Our next author will be a familiar name to our readers; C. Patrick Neagle’s work can be found in our prior publications Coppice and Brake and Midnight Bites: Mother Krampus. He returns for his Crone Girls Press hat trick with the cosmically horrific “Lamps Like Masks.” Read on to learn more…
Q: What inspired your story in this anthology? Tell us the “story behind the story.”
A (C. Patrick Neagle): During a Zoom author meet during the first year of Pandemic, someone (possibly me, but I don’t remember) mentioned that lighthouses would make a good horror theme. Lighthouses are excellent settings for horror (see Cold Skin, The Lighthouse, and Day of the Triffids), but I decided I wanted to write something where the lighthouse WAS the horror. Perhaps I succeeded.
Q: Why do you write horror? What about the genre appeals to you as an author?
A: The question of why do I write horror … why do I LIKE horror … is one that I ask myself often. I’ve given differing answers in the past: that horror allows us to put a ‘face’ to evils in a world where much of the ‘evil’ is amorphous and unassailable; that horror allows us to explore how ordinary people react and behave toward themselves and toward one another when they are faced with something beyond any ‘ordinary’ experience; that I like a good jump scare as much as the next person. But, while listening to the brilliant Evolution of Horror podcast and thinking about my first horror experiences, I think that the reason it appeals goes back to some of those first horror movies and shorts I saw on TV, way back when I was a kid: Gargoyles (the 1972 movie, not the cartoon series), Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, and a slew of others, as well as the nigh-on innumerable Stephen King books I read growing up. These, I think, instilled in me early an aesthetic that I wanted to tap into, to recreate and repurpose to tell my own stories … and to scare my readers the way that I had been scared.
Q: There are a number of different flavors of horror. Where does your story fit, and what drew you to this particular category?
A: Lamps Like Masks draws its inspiration from found footage paranormal investigation tv shows and movies, as well as Something Askew in the Ordinary World vibes. If I had to assign a horror flavor, I’d say it is … vanilla-banana swirl with strawberry and chocolate at the center.
Q: What does it mean to read and write horror during a pandemic? How has it changed (or not!) your approach to the genre as a writer or as a fan?
A: Ah, for the first year of Pandemica, I didn’t read or write much, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t creating. The isolation allowed me to work on our horror-and-humor podcast, The Gothic Podcast (now finishing up its second season!), and to turn my attention to more online gaming, where my stories took on more of a horrific bent as my players and I delved into the worlds of Monster of the Week, Dead of Night, and Ten Candles (“a roleplaying game of tragic horror”). But WHY did I turn my sights more fully on the horrific during a time when events in the ‘real’ world were equally horrifying? Probably because, I believe, horror fiction (and games) gives us a way to deal with real horrors — horrors that can often seem unmanageable, un-understandable, and unconquerable. In horror, even if the protagonists don’t make it, well, at least they had a chance, not like so often in the world at large, when we can be struck down seemingly at random and without prelude or opportunity for anyone to know our last thoughts.
Q: What’s next in your writing journey?
A: I’ve contemplated moving outward from the short story format and into novel-length horror fiction, but the short story allows for levels of gut-punch that I’m not sure I can translate to the longer form. We shall see. In the meantime, for long-form horror, we are about to start on season three of our horror-and-humor podcast, The Gothic Podcast, continuing to tell our five-year story one season arc at a time.
About the Author
Once upon a time there was a writer named C. Patrick, who lived in the haunted, fog-shrouded hills of Missouri. But he heard a siren’s call crying out to him—a song that led him to the cloud-draped mountains of the Pacific Northwest, where now he writes stories of places even stranger than these, and, alongside a brilliant cast, sings his own song of horror (softened, perhaps, with a bit of humor) into the aether on The Gothic Podcast.
Follow Patrick online on Facebook and Twitter, and check out his website. Learn more about The Gothic Podcast and give it a follow on Twitter!
Check out “Lamps Like Masks” in Stories We Tell After Midnight 3,” and leave us a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Thank you for reading!