Continuing with the promotion of the recently released anthology, GRIMM TALES, I spend some time with contributor Blu Gilliand.
BLOODY KNUCKLES: One thing I've been wondering about is why there's been a sudden abundance of twists and slants on the Grimms. ABC has Once Upon A Time, NBC has Grimm, Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron have upcoming turns at playing the evil queen, Amanda Seyfried starred as Red Riding Hood in a full length movie adaptation (an idea I once pitched at a film fest...hmm...)and we've all contributed to this anthology. Want to share any insight you might have on this?
BLU GILLIAND: One thing is that the movie and television industry seems to have a pack mentality: when something succeeds, everybody tries to get on that particular bandwagon. When The Blair Witch Project blew up, a whole new genre - the "found footage" genre - was born, and still hasn't gone away. Halloween became a huge hit, and all of a sudden there was a glut of slasher films, all of them tied to some holiday or another. And now it's like the studios and networks are trying to anticipate what's going to be a hit so they can be in on it from the start, so when one hears about something that could potentially be a big hit, they all rush their own variations into production. Now, keep in mind, these are the opinions of a man from Alabama who's never been to Hollywood and never dealt with studios or networks, but if you look closely you can take a good guess as to how it works.
Another thing is that the Grimm tales are so timeless and so versatile. People have been playing with the ideas in those stories for years. Bill Willingham, for example, has been writing a comic series for DC called Fables that takes all these characters and sets them in the modern world, although they are hidden from the eyes of the mundane, normal people. (I often wonder what HE thinks of the sudden rush of fairy tale-based properties, considering some of them seem to skate pretty close to what he's been doing for a while now...) The point is, these are characters that most of us are familiar with, and we like to see familiar things used in new and interesting ways.
BK: Your story quickly goes really dark; the scene with the kids in the cage, for one instance, the conversation between the evil stepmom and the crone, for another. What led you there?
BG: I'm a horror guy. I love the stuff, and everything I write seems to filter through that sensability sooner or later. The reason I chose to riff on "Hansel and Gretel" in the first place is because it's practically a horror story in its original form. I thought the elements of the children getting lost, and the idea that the mom was deliberately trying to get rid of them, made the perfect crossover between crime and horror. Throw in a creepy old woman living deep in the forest, an old lady with some unsavory ideas of how to dispose of these two children, and well...I couldn't help myself.
BK: I ask this all of my first time interviewees: When did you know you were a writer?
BG: I think I've always known - maybe I didn't always admit it to myself, but I've always known. Some of my earliest school memories involve teachers telling me or my parents that I had a talent for writing. I would sit down with big hardcover books and just copy what I read in there - it was like the urge to write existed, I just didn't know how to go about it. All I knew was that I had to get words on paper.
Later on, in junior high school, I wrote a story for an english class. Unbeknownst to me, the teacher read it to ALL of his classes. The next day, it was like I went from this meek kid wandering the halls with my small group of friends to some kind of rock star. I was in seventh grade, and I had ninth graders - NINTH GRADERS, man! - coming up to me saying they liked my story. So I thought "Maybe I have something here."
Of course, as happens with so many of us, life and career and other pursuits got in the way. Actually, I let them get in the way. I realized a few years ago that writing was a dream I'd always had, but in order for it to come true I had to make time to work at it. So I have. I've published eleven stories now, and have written untold amounts of stories that have been rejected or will never see the light of day, but I recognize now that it's a process. I've always been a writer; it's just that now I know that being a writer is just the start - to be a GOOD writer, you have to put the time in. That's what I'm doing now, and hopefully it will pay off.
Blu Gilliand has published fiction and nonfiction in a variety of print and Internet publications including Dark Scribe Magazine, Dark Discoveries, Shroud Magazine, White Cat Publications and Hellnotes.com. Currently he conducts monthly author interviews for Horror World and writes a weekly column for FEARnet.com. He also covers horror and crime fiction on his own blog, October Country (http://theoctobercountry.wordpress.com). He invites you to visit his blog or stalk him on Twitter, where he posts under the imaginative name of @BluGilliand.