Oct 18, 2012

Don't Look Behind the Bookshelf: Day 1

Dont Look Behind the Bookshelf
What are you doing here? Do you not see the letters in huge red script?! It told you not to look behind here--and you did. Now you have no choice but to pry your eyes open and be exposed to the first day of Don't Look Behind the Bookshelf. It features an interview with an author who is full of wicked awesomeness, and if you don't know him, you must! I read his book ages ago and it gave me chills. Ghouls and Goblins, proceed with caution as I present to you:

Joseph Bruchac

Trick or treat?
This brings back memories of going out one Halloween to trick or treat with my younger sister Mary Ann and going to the home of an elderly (or so she seemed then) woman who insisted that it was not  "Trick or Treat" but "trick for treat." Which meant we had to do a trick for her before she would give us a treat. I recall Mary Ann being dressed as a princess (but I suspect she'll remember she was Wonder Woman) and me as some sort of caped and masked Zorro type. We tried to convince the woman she was wrong. No dice. So, as I remember, we did a few tap dance steps (both of us were then taking tap dance and I was lame at it). Tah dah! She then, a little reluctantly, doled out a few pieces of candy corn. If this is what being in show biz is like, I recall thinking, it is just not worth it! An interesting philosophical insight for a boy of nine who quit taking tap dancing soon after that.

Truth or dare?
The truth is I have never dared to do truth or dare.

Best Halloween creature? 
Vampires. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for them, seeing as how they have so much at stake. 
What’s the worst and best candy to get on Halloween?
Candy corn is the worst, especially when it has been ossified by age. The best--Hershey's kisses.
What’s your most memorable Halloween costume?
What I remember most is how unconvincing the costumes were when I was young--nowhere near as good or as realistic as the ones we have now. And the masks which we wore back then--stiff, ill-fitting cheap ones bought from Woolworth's had this smell to them that I still associate with cheesiness. 

Best movie to watch for Halloween? Best book to read?
Fright Night--not the remake, but the Tom Holland film from 1985. Or maybe Shadow of the Vampire, which is a very cool movie about the making of the film Nosferatu in which the "actor" hired to play the vampire turns out to be the real thing. Dracula, by Bram Stoker.
What scares you?
I have to admit that there is very little about Halloween that actually scares me--nor has there ever been. I find it entertaining, interesting, but nowhere near as creepy as a good book or a well-made film.

If you could be any Halloween creature who would you be? 
I really would not like to be anyone and anything other than myself--unless we are talking about the characters in my books when I am writing. That is when I "transform." When I really get into a character, I feel as if I am living my stories rather than just writing them. 

If you could go back in time and rewrite the legend of a fictional (or nonfictional) monster/creature, which would you choose?
The Chenoo is an Abenaki cannibal monster that used to be a human but was filled with greed and selfishness and was transformed into a terrible bloodthirsty creature (like the Windigo). Its scream is so terrible that anyone who hears it drops dead; I actually have been working on a novel told from the Chenoo's point of view.
How do you celebrate Halloween? 
I like to go to downtown Saratoga Springs and watch the people who show up in costume on Halloween night. Local people and people from nearby Skidmore College usually come out dressed up. There are always some really great costumes.

In about 140 characters or less, please write a miniature Halloween story.
You're alone. Or r you? Do you hear soft footsteps getting closer? Feel hot breath on yr neck? Smell blood? Turn around. Too late!

It’s Friday the 13th, you’re home alone, and it’s dark. Simultaneously, the phone rings and you hear somebody upstairs. What do you do?
Wait for the answering machine to pick up the phone. Tell the kids to go back to bed.

If you were in a horror movie with a classic killer what would you do to survive?
Having watched all those films I know that (to borrow a phrase from Star Trek) "resistance is futile." So I would not attempt to either panic, run or fight back. I would just stay calm and quietly and carefully get out of the woods, or town, or state. Leave by the nearest exit. Perhaps while wearing Harry Potter's invisibility cloak.

If some of your characters were going to dress up for Halloween, what would they dress up as? 
My character Molly, in my novels Skeleton Man and Return of Skeleton Man would dress up as she did in the second novel. Luke King, in my novel Wolf Mark would disguise himself as a normal person, not, I repeat, not as a werewolf.

Using the letters of SKELETON, how would you describe yourself? 
Well, you could say I am a TEEN at heart who has read TONS of scary stories, written LOTS and is KEEN on horror fiction. I also might NOTE that I have ONE big NOSE and good muscle TONE. I have ONE SON who is an animal tracker and never gets LOST, another SON who is a jiu-jitsu master and can tie me in KNOTS. Like most people I have TEN TOES. However, I have never STOLEN STONES in a SLEET STORM, nor do I ever take NOTES while shooting SKEET.

You’ve written several novels, some of which are very Halloween-esque. Would you mind explaining them? 
Wolf Mark is my most recently published novel about a young Native American man who discovers in the course of the story that he has inherited the ability to transform into a werewolf, but not one like those in most stories. In my series of novels published by Harper Collins: Skeleton Man, The Dark Pond, Whisper in the Dark, Night Wings, The Return of Skeleton Man, Bearwalker, my main character is a modern young Native American man or woman who finds himself or herself by something which seems to be one of the monsters out of one of our traditional tales.

What’s next for you? What do you see in your writing future? 
I have ideas for a long list of books, including sequels to Wolf Mark and another Skeleton Man book. Plus I am finishing a post-apocalyptic novel called Killer of Enemies for Tu Books. And I am working on songs for a new CD (I do a lot of song writing and performing, most recent CD was Honor Song) and finishing a new collection of my poems.
Joseph Bruchac lives in the Adirondack mountain foothills town of Greenfield Center, New York, in the same house where his maternal grandparents raised him. Much of his writing draws on that land and his Abenaki ancestry. Although his American Indian heritage is only one part of an ethnic background that includes Slovak and English blood, those Native roots are the ones by which he has been most nourished. He, his younger sister Margaret, and his two grown sons, James and Jesse, continue to work extensively in projects involving the preservation of Abenaki culture, language and traditional Native skills, including performing traditional and contemporary Abenaki music with the Dawnland Singers. 
Want to learn more about Joseph Bruchac? (You know you do!) Then go to his website, or check out his Goodreads! And if you're looking for a great Halloween read, I highly suggest you check out Bruchac's novel The Skeleton Man.

Publisher: HarperCollins
Publishing Date: August 1, 2001
Pages: 128

Ever since the morning Molly woke up to find that her parents had vanished, her life has become filled with terrible questions. Where have her parents gone? Who is this spooky old man who's taken her to live with him, claiming to be her great-uncle? Why does he never eat, and why does he lock her in her room at night? What are her dreams of the Skeleton Man trying to tell her? There's one thing Molly does know. She needs to find some answers before it's too late.

I read this book several years ago and I still remember it--that doesn't happen with a lot of books. I remember that it freaked me out, was super duper creepy, and was absolutely amazing. Yes, it's a short read, but that doesn't mean it isn't fabulous. I think I remember someone eating the skin of their own fingers. Intrigued, are you? As Kirkus calls it: "A natural for under-the-blanket reading."

Also, if you're in New York, consider going to the annual Scary Story Night at the Ndakinna Educational Center on October 27--there'll be a pumpkin carving contest, all kinds of scary stories, and Joseph Bruchac will be there!

Come back to Beauty and the Bookshelf tomorrow to see which author is up next. Although you know: Don't Look Behind the Bookshelf. So return if you dare.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! Loved the interview. Joseph seems to be very talented, quirky and a lot of fun. I haven't read any of the books, but I'm definitely checking them out now. I love the premise behind ALL of them, especially the Native American vibe.


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