Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on Grady Hendrix, one of our horror-writing friends! Grady writes horror books and movies… and an entertaining bio on his website www.gradyhendrix.com, so we’re stealing part of it for our introduction:
Grady Hendrix writes fiction, also called “lies,” and he writes non-fiction, which people sometimes accidentally pay him for. He is the author of Horrorstör, the only novel about a haunted Scandinavian furniture store you’ll ever need. NPR selected it as one of the best books of 2014 and it has been translated into 14 languages and is being turned into a television show by Gail Berman (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), and Josh Schwartz (Gossip Girl). They have never met Grady, but that is their loss.
His last novel was My Best Friend’s Exorcism, about demonic possession, friendship, exorcism, and the Eighties, out now from Quirk Books. It’s basically Beaches meets The Exorcist and it caused the Wall Street Journal to call him “a national treasure” and received rave reviews from everyone from Kirkus to Southern Living.
He also wrote Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the horror paperback boom in the Seventies and Eighties that followed the success of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, and Thomas Tryon’s The Other. It is so popular it won a Stoker Award, and while you may not know what that is, trust me when I say that it is a big, big deal that gets Grady 20% off all purchases at the Franklin Mint.
His next novel is We Sold Our Souls, a heavy metal take on the Faust legend—and ABSW have it in stock on September 18 (assuming Florence doesn’t mess with shipping), along with several other of his titles that we keep selling out of.
Thank you for being part of our Friday Spotlight, Grady! For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?
I write horror novels that readers apparently find funny, although to me I always just think I’m writing very, very seriously about the world around me.
What kind of research went into writing We Sold our Souls? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
We Sold Our Souls is a heavy metal horror novel, so I had to go deep on metal, a genre that I’ve never been cool enough to appreciate. In the process I learned that a) metalheads are the nicest people, b) Black Sabbath is where everything begins, c) David Lee Roth is my spirit animal, d) death metal isn’t for me, e) Black metal is a hell of a lot of fun, f) but nothing is more fun than 80s hair metal.
What was the inspiration for We Sold Our Souls? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
I was originally writing a book about dudes in a metal band who had their souls sold out from under them back in the Nineties but it wasn’t coming together. Then in November, 2016 I went to a horrible election night party and realized that if I wanted to write about people who were despised and hated by the entire world, I had to write about women. As soon as I gender swapped my lead, the book took off like a rocket.
What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out We Sold Our Souls? How did you overcome that challenge?
I’m not a musical person, so writing about musicians was tough. I wound up taking guitar lessons while writing the book, however, which solved that problem.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
Myself. Every author is fictional, and we all hate ourselves the most. And love ourselves the most. It’s confusing.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
I write horror because I am a disturbed person who clearly had an unpleasant childhood. I assume everyone is drawn to it because they are also terrible misfits who can’t be seen in polite company.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
My favorite part is the money. It’s a pity there’s so little of it.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Please quit. That way there’s less competition for me.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
I live in NYC, so the entire infrastructure of New England that provides me with light, gas, power, and water. That keeps hordes of wild dogs from eating me alive and is of the greatest importance to me.
What question do you wish interviewers would ask you, and what would the answer be?
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
Right now I’m deep into my next novel, another horror novel (sorry, I’m a one-trick pony), coming out in Fall 2019.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
Hobbies? What are those?
What are some of your writing-related hobbies, crafts, addictions?
I once told myself that I could buy any used book I wanted, rather than agonize later over not having bought it. This has resulted in my wife being crushed to death by an avalanche of my used paperbacks. That is called situational irony.
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
I have an office in a very drab building, and I’m located between a driving school and a medical billing processor. It looks like the kind of place where lots of divorced men secretly live under their desks because they can’t afford another apartment and cry themselves to sleep every night. It’s the perfect environment for writing horror.
What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?
That I am incredibly handsome. Photos don’t do me justice.
What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?
That one time I had to find the Lost Grail. It was insane.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
I love silence, but there’s a driving school right next door to my office so there’s not a lot of that around.
Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
They “help” by coating themselves in batter, cooking themselves at high temperatures, and leaping into my mouth.
Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?
What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?
Not writing is the hardest part of writing. I defeat that challenge by writing. It’s a pretty simple process but one I struggle with daily.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?
Never precede your editor into a dark basement. Especially if the door locks from the outside.
Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
Everything they ever didn’t want to know is at www.gradyhendrix.com
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
All my tweeters, Facebookers, and more are right there on my website.
Thank you so much for the great interview, Grady! We are really excited to be able to share We Sold Our Souls with our customers, and look forward to even more from you!