I am my own most severe critic. I can do a single page twenty or more times before I'm satisfied with it. Even then when I look back on my work I can hardly read it because I think of what I should've done to make it better.

SC: In the novel They Thirst (Hanno Sete), you describe perfectly the young gangs and their battles in the suburbs of the city. A meticulous analysis of this unpleasant social hardship or there is something that binds you to this phenomenon?

RM: Research. I went to Los Angeles and saw some interesting slices of that city. Also interviewing people.

SC: Evil that spreads like a plague, an epidemic which slowly infects whole cities and menaces the entire humanity. Vampirism seen almost like a ferocius virus, impossible to eliminate, rather than a new race of living creatures. Is there any reference to today's society in the pages of They Thirst? A sort of social metaphor seen with vampires' monstrosity?

RM: Absolutely. Anything on this scale has to have social relevance or be an "image" of society, as least as I see it. If it didn't have some social relevance, I think it wouldn't have held such interest for me.

SC: A small group of humans against a whole legion of Vampires. A game that seems lost at the beginning, especially analyzing this human team that goes against the blood-sucking, people with a painful past, people with a fragile appearance. Can you explain the choice to entrust them with the destiny of the world?

RM: People are people, for good or bad. Most people don't ask for what comes their way, and how they deal with good or evil in their lives is what makes life itself a fascinating and worthwhile struggle.

SC: The choice of placing the story in Los Angeles, was it accidental or there is a particular reason?

RM: Yes, because of its massive size and because there are so many different cultures and communities there.

SC: And you, what do you really fear, Mr. McCammon?

RM: A closed mind. Either having one or having to deal with someone who has one.

SC: You have been one of Horror Writers Association's founders. What are the main reasons that brought HWA to life?

RM: Horror writers have long needed a community. I thought and hoped HWA could bring writers together. Has it succeeded? I don't know. The awards part is successful, I guess, but is it a real community?

SC: You have the fame of being a reserved, mysterious character, just like one of your novels' protagonists. Do you recognize yourself in this personal profile?

RM: Yes, and I like it that way. I've had my seven minutes of fame and it was six minutes too long. I like my solitary life and being unknown

SC: After Gone South in '92, there has been a long silence from you. That finally your great return, with Speaks the Nightbird. How come a so long pause?

RM: Personal and professional issues, too convoluted to go into here. I wanted to go in a new direction in my work, and sometimes to do that you have to shed an old skin. A very painful process, but one that I hope will be eventually rewarding--not necessarily financially, but in terms of being "free" to write what I want

SC: Do you think that Speaks the Nightbird could be distributed in Italy?

RM: I hope so. I guess this is for some publisher to answer.

SC: Is there already some new nightmare for a new novel in Robert McCammon's mind?

RM: Sure. The new novel featuring Matthew Corbett, who was the hero of Speaks The Nightbird, needs to be finished by my daughter's birthday in May.

SC: Thanks for allowing us to interview you, Mister McCammon.

RM: Thanks for asking.

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