Like a lot of authors, horror writer Greg Chapman just wants his work to be read by people who will appreciate it. It’s why, when assembling his new collection of stories, Midnight Masquerade (paperback, Kindle), he chose to pair two of his notable novellas with some newly written and complimentary stories, among others. In the following email interview, Chapman discusses putting this collection together.
To start, is there a theme that connects the stories in Midnight Masquerade?
When I first pitched this collection to Gerry at IFWG Publishing, the idea was to republish two of my novellas — The Last Night Of October and Vaudeville — and write new stories on a similar theme. The two novellas are bookends in a way, and the new stories compliment them.
Even though I am an Australian (don’t hold that against me 😊), I am a bit obsessed with Halloween, and several of the stories I’ve written over the past ten years have been about Halloween or influenced by the holiday. Halloween isn’t a holiday here in Australia, but even as a kid I was always jealous of the tradition in the U.S. and Europe. The idea of the veil being pulled back to reveal the other side has always interested me, especially as a writer.
In the end, I wrote five brand new stories for this collection: “Happy Daze,” “Midnight Masquerade,” “Second Coming Circus,” “Thirty Years Later,” and “The History Of Halloween.”
There are also a couple of other stories which are reprints to round it out.
Midnight Masquerade is obviously a collection of horror stories, but what horror subgenres are represented in it?
There are several subgenres that I thoroughly enjoy writing in: psychological horror, supernatural horror, the fantastique, Gothic horror, body horror.
As you mentioned, some of the stories in Midnight Masquerade were previously published.
“Left On October Lane” was previously published in Specul8 in 2018. “Octoberville” was previously self-published.
Are the versions of those stories the same as they were in those journals or anthologies?
The stories are exactly the same as when they were published. I included them as they fit the theme of the collection. I get that some authors are tempted to update stories, but this feels like a bit of a betrayal to me. Wouldn’t the story have been as it was meant to be read when it was first published?
You also said that Midnight Masquerade includes your novellas Vaudeville and The Last Night Of October. Given how popular novellas have become the last few years, why did you decide to include Vaudeville and October in Midnight as opposed to putting them out separately?
The novellas have previously been published; a couple of times in print and The Last Night Of October was once included in a Halloween anthology. Essentially, the novellas inspired the new stories. Both the novellas were popular, and I wanted to capitalise on them, and secure a publisher that had more defined distribution markets as I felt the novellas hadn’t been as widely read as they could have been.
Along with your novellas and short stories, you’ve also written three novels: Hollow House, The Noctuary: Pandemonium (a sequel to your novella, The Noctuary), and Netherkind. Are any of the stories in Midnight Masquerade connected to any of your novels?
None of the stories in Midnight Masquerade are connected to the novels but they are certainly in the realm of stories I like to write.
Moving on to questions of influence, are there any writers who had a big influence on any of the stories in Midnight Masquerade, but not on any of your other work?
Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Thomas Ligotti, and Richard Matheson will likely come to mind when people read the stories in Midnight Masquerade. I enjoy putting ordinary people in horrible or otherworldly situations.
How about non-literary influences? Were any of the stories in Midnight Masquerade influenced by any movies, shows, or games?
Probably the Silent Hill games and films, and The Ring films. The crossing of the threshold into some other place or getting tapped on the shoulder by the supernatural are some of my biggest influences.
Speaking of Tinseltown, Hollywood loves making horror movies almost as much as they love making movies out of short stories. Are there any stories in Midnight Masquerade that you think could work really well as a movie?
“Happy Daze” would make a great film, as would “Octoberville.” I could also see Midnight Masquerade as a series; trauma victims being given the chance to get revenge behind a strange mask would have a certain appeal. Let me know Hollywood!
So, is there anything else you think people need to know about Midnight Masquerade?
I think the new stories in Midnight Masquerade are some of my best short stories to date.
I also have another collection out in October 2024 called Black Days And Bloody Nights, which will contain my novellas The Followers and Torment, along with six new stories on a supernatural and post-apocalyptic theme.
Finally, it’s been my experience that short story collections are a great way to get to know a writer. Do you think the stories in Midnight Masquerade are a good representation of who you are as a writer?
I do. Midnight Masquerade is a good representation of my style and work. Horror is as much about the human condition as it is the frights and I always strive to have something to say about human nature in every story I write. I also like to twist tropes and push the boundaries of the genre. I’d also recommend people check out my three novels.
In that case, if someone enjoys the stories in Midnight Masquerade, which of your novels would you suggest they read next?
Hollow House, because it’s my first novel, and it was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award in 2016. Outside of my collections, it’s a great way for someone new to my work to get a sense of the things I like to write about.