Fall is in the air, and we’re celebrating by hosting a Halloween Thrills and Chills event! Some of our favorite blog friends will present fantastic guest posts and interviews by three Disney Hyperion authors with books releasing this year, including Mary: The Summoning‘s Hillary Monahan, Welcome to the Dark House‘s Laurie Faria Stolarz, and The Whispering Skull‘s Jonathan Stroud. Check out the full tour schedule below, and be sure to enter the giveaway at the very end for a box of horror books that will be delivered to you in time for Halloween reading!
We’re kicking off the event tour with Jonathan Stroud, author of the The Bartimaeus Sequence and many other novels. His second book in his Lockwood and Co. series just came out, and if you like the idea of coolly competent young British ghosthunters with a Sherlock-type vibe, you’ll certainly enjoy this series. I love how the books feel both modern and classic, how the narrative is both elegant and humorous, and how genuinely shivery some of the scenes are. This is writing that trusts the intelligence of its audience, so it’s a series that comfortably appeals to middle grade, young adult, and adult readers alike.
Jonathan’s posts for this tour event are also some of the ones I’ve enjoyed reading most out of all the submissions I’ve received over the years. I think we appreciate many of the same things about mysteries and thrillers, and after seeing some of my favorite horror films on his list, I went right out and purchased/watched several of his other suggestions! The films and his books have put me in a deliciously Halloweeny mood, and if you appreciate horror that is more finely crafted, you’ll certainly feel the same way.
We peppered Jonathan with a few questions so that you can get a feel for his books and his personality. Enjoy!
5 Questions with Jonathan Stroud (Okay, 6)
1. You write thrilling, chilling stories, so we want to pick your brains. (Not literally.) What are some of your favorite horror books?
I’ve got a shelf of great ghost and horror fiction close by my desk to give me inspiration while I work on Lockwood & Co. Among other eerie delights, it contains: The Great God Pan, by Arthur Machen, In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu, the Complete Ghost Stories of M R James, and Tales of the Uncanny and Supernatural by Algernon Blackwood. These all stem from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries (the Golden Age of weird tales); to bring things colorfully up to date, why not throw in some volumes of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy? Beautiful art and great writing too.
2. Do you believe in the supernatural? Tell us about the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you.
I’m lamentably dull when it comes to personal supernatural experiences, I’m afraid, though the idea of them does scare me. Some odd things have happened to members of my family, though. My grandfather was a sailor; when he was young and away at sea, his mother was sitting at home one day when she suddenly sat bolt upright in shock and terror, convinced that he was in mortal peril. Nothing could be done, but she would not be comforted. Soon afterwards a telegram arrived, from half a world away, to say that he’d been helping unload a ship when he’d been injured – narrowly avoiding death – when a crate slipped from its ties and fell on him. A psychic connection of some kind between mother and child? I think quite probably so.
3. Say you’re locked in a haunted house and have to barricade yourself in a room with other wily survivors. Choose one person in each of the following categories to be in that room with you, and tell us why you chose them!
a. one character from one of your books
Anthony Lockwood, because he deals with such things every night of the week. He’d be cool, calm and collected, and have a nice sharp iron rapier to deal with nearby ghouls.
b. one living author
Rick Riordan would have an encyclopedic knowledge of folklore and legend, and be able to suggest ways of warding off evil spirits. Plus I bet he’d be a dab hand at throwing a salt-bomb.
c. one dead person
Sir Richard Burton, fearless Victorian explorer, swordsman and polymath, would be a fine companion in any tight corner. He could speak 30 languages, so would be able to communicate with most varieties of the returning dead.
d. one relative, colleague, or friend
My grandfather, Captain Ralph Stephenson, was 6 foot 4 inches tall, of commanding presence, and very used to telling boat-loads of hairy sailors what to do. He’d look the ghosts right in the eyes, bark some orders, and put the fear of god into them.
4. Show us a couple of spooky places that inspired the setting in your story.
Many of Lockwood & Co.’s adventures take place in the streets of Central London. Even in the busiest areas, there are countless quiet little streets and back alleys which seem fine by day… But at night, when the light begins to fade, you can imagine supernatural presences stirring there… This is a street in the Marylebone district, near where Lockwood has his house. The ghost-lamps are just coming on…
England is full of old ruins and historic spots where you can feel time’s weight pulling at you. I like to visit them to taste the atmosphere. This is Berkhamsted Castle near me. Yes, it’s nice and pretty on a sunny summer’s day – but who knows what horrors took place in the dungeons here? By night these crumbling walls will have a very different feel…
5. What’s the best part about writing horror for teenagers/children? The most challenging?
The word ‘horror’ covers a multitude of different styles and approaches. Personally I’ve never been too keen on either books or movies that are overtly unpleasant. Subtler stuff – involving balancing suspense and atmosphere with out-and-out shocks – is much more effective, and stays with you for longer. I think it’s also harder to do. When you’re writing for a younger audience you need to keep things exciting, and definitely include a good quantity of horrid scares – but you also can’t go over the top with the nastiness. Getting the balance right is a challenge – but it also helps steer the writer towards creating something in which character, plot and atmosphere work together to build up and maintain suspense. I find this exhilarating. You end up more in Hitchcock territory than in Poe’s.
Bonus Question (because we’re nosy): What are you working on next? Are there more scary things in store for your readers?
There certainly are! I’m hard at work on the third Lockwood book right now, and just pondering what horrid surprises might be concealed within… Tune in this time next year to discover the result!
Our thanks to Jonathan for being such a gracious guest!
Check out the rest of the tour for more interviews,quizzes, and other fun shenanigans! You may also earn additional points for the giveaway by visiting each blog stop.
Thrills and Chills: Halloween Event Tour with Jonathan Stroud, Hillary Monahan, and Laurie Stolarz
Wednesday, October 1 The Midnight Garden 5 Questions with Jonathan Stroud
Thursday, October 2 The Starry-Eyed Revue Into the Spooky Swamp Setting of Mary: The Summoning
Friday, October 3 Supernatural Snark Rules for Surviving a House of Horrors (with Laurie Stolarz)
Monday, October 6 Xpresso Reads Deleted Scene from Mary: The Summoning
Tuesday, October 7 Love is Not a Triangle 5 Questions with Laurie Stolarz
Wednesday, October 8 For the Love of Words 10 Great Horror Films with Jonathan Stroud
Thursday, October 9 Winterhaven Books How I Became a Horror Fan (with Hillary Monahan)
Friday, October 10 YA Romantics Quiz: What Dark House Character Are You?
Monday, October 13 My Friends Are Fiction Fashion Accessories for Ghosthunters (with Jonathan Stroud)
Tuesday, October 14 The Flyleaf Review 5 Questions with Hillary Monahan
Wednesday, October 15 Books with Bite Top 10 Items to Survive The Dark House Amusement Park
Thursday, October 16 The Social Potato A Tour of Jonathan Stroud’s Writing Space
My thanks to the wonderful bloggers and authors participating in this tour!
Thanks to our friends at Disney Hyperion, we have a box of YA horror to give away! This set of four books includes recent shivery releases from the authors featured in this event:
Isn’t that an awesome line-up of books? This box will be delivered in time for spooky Halloween reading. Um, sorry, the skull and candle are not included.
All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a thoughtful comment below about Jonathan’s interview. Open to US residents aged 18 and older, or 13 and older with parental permission. See entry form for complete details. Good luck!
Photographs were provided by the author. (Though the Halloween-ing of the author photo is by me!) Review and and giveaway copies were provided by the publisher. Be sure to check out The Screaming Staircase and The Whispering Skull, both available in stores and online everywhere books are sold.