I interviewed Dan Poblocki, who writes creepy YA novels perfect for reading during the Halloween season!
A little bit about the author: On any given day, you might find me strolling through the Brooklyn Museum or Botanic Garden, reading books at the library, window-shopping in Park Slope, people-watching in Prospect Park, snapping photos of strange stuff I find on the street, gossiping with friends, sneaking off to matinee movies, swooning over puppy dogs, day-dreaming way too much... oh yeah, and writing.
The Nightmarys by Dan Poblocki
Published August 24, 2010
Timothy July has been having nightmares. About his brother, who is in a coma after being wounded in Iraq; about his best friend, Stuart, who is behaving like a jerk; about the old biology specimens in jars lining the walls of his classroom; and about Abigail, the new girl who seems to be a magnet for trouble. Or perhaps she is the cause. Suddenly Timothy’s nightmares are coming true. His brother, his face decaying, approaches Timothy on the street. Stuart ends up in the hospital, terrified that monsters are stalking him. And the specimen jars are tormenting not only Timothy but his teacher as well. What is the secret in Abigail’s past that is the key to these horrors? And can Timothy figure it out before his nightmares become a deadly reality?
What was your inspiration for The Nightmarys?
I had a dream in which I was in a garden surrounded by a group of girls wearing white Victorian dresses. For some reason, I couldn't see their faces. Of course, they gave me a very creepy feeling, and when I woke up, I knew they were called the Nightmarys. That was the image that I started with. In my first book, The Stone Child, the main character is a boy named Eddie. One of his favorite books is called The Revenge of the Nightmarys. I imagined that the Nightmarys from my dream were a group of ghostly girls who have the power to make all your worst nightmares come true. I decided to play with that idea and that theme for my second book, which eventually became The Nightmarys.
What's the most memorable Halloween you've ever had?
Unfortunately, the Halloween I remember the most was the one time I wasn't able to out trick-or-treating. I was about 10 years old and came down with a HORRID case of poison ivy. It was such a bad allergic reaction that my eyes nearly crusted over and swelled shut. I had it in my nose and my mouth and all over my body. I was so uncomfortable that I could barely move. I thought it was strange how when all of my friends were dressing up in costumes, I'd pretty much turned into a monster all by myself. But my friends and family were kind. While I sat at home, watching scary movies on cable, they all went out trick-or-treating for me and brought back a huge bag of candy. It didn't quite make up for missing the holiday, but I'm pretty sure that was the night I learned to love horror films.
Who are your favorite villains from literature and movies?
I adore the Grand High Witch from Roald Dahl's The Witches. She's so scary and silly and purely evil. In a similar way, I also think the Other Mother from Neil Gaiman's Coraline is super creepy. And who can forget Tim Curry playing Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the tv miniseries of Stephen King's IT? I think that one gave me nightmares for years. More recently, I think the ghost of the haunted suit in Joe Hill's book Heart Shaped Box is a pretty unique and terrifying villain. I love a good ghost story. Finally, the best baddie ever, the one that can still make me scream out loud, I believe, is the shark from JAWS. That beast is just an unrelenting eating machine, and I can't imagine anything scarier.
What is the strangest or funniest Halloween costume that you've ever seen or worn?
Living in New York City, I've seen some pretty tasteless Halloween costumes over the years (Superman in a wheelchair...? Wince!), but the strangest one would have to be the fuzzy red, full-body suit my friend Nico wore to the Greenwich Village parade a few years ago. I believe it had a feathered pink mohawk. And all we could think to call him was "The Disco Chicken."
What can fans be expecting from you next?
My next book is coming out in fall of 2012 and another is coming in 2013. The first one's a ghost story about an abandoned psychiatric hospital in upstate New York. I've just started the one after that, but it's sure to be spooky too! I'm having fun writing it so far.
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What was the scariest nightmare that you've ever had?