You know how, once in a long while, you meet someone, and you have this "Instant Friend!" connection? That's what happened when I met the wonderful Rebecca Kirkland thirteen years ago (how time flies!) at the Gathering of the Fellowship event celebrating Tolkien in Toronto. Later, when she met, fell in love with, and married Dwight L. MacPherson (Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom, The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo, Kid Houdini and the Silver Dollar Misfits, etc.), I discovered that same "Instant Friend!" connection with him. Together, Dwight and Rebecca form one of those incredibly gifted and creative "power couples" who never cease to amaze.
Dwight has just posted a free Halloween comic ("Ghost Virus") on his blog, so go forth and enjoy!
It's my delight to share that Dwight's latest triumph, Hellevator, is set to debut very soon on Comixology. Check out my exclusive Q & A with him below.
Q & A with Hellevator's Dwight L. MacPherson
AHS: What do you find to be frightening? What chills the author who gives his reader chills?
DLM: Besides demogorgons? [laughs] The idea of powerful, malicious, unseen creatures just watching and waiting for the opportune moment to plunge through the thin vale that separates us has always frightened me. You know—the things that you see out of the corner of your eye, sometimes making their presence known in a spine-tingling fashion. I lived in a house that was haunted when I was a child, and I saw a shadow man. I will never forget the terror I felt when it visited my room. I had a rocking horse on springs that would often creek and move in the middle of the night. It was terrifying.
AHS: Is there a specific book or story (or two or three) you would recommend for the Halloween season, because it's given you a lasting scare?
DLM: We read Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Raven" aloud every Halloween season. And, of course, watching The Nightmare Before Christmas is a must. We have a family sing along every year, and it’s something we really look forward to. Some years I will pull out Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. As a child, this timeless classic was one of my favorite stories to read during the Halloween season.
AHS: Tell us about your new project, Hellevator! I've heard it described as "Dante's Inferno for the 21st century," which sounds amazing. What's your reaction to that? What inspired you to undertake this project, and why did you find comics to be the proper medium for your story?
DLM: Hellevator is a story about redemption first and foremost. It’s about two brothers who have attempted to put their horrifying childhood behind them, only to be confronted by the evil they have tried so hard to overcome. I definitely think it’s fair to say I’ve attempted to bring Dante’s Inferno into the 21st century. As you may have guessed by the title, part of the story takes place in Dante’s version of Hell!
As far as inspiration, when I penned the first issue of Hellevator in 2007, I was going through a particularly difficult time being a single father of three young boys (this was before I met the amazing Rebecca Kirkland) and full-time writer and college student. One of the poems we had to read for one of my classes was Dante’s Inferno, so I guess I would have to say that it was a combination of revisiting the poem I’d read many years before and my struggles during that time that inspired me to write the book.
I love comics. I mean — I love comics! And writing comic scripts is like breathing to me at this point in my career. I love the marriage of text and art. I think it’s a powerful and unique medium that doesn’t receive the kind of love and admiration that it should receive—at least not in the United States. In Asia and Europe, comic books are revered and appreciated. Comic creators are treated with the same respect as novelists and poets. Perhaps that is why I am so driven to see my work translated into as many different languages as possible. The European and Asian audience really appreciate this medium for stories in nearly any genre. I believe they would enjoy my stories and find them refreshingly unique.
AHS: What is the main takeaway — message, mood, or both — you'd like readers to leave with after reading your work in general and Hellevator in particular?
DLM: I want to leave readers with a sense of satisfaction. A feeling that they have completed a wonderful, imaginative adventure. I want them to visit new worlds and be filled with wonder and a sense of discovery. The same feeling I experienced when I read classic literature as a child—and still experience when I discover a particularly good novel or comic book.
In Hellevator, I want readers to perhaps examine their own lives, mistakes they’ve made, and maybe strive to become better people. I want them to realize they are not responsible for the choices made by their parents or the people around them. They are only responsible for their own choices and should not carry the guilt that parents or others may have burdened them with.
AHS: What is next for you and your writing?
DLM: So much! [laughs] I have several projects in production right now and I am working on something big with a dear friend in France. I hate to be secretive, but all I can really say is that there are big things on the horizon and I couldn’t be more excited about the future!
Learn more about Dwight L. MacPherson at his blog and on his Twitter feed.