Today’s guest is Rick Hautala, acclaimed author of more than two dozen novels, including Moondeath, Little Brothers, Winter Wake, The Mountain King, The Wildman, Throat Culture and Last Breath (with Christopher Golden), and, under the pen-name A.J. Matthews, The White Room, Follow, Looking Glass, and Unbroken. His collections Bedbugs and Occasional Demons are among my favorites, and perfect choices for Halloween reading.
Here, Rick catches us up on what’s going on in HautalaLand for the season…
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“‘Tis the Season”
Kealan was kind enough to invite me to post a little something on his blog this Halloween season, but I am stymied. I have my own horribly out-of-date blog on my website. It’s so out-of-date partly because, having been raised in a Finnish/American home, I was taught not to trumpet my own achievements. It was considered unseemly.
So I guess it isn’t right for me to use Kealan’s blog to mention that I recently sold Star Road, a science fiction novel written with Matt Costello, to Macmillan Books; or that Cemetery Dance Publications recently contracted to publish my novels Chills and Waiting along with a new “Little Brothers” novella titled Indian Summer; or that I sold the reprint rights to my older novels Little Brothers to Paladin Publishers in Serbia and Moondeath to Evil Jester Press.
I could mention all of those, but I won’t.
I’ll save that news for my own blog.
So what to write about here?
Well, since it’s the Halloween season, perhaps I should write a little something that’s all spooky and creepy and nostalgic … something appropriately Bradbury-esque.
Then again, I’ve already done that—and will, no doubt, do it again—in both fiction and non-fiction. In fact, I’m currently working on a novella titled “The Big Tree” that takes place during September and has an eleven year old protagonist. I love this time of year as the seasons begin to turn, at least here in New England.
No, I need a fresh idea for this piece. Writers aren’t satisfied unless they keep coming up with fresh ideas so they feel as though they’re vibrant and alive. Otherwise, writing can descend into recycling old thoughts and plots, tired characters and themes to the point of self-parody.
I don’t ever want to do that.
I could mention Kealan’s story “Peekers” and the film adaptation of that story which Mark Steensland and I made a few years ago. I’ve had a handful of films produced from scripts I’ve written, original and adaptations, but writing and developing “Peekers” with Mark and Kealan was one of the most pleasurable projects I’ve ever worked on. (So far! <g>) The success of that collaboration has been proven—“The marketplace has spoken,” as Stephen Colbert says—because the short film has won five awards in various national and international film competitions. If you haven’t seen “Peekers” yet, check it out. It’s available—for free—on the Internet.
To be honest, though, that film was done a few years ago. Although my memories of the project are wonderful, they’re fading as fast as my memory of what I had for breakfast today … (Wait a second. I haven’t had breakfast yet. I got out of bed this morning and headed straight to the computer to write this blog entry before I eat.) I can remember that Mark and I had fun, playing with (some might say “adapting”; others would say “distorting” and maybe even “ruining”) Kealan’s marvelous story.
But screw the awards.
The ultimate satisfaction is that Kealan and Mark and I are happy with the film even though we did change a few things from his original story.
Kealan was so happy with “Peekers,” in fact, that he sold Mark and me the rights to adapt another one of his stories. This is a longer story titled “Underneath,” and we now have a script that’s met everyone’s approval, and we’re trying to get things lined up so we can film it. The process, as everyone may know or be able to guess, is not easy, no matter the size and scale of a film.
If you haven’t read Kealan’s story “Underneath” yet, I recommend you do so immediately. It is, as we say in Maine, “a corker.” I assure you that you are in for a treat.
Funny how the use of that word “treat” has brought my mind back around to the idea of Halloween because that’s something I’ve noticed about Kealan’s stories. Even though they aren’t strictly about Halloween and are not set during Halloween, many of his stories retain a pervading sense of that season. His stories—even when quite “contemporary”—seem to me to be infused with that same nostalgic glow that we find in the best of Ray Bradbury and Stephen King. (Kealan sez: “Stealing that quote, Rick!”)
Is it Halloween magic?
There is a distinct magic to the season, and Kealan and I aren’t the only writers who are mining that particular vein of precious metals. That’s one reason I hope Mark and I can pull the necessary strings together so we can finish filming “Underneath.”
Maybe this time next year as Halloween approaches … as the days get shorter and there’s a chill in the air and tiny figures ion costumes dart up and down the street … maybe we’ll have a new film for you, and you can get some genuine Halloween chills.
Until then, I want to thank Kealan for inviting me to participate in his blog, and I want to wish all of you a very Happy Halloween!
October 12, 2011