Interview: Robert McCammon
Conducted by Arianna and Selena Mannella
Italian site ThrillerCafé
conducted the interview below after the Italian release of Mary Terror
(MINE) by Gargoyle Books in 2010. (Note: their English introduction is
presented below as it was written.)
The original Italian interview can be read on the
ThrillerCafé website. Thanks to Arianna and Selena for sending the
original English version.
ThrillerCafè has already talked about Robert McCammon heralding his return, and
we had also promised a review of the novel Mary Terror, with a new
edition—April 2010 from Gargoyle Books—but we did much more: we
withdraw Robert from his business commitments to ask him some questions, and he
agreed to meet with great our pleasure. Robert McCammon was born in
Birmingham, is author of 13 Best Sellers and a series of short stories by
which he always had great success. After a break lasting 10 years, he recently
returned with Mister Slaughter, but today we will talk about the novel
now become a cult of his best period, Mary Terror. Someone thinks that
his novels are comparable to those of the gold period of Stephen King.
McCammon founded the prize Bram Stoker Award for Horror Writers of America.
What inspires you to write?
I have a story I want to tell. Actually, I have a story I want to read. So
I write it for myself, first of all.
Who is Mary Terror?
Mary Terror is a hardened killer who is also a desperate and lonely woman.
She has lost everything and is trying to find her place in a world she no
You are friends with a number of other horror writers, do you ever feel
the urge to compete with your friends?
No. You just do what you want to do, and I don't even think about what
other writers are doing.
How do you develop new characters?
They seem to develop themselves sometimes. I have had ideas for
characters who really do assert themselves during the course of a
story and start "taking over." I know this sounds
ridiculous, because I ultimately am in control of a character, but it
really is true. A good character comes to life sometimes in ways you
haven't anticipated, such as the way they speak or the force of their
personalities. This has just happened with a character in a short
story I recently finished.
A lot of research evidently went into the book. What research methods do
It used to be going to the library all the time or making calls to
"experts", but now I do a tremendous amount of research on the internet.
Without the internet, there'd be no way I could get all the facts I need as
quickly as I can get them.
What developments would you personally like to see occur in horror writing?
More good writing and less reliance on horror "tricks" and
old stuff that's already been done to death.
Could you tell us about Bram Stoker Awards...
The Stoker Awards came out of the Horror Writers of America organization
as a way to reward authors for outstanding works.
Is setting more important in a short work or a longer one?
Oh, good question! I'd have to think about that a while to come up with a
proper answer, but I'd say that you have to quickly emphasize details of
setting in a short work as opposed to having the luxury of space and time
in a longer work. I think setting is equally important in both long and
short works, but the shorter pieces demand a quicker pace so you have to
pick and choose details of setting very carefully to create the right
atmosphere. And, really, atmosphere is very important in writing.
How do you envision the future of electronic publishing?
I hope it will be less confusing than it is now, but I have my doubts.
There will be more and more brands of e-readers to come, all claiming
to be "the best." Hopefully in the future there will be a
standard e-reader and the dust will settle, but I'm not seeing that
happening for awhile.
What is the scariest book you've ever read?
My economics textbook in college, which I read when I thought I wanted to
go into business management. How anybody can get through that without
having their hair turn white with fear is amazing.
Have you ever suffered from writer's block and if so, how do you overcome
No, I thankfully have never suffered from writer's block and now I'll go
knock on wood to make sure I never do.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. We are huge fans
and look forward to reading your future works.
Arianna e Selena Mannella, twins Italian journalist.