Stephen Graham Jones Quotes

  1. We watch a romantic comedy because we want to cry, say, or an action movie so we can participate in heroics. Horror’s different. It can hit you with a moment of revulsion so hard you might want to erase the last five minutes of your life, please.
  2. Some people are born for Halloween, and some are just counting the days until Christmas.
  3. Neal Stephenson handles exposition better than anybody else. I keep trying to learn his tricks, but every time I duck into his pages, I get lost in the stories all over again and forget that I’m a writer.
  4. With slow-moving zombies, what always comes at stake is our humanity.
  5. Horror, of all the genres, is the only one that can provoke an involuntary visceral reaction.
  6. My uncle Randall always had a book in his hand. He read in the car, he read at restaurants, he read when you were talking to him. He read lots of different things, but mostly it was Louis L’Amour’s westerns and contemporary thrillers.
  7. When I was twelve, Uncle Randall looked up long enough to see that I was a reader as well, so he walked me down his hall to a linen-closet door and opened it up onto a wall of paperbacks. There were books behind books, as deep in as I could reach. He told me to take three, and when I was done, bring them back and take three more.
  8. The slasher film is such a neat, self-contained genre.
  9. Jeans and sneakers are definitely best for the haunted house. They usually won’t let you in with a mask, even. It makes sense. They need to be able to tell who the rubes are. And, sneakers are good because the ground’s uneven, and you’re running and falling and stepping on the slower of your friends.
  10. Joe Lansdale is one of the few writers able to write in whatever genre or mode he wants on any particular day. How? He doesn’t ask permission. He just steps in, out-writes everybody in the room.
  11. For me, the facts in anything are always secondary. You don’t lie convincingly with the truth. You lie convincingly with being a good liar.
  12. If the main character’s not in jeopardy – physical, psychological, emotional, whatever – then you don’t have any tension, and you don’t have a story.
  13. If you keep having to dip into the story’s past to explain the present, then there’s a good chance your real story’s in the past, and you’re just using the present as a vehicle to deliver us there.
  14. You always want to read something that everybody says has gone too far, don’t you? That’s supposed to not just be charting our decline, but embodying it?
  15. You have to want the haunted house to scare you. It completely steals your money to go through with one of those people who shrug it all off, who touch the monsters’ faces to show they’re fake.
  16. With the Romero zombie, you usually did not have a reason for the infection, the plague, the virus, whatever it’s called.
  17. When Ellen Datlow was running the fiction at ‘Omni’ in the late ’80s and into the ’90s, I had a subscription. It was one of two subscriptions I’d saved for, the other being ‘Spider-Man.’ And they each opened my mind and my heart in wonderful ways.
  18. Hannibal Lecter stole Leatherface’s mask and ported the slasher conventions into the thriller for the early ’90s.
  19. There’s no purer feeling in the world than being scared.
  20. In 1984, when ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ came out, not only was I twelve and couldn’t get into an R movie, but I lived twenty miles from a theater. So my first experience of it was on VHS.
  21. People shouldn’t go broke making a haunted house. Or, we should pay for our enjoyment, definitely.
  22. Every time I lock my people in a spacecraft or land them on an asteroid, the blood wells up again, and I’m writing horror. Horror’s my default setting. It’s also where I prefer to write.
  23. You can’t negotiate with a zombie. They have only one impulse – that’s to eat us or our brains.
  24. We tell ourselves zombie stories to remind us we shouldn’t live beyond the natural boundaries of life – or seek a third stage of life in this world.
  25. In 1990, I was an undergraduate freshman archeology major sneaking over to the English building and unearthing an amazing repository of books I’d never even suspected. By 1998, I’d have my Ph.D.
  26. I feel very at home in L.A., I think, because it’s dry, and there’s sun, like the West Texas I grew up in.
  27. The short story, it’s not a step on the way to becoming a novelist.
  28. In the 40 years since ‘The Amityville Horror’, dramatizations of those supposedly-real events have gotten loose enough – special-effects laden enough, star-power re-packaged enough – that the audience no longer trusts the dramatization’s loyalty to the core story.
  29. Most zombie stories, the problems they solve are not the actual zombies. The problems they solve are the human interactions.
  30. Where ‘Paranormal Activity’ really comes into its own is its rhetoric of legitimacy – how it uses itself to authenticate itself, and thus furthers the pretence of being real.
  31. In the fast zombie stories, it’s not our humanity that is at stake anymore. It’s our survival.
  32. The way humor’s usually used in horror, it’s as a pressure-release valve; without it, the drama would escalate out of all control almost immediately.
  33. Vampires have become tragic or romantic figures. Vampire are largely seduction tales. They’re no longer the scary creature in the dark.
  34. I think America would do anything through a drive-through.
  35. I figure anytime you put an adjective before ‘writer,’ it’s a way of dismissing the writer.
  36. Making people laugh is so much more difficult than making them sad. Too much fiction defaults to the somber, the tragic. This is because sad endings are easy in comparison – happy endings aren’t at all simple to earn, especially when writing to an audience jaded by them.
  37. The whole ‘starting with stories, ending with novels’ thing, it’s probably too ingrained in the industry and the psyche to change it.
  38. I would highly, highly recommend seeing ‘Paranormal Activity’ with a friend or, better yet, a group.
  39. You come out of your MFA program with a cogent clutch of stories, trying to get an agent interested, and she or he admits these are quality, sure, but this agent actually needs something the publisher can make money on. So you get kind of bullied by the market into writing a novel.
  40. I see so, so many novels written by people who are obviously short story writers. What they end up doing, it’s going the full distance, covering three hundred pages or so, but they do it by just writing five or six long stories, and weaving them together, making them interdependent.
  41. Stories need stupid decisions that, at the time, seem absolutely rational and necessary. Without stupid decisions, the world isn’t thrown out of balance, and so there’s no need for a ‘rest of the story’ to balance it back.

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