What a weird and wonderful week. I’m just wrapping up my time in the Windy City (that did get suddenly really, really, really windy and cold and rainy this week) and its been one of the most fascinating experiences I’ve had in a while. Getting to meet some of you Monster people has been the best part of the trip.
Tuesday night the 18th I had a wonderful discussion with Stephen Asma, author of the extraordinary book On Monsters in a public forum at 57th Street Books. What a brilliant gracious guy. Our conversation sort of meandered between zombies, monsters and spirituality and whether evolutionary fears are the best way to make sense of the monster. We had some great audience questions about the future of horror. I really enjoyed this and Stephen and I spoke about the need to take our show on the road at some point (and we both thought that Timothy Beal, author of Religion and Its Monsters, needed to be in on our discussion).
Thursday night I had a very odd and wonderful experience. Covenant Church, Jesus People USA, invited me to take part in a screening and discussion of the 1932 classic film Freaks. Twenty-something horror fans made up the bulk of the audience, most of whom had never seen the film. Our discussion afterwards ranged from the treatment of the Other in American society to religion and the notion of Monsters. I appreciated the wonderful questions and especially appreciated how they overlooked our pretty serious religious differences to have an engaged and engaging dialogue with me. Dave Canfield of Twitch magazine (and a member of the community there at JPUSA) facilitated the event and discussion. Here are a couple great pictures from that evening.
I also taped an interview on Thursday with the regional NPR show “American Variety” that will air by Halloween. Very interesting hour long discussion that really got underneath the hood of the book. I loved it and I think you’ll be interested in it as well.
Friday turned into a really busy day that included taping a short segment on Monsters for WGN TV. This is supposed to air on Halloween and, like all this stuff, we’ll try to post links and/or air times as they become available.
Friday night I was a guest at the “Terror in the Aisles” event at the historic Portage theatre. “Terror in the Aisles” screened some classic horror and raised money for a local Chicago HIV charity (www.vitalbridges.org). Talked to a lot of horror people and had some really fun conversation with them about the book. Sold a few books and got to meet David Naughton, THE American Werewolf in London. I, of course, totally geeked out on him but he was very kind to me, signing pics for myself and friends. Great guy.
Saturday, I signed some books at Horrorbles Horror Collectables…and bought some horror collectables at that wonderful, really darkly magical, place.
All in all, I’ve found that my reflections on the book from the last post are holding true. Books change when they leave an author’s mind. In fact, so many of the issues discussed in the book have become much clearer to me, and some I think about in a different way, now that I’ve been out on the road talking to you. I plan to write a post soon about some of those changes and reevaluations. You are teaching me as much about monsters as I am teaching you, maybe more!
Starting October 25, Monsters in America will be all over Atlanta and the southeast. Please take a look at the event schedule, come out and get a book signed, come out and talk to me about Monsters.
I want to mention that the blog is taking part in the Coffin Hop project between now and Halloween. Check this out as it links up numerous horror bloggers and fiction writers, many of whom are having special Halloween events. You can follow posts on Twitter through this hash tag #CoffinHop.
What I’m reading: Reading Dan Simmons Hyperion for the first time. Many of you sci-fi fans probably envy me! I’m also taking along on the tour Kim Newman’s updated version of his classic Nightmare Movies that somebody sent me a copy of. Can’t wait to get back into Newman’s brilliant analysis. Also doing some research for an essay I’m writing about vampires, religion and moral panics, so I’m bringing along Mary Y. Hallab’s Vampire God: The Allure of the Undead in Western Culture. Hoping to have some time, especially in the mornings, to do some good reading and writing this week. I’m sure being in all these wonderful indie bookstores will provide inspiration!
What I’m Watching: Like the rest of the world, I watched the second episode of the Walking Dead last night. I love how we are getting to see new layers of all the characters and I’m interested in the role religious faith seems to be playing this season. I do think it’s moving grindingly slow but you can’t fault the focus on character. PopMatters sent me the William Shatner project The Captains that I haven’t the chance to watch yet. Hoping to get into it tonight before I leave (Monday)
What I’m listening to: When I’m away from home, I miss Beth and I miss my turntable! The latter I can make up for with some vinyl shopping and in Chicago I made it to Dusty Grooves and Reckless records. I found a pretty decent copy of Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes on vinyl.