An Interview with Orrin Grey, author of “The Red Church” (GIALLO FANTASTIQUE)

Giallo Fantastique edited by Ross E. Lockhart will ship in May, and I asked if we could do some spotlights on some of the authors and their stories. The authors, and editor Ross E. Lockhart kindly complied. I’ll be posting these throughout April to get the buzz going, so keep an eye out for more this month.

Today, please welcome Orrin Grey to the blog!

gialloWill you tell us a bit about your story in Giallo Fantastique and what inspired you to write it?
I actually started writing “The Red Church” not only before I’d heard about the anthology, but before I’d ever seen more than a couple of giallo films. I was reading books about Mario Bava and Dario Argento at the time, and really looking forward to diving more fully into their filmographies. While I was writing “The Red Church” I saw Suspiria for the first time, and was completely enthralled.

I knew that I wanted my story to capture some of the dreamy logic and pervading menace of a giallo, but because I hadn’t seen very many, a lot of the imagery in the story had to come from other places. I’m a big fan of anatomical drawings and wax anatomical models, and my enthusiasm for those entered pretty heavily into the aesthetics of “The Red Church.”

Have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I have wanted to write certainly for as long as I can remember. My mom had one of those “School Days” books where you put in report cards and class photos and such, and it had a space for you to write in what you wanted to be when you grew up, and from about second grade on all mine ever said was “writer.”

I guess I’m living the dream, because for a little over a year now I’ve been freelancing as a writer full time. In addition to fiction—both original and licensed—I write a lot of content for corporate websites and blogs, which isn’t as much fun as ghost stories, but helps to pay the bills. At the time I originally wrote my story for Giallo Fantastique, though, I was still working at a law firm in downtown Kansas City, nearby where “The Red Church” is set, so I pulled some real Kansas City landmarks and history into the story, though I also fudged the geography a bit.

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?
Good stories come in a lot of different shapes and sizes, but my favorite ones tend to be those that manage to walk a tightrope between having a lot of “on-screen” monsters and weirdness, while still keeping the supernatural aspects of the story somewhat at arm’s length, keeping them a little bit mysterious.

Absolutely my biggest influence is, without a doubt, Mike Mignola. In interviews he always talks about how, when he read Dracula for the first time, he realized that all he ever wanted to do was to write and draw stories about monsters. I had a similar “a ha” moment, but mine came when I read Mignola’s own Hellboy comics. Mignola nails that tightrope act I mentioned above, and many of my other favorite writers and biggest influences were ones that I came to after he mentioned them.

My writing and my imagination is also hugely influenced by movies, especially vintage horror movies. When I was a kid, I devoured those old Crestwood House monster books, these orange and purple board books about monster movies from the 30s through the 50s, complete with tons of black and white stills. I’d never seen any of those films, but I used to page through the books over and over again, staring at those stills, imagining the kinds of stories that might take place in those worlds.

What do you enjoy most about reading, and writing, dark fiction?
I don’t write for my stories to be scary, which is an odd thing for a horror writer to say. But I come to horror and dark fiction because it’s what’s fun for me. I love monsters and atmosphere, old cemeteries and cobweb-strewn manor houses, all that stuff. I read and write dark fiction for the same reason that Boone seeks out Midian in Clive Barker’s Cabal, because it’s where the monsters live.

What’s next for you?
Since I write primarily short stories, I’ve got a lot of them on the docket at any given time, including a story being reprinted in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven, but the biggest thing on the horizon for me is that my second collection is coming out in October from Word Horde. It’s going to be called Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts, and will feature “The Red Church” along with several other stories, including three that are original to the collection, all of them influenced heavily by horror films from various eras.

Keep up with Orrin: Website | Twitter

About Giallo Fantastique:
An anthology of original strange stories at the intersection of crime, terror, and supernatural fiction. Inspired by and drawing from the highly stylized cinematic thrillers of Argento, Bava, and Fulci; American noir and crime fiction; and the grim fantasies of Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, and Jean Ray, Giallo Fantastique seeks to unnerve readers through virtuoso storytelling and startlingly colorful imagery.
What’s your favorite shade of Yellow?

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