"Stephen King called Jack Ketchum, "the scariest guy in America" so I didn't know what to expect during the interview. I was admittedly
a little nervous but when we met I found an attractive older man who reminded me of the actor Wilem Dafoe. He was generous and gracious,
and spoke eloquently and intelligently. I couldn't quite match the man who wrote books such as "Off Season", "Red", "The Woman" and
"I'm Not Sam" the latter two written with horror director, Lucky McKee" and the man in front of me."
1.) What role does music play in your writing process?
I need to write in total silence. I need to listen to the "music" of the lines inside my head.
2.) How important is fashion in the creation of your characters? Does what they wear help define them?
I'm recalling Ray Pye and his boots, Avery Ludlow and his hat. That depends on the characters. If it's not necessary to help define them, I leave it out, leave it to the reader's imagination. The same with physical descriptions in general. In some cases it's important. Ray Pye's boots, stuffed with crushed cans and newspapers, his fake mole, his Elvis haircut, they're important to who he is. In COVER one of my main characters is a fashion model, a famous writer's mistress, so I studied up on what designers she'd be wearing at the time, who'd she be working for. In that case it was very important that I get it right, so that somebody reading the book wouldn't say, no, she'd never be wearing that. I also used contrasting clothes for his much more conservative wife.
3.) Are there any artists/painters who have inspired your work?
Dozens. I frequent the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a regular basis. For the grotesque, you can't beat the German Expressionists. George Grosz, Max Beckmann, Kokoschka, Kirchner and the rest. Some of these paintings and drawings are amazing at peeling away the face of pure human evil. SHE WAKES, set in Greece, references a lot of Classical and Mycenaean architecture and sculpture. On a few occasions I've actually taken stories directly from paintings. Both FIREDANCE and FOREVER, for instance, were commissioned to be written from paintings by Alan M. Clark for the anthologies IMAGINATION FULLY DILATED One and Two.
4.) When making the film version of your books, how important is the combination of art, music and fashion in telling the story.
Set and costume design are essential to realizing the story. It can be amazing for a writer to see the visualization of what's thus far existed only in his mind. I remember riding with Edward Lee to one of the sets for HEADER, based on a novella of his -- a nasty old cabin the crew built back in the woods. We stepped out of the car and Lee got this huge grin on his face and said "man, that's exactly the way I imagined it!" I've had the same experience several times. The basement for THE WOMAN comes immediately to mind. Ray Pye's costume was perfect, as was the makeup and costume design for my cannibal lady in THE WOMAN. On the other hand, in one of the movies -- I won't say which -- some of the costumes were misguided and marred an otherwise pretty good film. The music's essential. I've had very good composers for all my films. Sometimes it's very subtle, as in Ryan Shore's score for THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, and sometimes it's right up there in your face, commenting on the action or in counterpoint to the action, like Sean Spillane's music for THE WOMAN. Sean was on-set for the entire shoot, and was able to compose for what he was seeing in the dailies right then and there, a great decision on Lucky McKee's part.
5.) Do you dress like any of your characters?
I'm a jeans and loud teeshirt kind of guy. So probably not.