About the Author: Terry Maggert
Left-handed. I like dragons, coffee, waffles, running, and giraffes; order unimportant. I write the Halfway Witchy, Messenger, Starcaster and Shattered Skies series, as well as contributing to any anthologies.
If I’m not at home, then I’m on the road, and if I’m on the road, I’ll be at a book event. I’ve written thirty-three novels and counting. I don’t sleep, but you probably guessed that already. If you want me to visit your town for an event, let me know when and where. See you out there.
Something In Your Mouth Tour Material
- Why Horror? What’s Evil? Why Is Everyone Naked?
I’m a child of the 1970s, back when psychological horror ruled, only to be replaced with slasher flicks and Jason and Freddy and everything that came next.
So my idea of Evil, as a thing, is as follows—
Evil is absolutely casual. That’s it. It’s casual—it can happen at any time, anywhere, and with a sudden ease that makes everyone in the scene ask themselves if what they’re seeing is, in fact, real.
Evil is- normal things that go bad. Like a snapping turtle. Or the Pope. Or a sink disposal or a child’s toy or any of the other things that we move around without thinking “It might be bad if that was suddenly my enemy.” Evil can be something as innocuous as asking to define a concept—what is caring? What is life?
What is permissible in the name of science? That was always a good one for me. Lots of gray area to be found.
And yet, as a teen in the 1980s, I realized that horror could be funny, too—like Gremlins or the aforementioned Freddy or the hilarity of Ghostbusters and all the accompanying beasties that world put onscreen.
So, with all that in mind, I started writing horror, and it certainly reflects my core belief that you can laugh and think and be uncomfortable all in the span of one story, and then I got the idea for the cover (pretty girl, brutish hand- mine, by the way) and a moment of physical interaction that can be taken in many ways.
Just like my stories.
- The Soundtrack of Horror
There’s a gruesome, brilliant episode of X Files where cannibalistic, inbred brothers stalk and kill a sheriff, and one of the reasons the scene works so well is the music.
It’s cheerful, upbeat bubblegum 1950s music, and it’s so jarring that I have to go back and watch the episode once in a while just to see what genius looks like. I wrote the story Cool to the Touch on a sunny Sunday afternoon—it all started with a simple question, “What if the zombie was really hot?” which is, quite frankly, gross.
I also knew I could not be the first person to ask this question.
So, as I’m typing along, I started thinking about my days of rave music thirty years ago, and the same band—Dead Can Dance—pops into my mind, lost for three decades but now haunting the story I was writing. Then, I listened to a permanent favorite, Sisters of Mercy and in an hour or so, had a rather disquieting story about a young man and a girl and the unfolding of a love story that would only leave one person whole.
The truth is I don’t need music to write, as my dogs and cats and son are always in motion—but for this story, and this collection (and genre), some music seemed to click.
I think the power of memory is something that can bend steel or light or even our concept of time, and adding music to it makes the memory more real. More intense.
I hope you find your own soundtrack for my stories, and I hope you remember them well past the day you finish. Like a storm or a song, a story can leave evidence of its passing, often hiding just below the surface.
So, read the stories, and then—pick a song. See what memory you find all over again.
- How I Found Horror: Or, A History of Being Scared, By Terry
Horror has been with us for as long as we’ve ventured past the edge of the campfire’s light—
It’s a natural state, to be scared, and who we read is often a reflection of our own fears. Our own secrets.
I like old horror, or at least, I did when I truly began to explore the genre. People like HH Munro and William Hope Hodgson scared the pants off me as a kid, and as I got older, I found the eldritch terror of Lovecraft and Poe. They both tapped into truly primal fears—the dark, giant things with fangs, and cloistered spaces—that have never really stopped being scary, to me.
Then, I grew up.
And those things still scared me.
I discovered Jeff Long’s books—let me tell you, you’ll never look at a cave the same way again, not after reading his novel The Descent—and as the 2000s wore on, more horror writers could publish their own material without gatekeepers in the way. In essence, it freed the horror lover to find new, wild frontiers of fiction, all available at their fingertips in ways that me—a guy born in the 1960s—could not have imagined.
One of the things I wrote into each story was contrast. To me, contrast is one of the most critical components of a story. It’s the opposition of things, set in a way so that we never see it coming. If you want to read a superb example of this, look no further than Blackwater by the brilliant Michael McDowell. His monster tale has scenes of ordinary southern life split by events so stunningly horrific—one example being a monster tearing the arms and legs of a ten-year-old boy under the moonlight—that it takes you a few pages to get back to the idea that you’re reading about something happening in Alabama. It is jarring. It is brutal. It is contrast.
I hope you find some of that in my stories, and oddly enough, I hope you laugh, too.
Because laughter is a natural reaction to fear. At least, it is. . .at first.