This past November, Richard Chizmar’s Gwendy’s Magic Feather (read our review here) was released, the sequel to Gwendy’s Button Box, which was co-authored by Stephen King. We were absolutely thrilled to find out that we were able to interview the author of that book and ask him about the new novel, his work with the master of horror, his writing process, and his future projects.
PopHorror: How did the partnership come about working with Stephen King?
Richard Chizmar: Steve and I have been friends for a long time and have done a lot of business in the book world, but I never dreamed I would one day write something with him. We were emailing one day about round-robin books and collaborations. That general discussion led to Steve telling me about a story he had started but had been unable to finish. The next day, Gwendy’s Button Box showed up in my Inbox along with a note reading, “Do what you wish with it.” And that’s how it happened.
PopHorror: How was it like working with Stephen King?
Richard Chizmar: Amazing… terrifying… beyond a dream come true! When I first sat down to scribble some story notes longhand, I realize my hand was shaking so badly I could barely write. That’s when it hit me: I was collaborating with my literary hero and the bestselling author of all time. But when I opened my laptop a short time later and started to write, all that anxiety disappeared. Before I knew it, I was lost in the story and walking alongside Gwendy Peterson in Castle Rock.
PopHorror: Why did you bring back Gwendy as a US State Senator?
Richard Chizmar: I went to bed one night after catching a news story about the diverse, new members of Congress, and then my subconscious went to work. I woke up the next morning with a very clear picture in my mind of what Gwendy had been doing with her life for the past fifteen years. I dropped Steve an email – not pitching the story at all, just sharing my thoughts – and the next thing I knew, I was writing the book.
PopHorror: How has Castle Rock changed since the first novella?
Richard Chizmar: Well, the town went through a lot in that time period, the most significant events taking place at the end of the novel Needful Things. Castle Rock was pretty much reduced to a pile of ash after The Big Fire, as locals refer to it. But that wasn’t the end of it. The residents regrouped and rebuilt. And Gwendy’s Magic Feather takes place a few years down the road.
PopHorror: What draws you to write horror?
Richard Chizmar: I’ve just always been interested in what lurks in the shadows and behind closed doors. I’m a pretty optimistic, happy guy, but when it comes to my own work and choice of entertainment – film and literature – I’m much more fascinated by the masks everyday people wear in public, and the dark secrets that exist in many of their lives.
PopHorror: What are some of the inspirations for your stories?
Richard Chizmar: I find inspiration everywhere around me. The single mom talking on a cell phone with tears streaming down her cheeks and a dirty-faced toddler tugging on her pants. The elderly man carrying a paper bag standing at the curb waiting to cross the street. A slammed door and a muffled cry in a hushed suburban neighborhood. It all feeds my imagination.
PopHorror: Would you ever like to see Gwendy’s story adapted into either a film or television series?
Richard Chizmar: I’d love that. Gwendy’s Button Box was optioned by a top production company, and a screenwriter was recently attached to adapt the book. Steve and I should be seeing a draft sometime soon. We’re very excited to read it.
PopHorror: Do you prefer collaborations or working solo?
Richard Chizmar: Totally depends on the project. The majority of my fiction has been solo, so I guess that’s my preference. But collaborating with the writers I’ve worked with has been great fun without exception. It’s fascinating to sit back and watch other writers make choices with characters and plots that I’m so closely involved with.
PopHorror: Congratulations on the Halloweenpalooza Award for Best Horror Short for Trapped! How much were you involved in the creation of the horror short?
Richard Chizmar: Stephen King and I are both big fans of short films. We had talked for a while about writing one together, so we eventually traded a bunch of emails and co-wrote a detailed outline for Trapped. I took a couple days and wrote the script, then handed it over to my son, Billy, and he ran with the project. He did an amazing job directing, and the film is currently being shown at a slew of film festivals around the world. We hope to, one day, make it available online.
PopHorror: Do you have any new writings in the works that you can share?
Richard Chizmar: I’m currently working on a new novel and looking for free time to knock out several new short stories. Planning to write another script or two next in the new year, as well as finally sit down with my son, Billy, to write the sequel to Widow’s Point.
PopHorror: Which fictional character would you not want to go on a road trip, and why?
Richard Chizmar: Annie Wilkes… for obvious reasons!
We would like to thank Richard Chizmar for the opportunity to speak with him. Gwendy’s Magic Feather is out at all major booksellers, Amazon, and Cemetery Dance Publications. For further news on Richard’s projects, check out his Website, Twitter, and Facebook.