Continuing my series of Q&As with authors that contributed to THE NEW BLACK anthology is a chat with Paul G. Tremblay, author of “It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks.” Please give him a warm welcome!
Will you tell us a bit about your story in The New Black and what inspired you to write it?
“It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks” features a young family in the midst of their one-week vacation on a New Hampshire lake. The story is told from the POV of a five-year-old as some unseen apocalyptic catastrophe disintegrates the world around them. Fun in the sun!
One of my very own summer vacations served as the inspiration with a simple what-if question: what if the world ended while my family and I were vacationing on a beautiful lake. Yes, I think happy thoughts like this all the time.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I wanted to be Larry Bird or Spider-man when I was a kid. Neither worked out.
I didn’t mess around with writing until my early-to-mid 20’s. I was a mathematics major in college and earned my Master’s Degree at the University of Vermont in math. Yeah, math. In my spare time at UVM, I was reading horror novels and trying to learn Husker Du tunes on my guitar. Post-grad school I fooled around with trying to write songs and short stories. I quickly found out I was a better writer than a musician. I still want to rock, though.
What do you like to see in a good story, and what authors or novels have influenced you the most in your work, and your life?
Style. Purpose. Give me something that’ll piss me off. Make me sad or laugh or both. Scare me. Move me. Characters that I want to understand and not like. Real consequences where no one will ever be the same, including me the reader. And cool monsters.
Joyce Carol Oates was the first writer who made me think, “I didn’t know there were stories like this.” Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Clive Barker turned me into a reader. Kurt Vonnegut made want to write about anything and everything. Other favorite authors include Megan Abbott, Stewart O’Nan, Jim Shepard, Shirley Jackson, John Langan, Laird Barron, Aimee Bender, Jim Shepard, Victor LaValle, and so many more.
What do you enjoy most about reading, and writing, dark fiction?
Like most I enjoy reading fiction for entertainment and escape. Dark fiction seems to me to be the most honest, when done well. Doesn’t mean it can’t be fun too. Sara Levine’s Treasure Island!!! is hilarious and dark as hell, so too are the stories/novels of Sam Lipsyte. I enjoy stories where the borders of safety, of what is or isn’t transgressive and horrific, are stretched and broken. Stories that ask how does anyone live through this? Those are the stories I try to write.
What’s next for you?
I have some short stories in a handful of anthologies coming in the next year. In the fall, Chizine Publications will release a YA novel I co-wrote with Stephen Graham Jones, under the name P. T. Jones (got all that?) called Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly. Then in May 2015 my big-fat-exorcism novel A Head Full of Ghosts will be published by William Morrow.
Paul G. TremblayPaul Tremblay is the author of the novels The Little Sleep, No Sleep Till Wonderland, and Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye, and the short story collections Compositions for the Young and Old and In the Mean Time. He has published two novellas, and his essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Five Chapters.com, and Best American Fantasy 3. He is the co-editor of four anthologies including Creatures: Thirty Years of Monster Stories (with John Langan).
Paul is the president of the board of directors for the Shirley Jackson Awards. He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts, has a master’s degree in Mathematics, has no uvula, and he is represented by Stephen Barbara of Foundry Literary + Media.