Fear, Friendship, and Finding Your Place: Kristen Simmons and Johnny Compton
Tor Presents: Voyage Into Genre S03E06
Tor Books, in partnership with Literary Hub, presents Voyage Into Genre! Every other Wednesday, join host Drew Broussard for conversations with Tor authors discussing their new books, the future, and the future of genre. Oh, and maybe there’ll be some surprises along the way…
Another voyage reaches its conclusion! What a whirlwind this season has been, what a joy! And what a hard time I had ending it!
This episode feels somewhat fitting: it’s two books that deal quite intensely with emotions, with fears, with the struggle of being human in this world. First, Kristen Simmons introduces the first book in her new duology (Find Him Where You Left Him Dead) and talks about writing for teens, the joy of being gross, and creating a mythologically-inspired game for her characters. Then, Johnny Compton chats about his debut (The Spite House), the real architecture behind the awful house in his book, and what he loves most about storytelling. Finally, to wrap things up, no special guest — but a poem by Robert Frost. A little something beautiful to ponder on your way.
See you soon,
Subscribe and download the episode, wherever you get your podcasts!
Read the full episode transcript here.
Kristen Simmons on the Difference Between Eastern and Western Ghosts:
One thing that I thought a lot about prior to writing this was the difference between Eastern and Western ideas of ghosts. Japanese horror is very scary, and one of the things that I think is the absolute scariest about Japanese ghosts, about yokai and all the yokai stories, is that they don’t need a reason to do what they’re doing. They don’t need reason to haunt you. They don’t need a reason to try to kill you. Sometimes they hide in bathrooms and pop out of toilets and, and rip you to pieces just because they want to, just because that’s where they are. And a lot of ideas of Western ghosts have to do with unfinished business or revenge or you didn’t do this in your life so now this has happened to you, right? Like, this cause and effect. That’s a big deal in a lot of Western theology but Eastern, that’s not always the case.
Yes, you have different Japanese ghosts that, maybe haven’t finished what they need to in their life, but oftentimes you just have these very, very scary entities whose only purpose is to search and destroy. All they want to do is kill you because they want to. It may have nothing to do with you, and it may have nothing to do with anything that you’ve done in your life that deserves it or not. They just want to come after you.
And so that was one thing I thought a lot about prior to writing this book, was how to incorporate that level of fear for my characters. To think not only like, this is bad, we left our friend playing this game the first time, now we have to find him. Is it our fault? Is that why this is happening? Are we being punished? But then to also have this feeling of, it doesn’t matter if we’re being punished not. They’re coming after us.
Johnny Compton on Understanding Why People Don’t Leave Haunted Houses:
It’s funny because I used to work in the banking industry, too (and I’ve written a short story that I haven’t had published yet) but like, that basically, I’m aware of like, you know, we’ve all got mortgages, and we’ve got kids, you gotta take into account, like, uh, well, what’s, what, if I do leave, where does that leave my kids, what school district might they be going to, some of these things are scarier than, I mean, it depends on — I, you know, kind of jokingly say this, but not even really, cause I’ve, I’ve known a lot of people who think their houses are haunted, say they’re haunted, I’m not here to tell them one way or the other.
But when they describe certain things, I’m like, I get why you don’t leave, because it’s like, yeah, you know, I get a cold spot here, or I’ll hear knocking in the middle of the night. And it’s like, oh yeah, well you’re not gonna leave your house for that.
I’m not gonna blow up my credit. And have my kids on the street Because, like, you know, like, oh, the pipes are knocking and stuff. Like, hey, if that’s all the ghost is gonna do. And maybe, like, occasionally, open a curtain when nobody else is in the room or something.
If it’s just a bunch of annoyance, like, it’s like you got an annoying roommate at that point. Just leaving is not really that simple until something dangerous starts happening at which point, often times that results in like something like Poltergeist, where it’s like yeah, well now we can’t leave because our daughter is trapped in the Netherrealm.
I always try to remember, I know what genre these people are in, they don’t know. The characters don’t know they’re in a horror story yet.