Stephen Graham Jones on the Archetypes of a Slasher Narrative
In Conversation with Maris Kreizman on The Maris Review Podcast
On the possibilities of the slasher:
SGJ: A lot of people claim not to be invested in the slasher because they feel like they know the formula. People feel like it’s got genre fatigue. I don’t think it does. I think the tighter the constrictions, the better you have to dance to make it a good story.
On childhood in slashers:
MK: One of the main rules of slashers is that they seem to give children agency. Kids are to be trusted, and they are the ones in control.
SGJ: In the 80s, which was the golden age of the slasher, you kind of knew that if someone at the park was picking on you, it was up to you to deal with it. I’m not saying fight them; it might be get away from them or it might be go get help, but it wasn’t about I’m gonna call the police or I’m gonna call my parents. That wasn’t the first option. Your parents were at work and you didn’t have a cellphone. So you were on your own. I think that the slashers of the time modeled good behavior for how to push back against bullies. They still do, really. But you learn really quickly in a slasher that your parents and the police are no help at all because nobody believes that this is really happening. Nobody believes that you’re being stalked. Which is kind of good, because if the police believed these kids’ crazy theories about Freddy Krueger, then the story is over. We want the stories to keep going.
On using the term Indian:
MK: Jade refers to herself as Indian. Tell me about that.
SGJ: I wonder if that’s Jade or it’s me, because I grew up Indian, so it’s hard for me to be Native or Indigenous or the various terms we throw around. I think that the only real model Jade has is her dad. And her dad is of the same generation as I am; he grew up far from the reservation, and I suspect he would use the same terminology I would use, and then Jade wouldn’t know anything different. So she would use Indian. I don’t think Indian is a broken term necessarily. People always say that it’s inaccurate, that this is not India like Christopher Columbus scraped up onto. Jade is not really worried about political correctness either, so even if she had been chided into using more neutral terms, she would probably still land on Indian.
Stephen Graham Jones is the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians. He has been an NEA fellowship recipient and been recipient of several awards, including the Ray Bradbury Award from the Los Angeles Times, the Bram Stoker Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award. His latest novel is called My Heart Is a Chainsaw.