AN INTERVIEW WITH GRAYSON DALY
1. What do you like best about horror fiction?
I think my favorite aspect is the bending of reality. In my favorite horror stories, the line between the real and the unreal blurs, and the narrator’s mind becomes as much of an enemy as the evil they’re running from. I love big, overblown emotions, I love narratively convenient swooning, and I love monsters that might not even be there. I feel like the most effective horror uses the reader’s mind against them, and I think the best way to do that is to leave them uncertain. Is the house really alive? Did the narrator actually see the monster? Is their—and your—mind playing tricks? I love that tension.
2. What should people know about the Boston area?
This can probably be said of any city, but there’s something really cool about the juxtaposition of old and new in Boston—and throughout New England in general. One of my favorite spots is Mount Auburn Cemetery. It’s this gorgeous nineteenth-century garden cemetery with a cathedral and a sphinx and an incredibly atmospheric weeping willow, and it’s also across the street from a gas station and a grocery store. Salem’s got its House of Seven Gables and witch trial memorials, but it also has a cute little dress shop and an excellent burger joint. Providence was home to Poe and Lovecraft back in the day, and also me for a few years of college. I love how the pragmatic and the romantic are shoved up against each other, because it’s such a historically dense region that there’s no room for them to be otherwise.
3. What horror tropes do you think are overused?
I’m very much over the Not-Deer. It’s a deer, or some other harmless woodland creature, but there’s something not quite right about it—it’s got wolf teeth, or six legs, or red eyes. I grew up in the middle of the woods, and the thing that always scared me the most was coming across the ruin of an old farm and staring down into the well. The Not-Deer feels like the creation of someone who’s afraid of what might be lurking out in nature; I’m more afraid of what humans have left behind.