Buildings, and lives, are shaped by their authors. I love the idea of an architect creating a building without Euclidian geometry, where balls always roll into odd places, and floors creak, and when you look at the structure from outside, you have no idea how it stands. A Gaudi without the beauty or respect for nature. For me, that’s a metaphor for a life shaped by uncertainty, like our hero, Audrey Lucas’ life. She’s drawn to The Breviary because it’s familiar. Once inside, she’s shaped by it. Like a plant inside a small, glass cage where light comes from only one direction, she grows crooked.
I read a lot of science, and to me it’s scarier if the horror is backed up by believable science because then it’s part of our world as opposed to something that’s so outré that it’s not a part of our world, it’s not connected to us. It’s not that I don’t like those other kinds of fictions—I read them. But for me as a writer, I want to tell something that would scare me. I’m not scared of supernatural monsters. I am frightened of a bacterial or bio-weapon that is misused, so I write what scares me.
I’m good at this, and I can—just barely—make a living doing this. Now, I try to do it very well, as well as I can do it. There’s no point doing anything unless you bring your best to the effort, and I care very deeply about literature. So, I’m not cranking out crap for a paycheck. I’m bashing my head against a keyboard for a paycheck. I’m scraping out my brain and soul for a paycheck, and I don’t care who finds that analogy overwrought or melodramatic.
To me [horror is] the genre of unease. It makes me feel really uneasy and it gives me kind of a creepy feeling. It can border on wanting to look away, it can border on disgust—but that’s a type of horror. Horror can be any genre. There’s science fiction horror, there’s dark fantasy that’s really really dark, there can be mysteries that converge on horror. It depends on how far you want to go down the path of darkness.
When the first Hellboy series came out, in the same batch of fan mail I got a letter from somebody from the Church of Satan and I got a letter from a minister, and they both liked it. And I thought, “What am I doing that I’m making both these guys happy?”
What I would say to the young me is, “Don’t be a snob. Acknowledge that work done in the genre can be just as beautiful and literary as any book by your favorite mainstream writer, Updike, Roth, Bellow. If there has not yet been a Scott Fitzgerald of horror fiction, there ought to be one day. Do what you can and don’t worry so much. As long as you bring forth what is in you, everything is going to be all right. You’re going to be surprised.”
I see the passage into death as an immense transition from the temporal into the eternal. I think there’s a tremendous focused power involved in that particular moment. Dead bodies for a while, I think, still have some of that force. So the idea of people who went around habitually murdering other people solely for the experience of murdering them, that is, participating in this great process—in an evil way, of course—from an unappetizing, mentally-ill manner, they couldn’t help but be interesting to me.