Grady Hendrix is a writer and journalist and one of the founders of the New York Asian Film Festival. A former film critic for the New York Sun, Grady has written for Slate, theVillage Voice, Time Out New York, Playboy, and Variety.
The Poetics Project: Describe your book in ten words or less.
Grady Hendrix: Horrorstör is about a haunted Ikea.
TPP: What inspired you to write Horrorstör?
GH: I spent a long time working for a non-profit that studied paranormal phenomena and I was fascinated by the research on haunted houses. They’re a lot more interesting in real life than they are in the movies, and there’s some interesting, although hardly conclusive, research about hauntings being physical phenomena involving architecture and geologic anomalies. I always thought there was room to update the haunted house story, and when I was talking to my editor he threw out the idea of a haunted big box retail store, and we both instantly realized that we had stumbled across fried gold.
TPP: What inspired the format of your book? It is very reminiscent of a certain store’s catalog.
GH: That’s all Quirk. They design books that you want to own, and the idea of making Horrorstör look like an Ikea catalogue was their stroke of genius. I insisted on writing all the copy myself (including the fine print on the order form) partly because I’m a control freak but mostly because I’ve written marketing copy like that before for a living and it was fun to blast it with weird radiation and watch it mutate. Ultimately Horrorstör is a gorgeous object that I think solves the whole eBook vs. physical book problem: want people to buy a physical book? Then design an awesome one.
TPP: Were there any fun moments in creating Horrorstör? Any difficult moments?
GH: The whole thing was a blast. I’ve had real jobs before and compared to those the most difficult moment writing a book is like a sitting on a beach with trained monkeys bringing your mai tais on a silver platter whenever you snap your fingers. And, actually, snapping your fingers is too much work so you have a monkey specifically trained to snap its fingers whenever want. When I hear writers talk about how hard it is to write a book I wonder if they’ve ever changed the oil in a deep fat fryer or sold fake jewelry over the phone or hung sheetrock.
That said, I did get a mental hangnail trying to keep the geography of Orsk straight in my head. Today, I could draw you a map from memory, but trying to memorize every twist and turn of an imaginary location did require some mental effort. So shed a tiny teardrop for the effort that took me.
TPP: What advice can you give aspiring authors? What advice do you wish you would have been given?
GH: I don’t think you can give people advice. They never listen. But I will say, if you want to write books, then start writing books and publishing them yourself. Use your second book to fix the mistakes in your first. Keep working. Be lucky. And don’t expect to get anywhere much before you’re 30.
TPP: Name 2-3 songs that would be on a soundtrack to your book?
GH: SUSPIRIA by Goblin – Italian prog rockers doing the score to Dario Argento’s witchy fairy tale, it sounds like an entire symphony orchestra thrown down a flight of concrete stairs while crazy old women crouch on your shoulder screaming, “Witch!” into your ears. Once you stop flinching, it’s great music to write to.
“if u cAn dR3Am – pRinc3ss3s” by GR†LLGR†LL – the most exciting horror today is in music, specifically witch house, which is basically hipster goth electro. Full of sonic damage, samples, tape hiss, static snarls, and some kind of deep Casio beat over the sound of distant screaming, it’s music that’s designed to get your skin crawling and your eyeballs vibrating with fear.
“De Natura Sonoris No. 1” by Krzysztof Penserecki – want to destroy your soul, one second of sonic insanity at a time? Penserecki’s got you covered. Anything by him is capable of causing your bones to melt from pure anxiety and tension, but “De Natura Sonoris” is the one that really punches me in the fear gland.