Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Gal's 2017 Halloween Frivolities Day 25: Newman's Character Has Spoken


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Welcome to The Gal, Andrew.  Some of my readers have yet to ready your story.  What should they know about you?

Andrew Holland:
My name is Andrew Holland.  My friends - those who haven't jumped ship by now - call me Andy.  I'm a bestselling horror writer with over thirty published novels to my name.  You might have read some of them: BRAIN FEVER, HOUSE ON HARDING STREET, SLOW BURN, and THE NIGHT PEOPLE are the titles most people tend to recognize.  Perhaps you've seen the WOLF MAN movies that were based on my first book.  If not, trust me... you're not missing much.
            Not too long ago, my life turned into a nightmare like something out of one of my books.  I was walking my dog, Norman (named after the proprietor of a certain motel, natch) when I discovered the body of a murdered child on a vacant lot not far from where I live.  Right away, the police knew I had nothing to do with the crime.  However, during the weeks following the little girl's murder, as the authorities searched for her killer, the media took every opportunity to mention my name and the kind of stories I write.  My neighbors began to make connections between my livelihood and my gruesome discovery.  At first, it was relatively harmless - a dirty look from across the street or a friendly wave that went ignored.  But the whole thing quickly escalated until lives were lost and I barely made it out of that neighborhood with every part of me intact.
            ANIMOSITY is my story.  It's about how fear changes people, how it turns those who look just like you and me into bloodthirsty monsters.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you believe in?

Andrew Holland:
Nothing.  I've made a good living writing about ghosts and demons and creatures from outer space, but I don't believe in any of those things.  I'm not even sure if I believe in God.  No... scratch that.  I do believe in a higher power, but it's not some guy with a long white beard, sitting on a cloud, checking off the names of those He'll send down south one day because of their sexual orientation.  I think it's something good and kind, albeit something that our puny brains could never begin to comprehend.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What haunts you?

Andrew Holland:
The thought of something bad happening to my daughter, Samantha.  I almost lost her, you know, during that whole mess on Poinsettia Lane.
            Now more than ever, as I watch Sam grow from a little girl into a young woman, I find myself dreading the day when I am forced to let her go.  She'll be on her own, eventually, and she won't need her father anymore.  That terrifies me.  She's been through so much.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any phobias?

Andrew Holland:
Snakes.  I'm not particularly fond of large groups of people either, after what happened, but... Christ, I hate snakes.  You have no idea.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the worst thing that has ever happened to you?

Andrew Holland:
It should be obvious to anyone who's read ANIMOSITY.  And for those who haven't read it, they should.  That's some scary shit.  Because it really happened.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you lying to yourself about anything?

Andrew Holland:
If you had asked me this question shortly after I left Poinsettia Lane, I would have said that I've lied to myself my whole life.  I lied to myself by believing that people were basically good and trustworthy.  While I'm trying to get that back, and I think I will eventually, it should go without saying that it's been difficult.  When you go through what I went through, it's hard to trust anyone.  It's hard to tell yourself that people are decent.  I'm trying.  But... I don't know.  Maybe one day I'll get it back.  It's just going to take a while...

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What was your childhood like?

Andrew Holland:
I had a wonderful childhood.  My parents were hardworking people.  A little strict, but they meant well.  They wanted to see me succeed, which is why they were adamant about my "having something to fall back on."  They weren't readers, so they didn't understand that one could make a good living telling stories.  They sure as hell weren't horror fans.  But they always had my back.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Were your actions the result of freedom of choice or of destiny?

Andrew Holland:
They were the result of people being idiots.  They wanted someone to blame and I was their scapegoat.  I guess it could have happened to anyone who writes books about serial killers cutting off heads and women birthing demon babies.  Some folks, that's not their idea of quality entertainment, and if you think it is you must be a little deranged.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
If you could go back in time and change anything, would you?

Andrew Holland:
I would have stayed far, far away from a certain young lady when I was nineteen years old.  We make mistakes when we're younger that we could never imagine might one day impact our future.  I often wonder if my neighbors would have done what they did to me if my past  had been squeaky-clean.  Would it have mattered to them?  Would they have blamed me all the same for what happened, because of the stories I write?  Hard to say.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does your name mean to you?

Andrew Holland:
Nothing, really, though I did look it up.  It's Scottish.  Google tells me that guys named Andrew have "a deep desire for a stable, loving family or community, and a need to be appreciated."
            How about that.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What scars, birthmarks, tattoos, or other identifying marks do you have?  What stories lie behind them?

Andrew Holland:
After that last day on Poinsettia Lane, I have a dime-sized scar just below my collarbone.  It hurts a little when it rains, 'cause that shit went all the way through - I have an identical scar on the opposite side, on my back.
            Tattoos?  Only one.  It's on my shoulder, just above the aforementioned scar.  It's tiny, so you probably couldn't read it if you were standing more than four or five feet away from me.  But that's okay, because I got it for me and no one else.  It says "SAM."

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What was unique about the setting of your books and how did it enhance or take away from your story?

Andrew Holland:
Poinsettia Lane is - WAS - the perfect neighborhood.  White picket fences, well-kept lawns, two-point-five kids, and a Lexus in the driveway.  It's Anytown, USA.  There should never be anything to fear in a place like that, which makes the events in ANIMOSITY so damned terrifying.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How do you see yourself?

Andrew Holland:
As a flawed man doing the best he can to raise his daughter in a messed-up world.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How does your enemy see you?

Andrew Holland:
At one time, they thought I was a monster.  They know better now, of course, but at one time they were afraid.  They allowed themselves to be misled by gossip and misinformation.  It turned each of them into something... awful.
            I often wonder if they're remorseful.  I haven't spoken to any of these people since the day I left Poinsettia Lane.  I don't plan to, either.  Every one of them can go to hell.
            Sound bitter?  It's because I am.  You would be too.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How does the author see you?

Andrew Holland:
As a guy who lost a lot of faith in humanity, after everything he went through.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why do you think the author chose to write about your story?  Do you think he did a good job?

Andrew Holland:
I know that James has always been intrigued by mob mentality and how such a thing is possible among civilized people, so ANIMOSITY was the perfect book for him to write.  I think he did a fine job.  Of course, any author worth reading has his or her own style.  A hundred different writers would tell the same tale a hundred different ways, but I don't regret selling James the rights to my story (after deciding that I didn't care to relive that shit in a book of my own).  I've read reviews that claim ANIMOSITY couldn't really happen, that people simply wouldn't go that far.
            Well, I'm here to tell you that people did go that far.  I'm living proof... although I almost wasn't.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think about the ending?

Andrew Holland:
James nailed it.  No "feel good book of the year" here.  He told it like it happened.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?  Would you change anything about the story told? Did they miss anything?

Andrew Holland:
When I first read the book, I can remember wishing that James had scaled back a bit on the - ahem - animosity towards my ex-wife, as Karen's not around to defend herself.  I do believe, though, that Karen finds a bit of redemption in the end.  Despite how our marriage ended, she was there for me when it seemed like the rest of the world wanted my head on a stick.  And, like I said, this is the way it happened, even if ANIMOSITY doesn't portray Karen as the most likable person.  Our marriage went belly-up because of infidelity.  I was still very angry about that.  If a writer doesn't tell the truth, he might as well put down his pen and do something else for a living.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Have you read any of your authors' other works?  Any good?

Andrew Holland:
I've read almost everything he's published.  I'm a fan.  My favorite to date is UGLY AS SIN, which isn't a horror novel, per se, but I used to get a kick out of wrestling when I was a kid so I loved his protagonist in that one.  I actually got to interview Nick Bullman a few years ago, just like we're doing here today, which was a lot of fun.  For someone who looks so scary, Nick's actually a very funny guy.
            I would urge those who haven't read Newman's most recent novella to purchase a copy.  Think ANIMOSITY pissed you off?  Wait until you read ODD MAN OUT.


About the author:
James Newman lives in the mountains of North Carolina with his wife and their two sons.  His published works include the novels Midnight RainThe WickedAnimosity, and Ugly As Sin, the collections People Are Strange and Death Songs From the Naked Man (w/ Don Gash), the novellas The ForumOlden, and Love Bites (also w/ Donn Gash), and the quizbook 666 Hair-Raising Horror Movie Trivia Questions.

About the book:
ANIMOSITY is the story of Andrew Holland, a bestselling horror writer whose life begins to mirror the fictional nightmares of his novels after he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  
            Andy's wife recently left him for another man.  To keep from getting too depressed after that, Andy has thrown himself into his writing more vigorously than ever, when he's not spending as much time with his daughter, Samantha, as joint custody allows.  His neighbors seem proud to know him (although none of them would admit to reading "that kind of stuff").  The author is the closest thing to a celebrity most of Poinsettia Lane's residents will ever meet.  Everything changed, however, the day Andy discovers the body of a murdered child just several hundred yards from his front door.
            Almost instantly, his neighbors start to turn on him.  Though the authorities clear him of any wrongdoing, as weeks pass with no arrest, the local media insinuates connections between the gruesome subject matter of Andy's novels and his tragic discovery.  His neighbors' derision is subtle at first - a nasty look, a friendly wave that is not reciprocated.  Ben Souther, with whom Andy once enjoyed cold beers and baseball banter on warm summer nights, offers the writer advice which now hints of something more unsettling than the sly wisdom normally found in his quotes-for-every-occasion: "Let us not make imaginary evils when we have so many real ones to encounter."
            His neighbors soon take their disdain to a frightening new level.  His phone rings, and when he answers muffled voices curse him, spitting vile accusations.  They vandalize his home, trash his vehicle.
            And just when he thinks things can't possibly get any worse, another child's body is found.
            Andy is no longer sure if he will survive this ordeal with his sanity intact... assuming he does survive.
            ANIMOSITY is a disturbing look into how otherwise good people can allow themselves to be misled by gossip, rumors, and a mob mentality.  It is a retelling of the "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" for the modern age, a morality-play-meets-horror-story in which the monsters wear al-too-familiar faces.  Rather than bloodthirsty vampires or brain-eating zombies beating at the door, they are our own friends, our families, our peers... and what in any horror writer's twisted imagination could be more terrifying?

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