Paul Kane Interview
In addition to my review of Snow author Paul Kane was kind enough to answer some questions that I had concerning the book. Check it out!
1. What is your favorite Brothers Grimm fairytale?
I love them all really, but particular favourites include the obvious ones like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White – clearly, given the fairytales that I’ve tackled so far and my latest book. But if I had to narrow it down to one, then I’d go for Red Riding Hood, simply because it was the first long form modern horror reworking of a fairytale I did with RED in 2008 – although I’d done a short story version of Goldilocks three years before that in Signs of Life. I just love the whole concept of the wolf stalking Red through the woods, then being in disguise when she arrives at Grandmother’s house; that in particular has always fascinated me, because it reminded me massively of stories like John W. Campbell’s ‘Who Goes There?’ – basically The Thing. That was a large part of why I decided to take that on, to play with the notions of a predator who could turn themselves into anyone: it could be your best friend, your wife or husband, or even one of your children. To me, that’s pretty scary – you could be sitting next to someone you love on the sofa, then suddenly they turn into one of these creatures and bite your face off. There was also the chance to tie this into a variant of the werewolf mythology, which I leapt at. I was delighted when Paul Fry at SST was willing to reprint the original last year, which had become very rare in the meantime, and also take a chance on the next chapter with Blood RED (https://www.sstpublications.co.uk/Blood-Red.php). That allowed me to explore the mythology even further, plus connect it back to my ‘Life Cycle’ werewolf tales and The Gemini Factor in Curse of the Wolf (http://tinyurl.com/hbsh4kk).
2. Why do you think these stories stay with us even when we grow up?
First of all, the stories are simultaneously simple and complex, so they work on one level when you’re a kid and then you see more and more things when you revisit them as an adult. I think also maybe because of the moral aspects to them; they’re all about doing the right thing and the devastating consequences if you don’t. Finally, they’re chock full of such weird creatures and characters. The dwarves are incredibly memorable, for example, they stay with you – and if you have a twisted mind like me you might turn them into cannibalistic albino cave-dwellers.
3. I found the wicked stepmother Ruth to be the most interesting character from the story. Tell us why you made her a more sympathetic character rather than the typical stereotypical villainess?
I like to do that with all my characters, essentially – make them well-rounded and not just one-dimensional heroes or villains. To my mind that’s what makes them real and leap off the page, as opposed to being caricatures. If you know a person’s background, like Ruth, then it helps you to understand why she became the way she is. Doesn’t excuse her behaviour, but it does help you to relate to her – she’s not just being a bitch for the sake of it. Nobody is all bad and nobody is a complete saint; we are all shades of grey, and the authors of our own lives. Things we might have done in the past that seem okay to us, could have had a really negative impact on others – as Mr Bond says in Spectre: ‘It’s all a matter of perspective.’ The same could absolutely be said of Angela, who’s generally a good person unless her buttons are pressed, and the thirst for vengeance becomes too much. Then you see someone who’s a completely different kettle of fish.
4. Another aspect that I enjoyed about Snow was that you created your own mythology around the source material and there are limitless possibilities for more stories. Is it your desire to make a sequel or prequel to this twisted world you’ve created?
I didn’t have that in mind when I was writing the original Snow, I was trying to make it as self-contained as possible – so readers didn’t need to have read any other stories to enjoy it. I do like putting nods to my other tales in my work, which you either get – and it makes you smile – or you don’t and it doesn’t matter. As I think I mentioned to you before, I’m aiming to loosely link together Snow, Sleeper(s) (http://tinyurl.com/jq8ksjt) and the version of Cinderella I’ve just written, plus a couple of other future ones. It’s just a fun aspect that tickles me, and hopefully some of the readers. If I get an idea to continue Snow, I might go there – the same as I did with RED. That, again, was written to just be a standalone – and anyone who’s read the ending can see I absolutely had that in mind – but then I started to have thoughts about how I could continue the tale, and the rest is now history. I definitely have a sense of where RED might go after the sequel, and indeed a way to tie up the whole trilogy, but that’s at some point in the future. Right now, I’m gearing up to do a post-apocalyptic novella called The Rot for Horrific Tales, then after that I’m straight into a commissioned novelette gig I just got. By the time I’ve finished those, it’ll be time to do publicity for the mass market books Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell and End of the End, I guess – not to mention the events Marie and I are involved with between now and then as chairs of the UK branch of the Horror Writers Association. Never a dull moment…which is how I like it.
5. Any other fairy tales you’d like to put your spin own?
As I say, I’ve just written a take on Cinderella – a serial killer novelette that makes up one of the new stories for my crime/psychological collection Nailbiters, out soon. It’s something that would sit very well next to the more horror-orientated ones I’ve done before, as it’s pretty nasty. I think I mentioned during the online launch of Snow that I have a few ideas for more, including Jack and the Beanstalk – my version of that will be nothing that’s every been seen before. The flipside of that is I was going to do a Hansel and Gretel, but then they did a similar idea in Supernatural so I’m going to have to have a rethink. Since we’ve been chatting about this topic, and you mentioned Rumpelstiltskin to me, I’ve been having a few thoughts about that one… But first it’s back to my old friend post-apocalyptic land with The Rot.
I’d love to read his takes on Rumpelstiltskin and Jack and the Beanstalk! Especially, Rumpelstiltskin because that was a character that would always torture me in my dreams as a child.
I would like to thank Paul for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions. Keep up all the awesome work!