A few months ago, my dear friend Troy H. Gardner asked me to contribute a short story to a horror anthology to be released by Night Terrors. Though horror isn’t my forte, I happily accepted the challenge and penned 6,500 words about an amnesiac and a lake that used to be a granite quarry. The first Night Terrors novel—an ’80s slasher throwback with some deliciously subversive twists titled CAMP CARNAGE—was published last year, and the anthology, titled 13 TALES TO GIVE YOU NIGHT TERRORS, is out now, just in time for Halloween.
To celebrate, here’s an interview with the boys of Night Terrors, Troy himself and Josh Winning.
You two live on different continents and have never met in person. How did you start working together?
Troy: The wonders of Goodreads! We shared some writing and reviews and Josh thought we had a similar enough style that we could compliment each other. I’ll pretty much say “yes and” to anything because I love improv, so I’ll let Josh tell you where the idea came from.
Josh: Yeah, we should probably rectify the fact that we’ve never met. What if we hate each other on sight?! That would be really awkward. Uh, yeah, I basically came across one of Troy’s books and loved it because it reminded me of the POINT HORROR stories I read as a teenager. Which made me wonder why nobody wrote those anymore, and prompted me to suggest Troy and I give it a go. It was a moment of madness that lead to something insanely fun.
Tell me a little bit about your co-writing process. Do you use different narrators or divvy up sections/chapters? And how do you co-edit?
Troy: Depends on the project. If there are different narrators, dividing them between us works best, just like you and I split up narrators in MAD WORLD. For one of our current projects there’s only one narrator, so we initially split it between even and odd chapters, then played to our strengths in rewrites.
Josh: The good thing is, neither of us have any vanity over our writing. We edit the shit out of each other’s stuff and neither of us get offended. In the beginning of a book, we divvy up the characters, write profiles, then we outline the book chapter by chapter. Once the first draft’s completed, we usually go through five more drafts before we send it out to betas. It’s worked so far!
What kinds of horror stories are you drawn to? What elements make for great horror?
Troy: I’m partial to horror stories with a sense of fun.
Josh: I grew up on ’80s horror, so I’m happiest when teens are getting butchered. I love horror that tries to say something, too, though. Watching The Exorcist in my thirties was so much scarier because it’s about a parent’s fear of being totally helpless when their child’s preyed upon.
Troy: And what’s more fun than slasher flicks?
All time favorite horror flick. Go.
Troy: I was going to cop out and give you a list but I’m feeling brave. Since I wrote a book on it, I’m going to go with Sleepaway Camp.
Josh: Scream is my go-to horror any day of the week, but I could write a list of favorites that’d break the internet if you’d let me.
Troy: Oh yeah, I nearly forgot – I’m a huge sucker for anthology movies, which are finally making a comeback. Tales from the Crypt, The House That Dripped Blood, After Midnight, Tales From the Darkside. These anthologies gave me the idea for 13 TALES in the first place. Seems like since Trick ‘R Treat came out we’ve been treated to new anthologies like ABCs of Death, V/H/S, and there’s a slew more coming our way.
As you know, I’m a big music fan. How crucial is the soundtrack of a horror film? Do you have a few favorites?
Troy: It’s super crucial and I don’t think modern horror filmmakers pay nearly as much attention to their scores as they need to. Psycho, Jaws, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Goblin’s Suspiria theme, The Exorcist, even Scream with “Red Right Hand,” have these powerful auditory experiences that enhance the films. I can’t think of any recent soundtracks that hold up. None. Probably partially in thanks to the found footage craze.
Josh: Music is so important for mood in a horror film and Troy’s absolutely right, a lot of horror soundtracks are really lazy. Recent soundtracks I love are It Follows (terrifying and beautiful at the same time), and although The Guest isn’t strictly horror, it has an awesome ’80s soundtrack. Scream has a brilliantly wonky score, too – I love that it incorporates doorbells and cellphones into the music.
Tell me a little bit about the process of publishing 13 TALES TO GIVE YOU NIGHT TERRORS. How did you find all these fabulous writers to contribute?
Troy: You mean how did I strong arm you into it? Persistence. I just asked around, and had you ask around for me. That sure helped. It’s felt like publishing boot camp to me. A lot of fun, a lot of stress, and some great experience.
Josh: That was all Troy’s idea, and once we knocked our heads together, we realized we had quite a few author buddies who would contribute stories if we could dig up enough dirt on them.
What’s up next for Team Night Terrors?
Josh: The next book will be ELECTRIC SCREAMS, which is different again to CAMP CARNAGE and 13 TALES. It’s about computer hackers who end up hacked to pieces by a psycho killer. CAMP CARNAGE was an ’80s throwback, and ELECTRIC SCREAMS feels very up-to-the-minute as it’s all about how technology is slowly killing us.
If you’re feeling brave, you can buy 13 TALES on Amazon, or download it for free on Smashwords. And if you manage to survive, don’t forget to review the book on Goodreads. You can also follow Team Night Terrors on Twitter @NightTerrorsYA.