Your short story Let It Snow is in the Ho Ho Horror anthology. What can readers look forward to in Let It Snow?
Jake Wellman is on an idyllic Christmas holiday: a secluded resort in the middle of a beautiful pine forest. Jake strikes up an unlikely acquaintance with the overly-friendly owner, Duncan Mackay. But after they share a dark secret, Jake realises there is something not quite right. Suddenly Jake finds himself alone in his cabin, his wife and family are gone. And then he finds the blood. Let It Snow is a psychological thriller that tells the story of Jake Wellman, a father desperately trying to find his family to save them and uncover the truth. But sometimes the truth is best left hidden.
Let It Snow and the other stories in Ho Ho Horror are Christmas horror stories. Have you read many Christmas horror stories before, or do you think writing Let It Snow will entice you to read more Christmas horror stories in the future?
I have read a couple of Christmas horror stories before, and usually enjoyed them. It’s a fascinating mix: Christmas (a time meant for cheer, happiness, and love) mixed with horror (fear, loss, and that warm feeling that is briefly comforting before you realise that you’ve actually just wet yourself in sheer terror). A collision of totally different concepts. I’m really looking forward to reading the other stories in Ho Ho Horror.
The setting of Let It Snow is secluded holiday cabins in the forest. To what extent did you draw inspiration from other horror stories, such as Stephen King’s The Shining, for Let It Snow?
I think seclusion is one of the most important aspects of horror (whether that be physical, emotional, or even psychological seclusion). Seclusion allows things to happen that couldn’t normally happen, and it brings that sense of hopelessness. Stephen King did it brilliantly with The Shining, and his earlier work, Misery, and Agatha Christie did it very well in And Then There Were None. All of these stories created a believable and hopeless seclusion, and I hope Let It Snow brings a similar feeling of being totally and utterly helpless.
What kinds of fiction do you most enjoy reading, and what are some of your recent favourite reads?
I love good horror, from King to Koontz to Laymon. But I enjoy anything that feels fresh and keeps me guessing. I’m a big fan of legal thrillers, such as Grisham and Grippando. I really enjoy action thrillers, such as Lee Child, Gregg Hurwitz, David Baldacci. I recently picked up an old Joseph Finder book, High Crimes, which was a great read, and just about to finish Vince Flynn’s, The Third Option.
What is it that draws you to writing suspense/thriller/horror fiction, as opposed to other kinds of fiction?
I find there is a lot of truth in horror–not on the fictional surface, but deep down where the vein of reality runs. A stark snapshot of what we are, and what we can be, as humans. Writing horror is like doing a live autopsy on the human psyche. Horror also throws away a lot of the “rules” that govern day to day life. With horror, anything can (and probably will) happen. It keeps you guessing.
Who is one of your favourite fictional characters from a novel you have read recently, and what makes that character work so well for you as a reader?
I’ve just started reading a novella by Dean Koontz, The Moonlit Mind. The main character is a little boy, 12 years old, alone in a city where adults kill, and ghosts walk. I’m only about 10 or so pages into it, but already the little boy and his side-kick companion, the golden retriever mix, have already grown on me. When “weak” characters show commendable strength, we can’t help but admire, and even like, them.
If you could bring one storyteller back from the dead for a day for the sole purpose of talking to them about writing fiction, who would it be and why?
Michael Crichton. When Crichton left us, it was one of the saddest days in fiction, in my opinion. He had a style no one else has matched, and I believe he had a LOT more to offer. I love his ability to not only entertain and make you think, but also to make you imagine, and to make you ask, “What if?”
What is next for your fiction writing?
Next will be my full length novel. This is a story that has stuck with me, in essence, ever since I rediscovered my love for writing about eight or nine years ago, and demanded to be written ever since. It’s a thriller that asks the question, “How far would you go to protect your family?”
More on Sam Stephen and his fiction can be found at www.samstephens.com. You can read prvious interviews with Sam Stephens on The Australian Literature Review at https://auslit.net/2010/09/22/sam-stephens-author-interview and https://auslit.net/2011/04/28/sam-stephens-author-interview-2, and on Authors Compare at http://www.authorscompare.net/2011/09/sam-stephens-author-interview-short.html.
Between now and Christmas, search ‘let it snow’ on Google (or click http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=let+it+snow&btnK) then wait for a little surprise. 🙂
The Australian Literature Review