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Chuck Wendig finds comfort in horror

In Chuck Wendig’s newest, “Wayward,” sleepwalking becomes the means of surviving the end of the world. This is Wendig’s follow-up to his bestselling “Wanderers.”Michelle Wendig

In Chuck Wendig’s newest, “Wayward,” sleepwalking becomes the means of surviving the end of the world. This is Wendig’s follow-up to his best-selling “Wanderers.” Wendig is not only a prolific author but a wide-ranging one who has written over a dozen books for adults and children, including the Star Wars novels, as well as writing for video games, film and television, and comic books for Marvel. He lives in Bucks County, Pa., with his family.

BOOKS: What are you reading?

WENDIG: Andy Davidson’s “The Hollow Kind,” which is about a mother and child who end up inheriting a house that has a sinister history. It’s a gets-under-your-skin kind of book. I’m also reading Ed Yong’s newest, “An Immense World.” I’m a huge fan of his pandemic writing (in The Atlantic) and of his book about the human microbiome, “I Contain Multitudes.” He makes science writing fun to read.

BOOKS: Is that typical of what you read?


WENDIG: Probably. I read a lot of horror and thrillers, and I read a lot of nonfiction as well. When I read fiction I get the novelist’s ideas, which is great. When I read nonfiction, I’m generating my own ideas. Nonfiction reading is more methodical. You don’t have that fishhook in your cheek pulling you along like with thrillers. But I find that methodical reading opens my brain up more.

BOOKS: What nonfiction writers do you read regularly?

WENDIG: Mary Roach, Carl Zimmer, Annalee Newitz, who also writes science fiction. She wrote “Four Lost Cities,” which is about early settlements. You need look no further for cool world-building ideas for science fiction than actual history. Mallory O’Meara is another one. She wrote a world history of women’s impact on alcohol and cocktails, “Girly Drinks,” which she won a James Beard Award for.


BOOKS: When did you start reading horror?

WENDIG: I think my sister put Robert McCammon’s “Swan Song” or “Stinger” in my hand when I was 12.

BOOKS: Were your parents concerned about your reading?

WENDIG: I grew up in the era when parents had no idea what their children were doing. At the video store, I would rent an R-rated movie and my parents were like, “It says aliens. It must be like ‘E.T.’ right?”

BOOKS: What draws you to horror?

WENDIG: I find horror quite comforting, which is counterintuitive. I also find a cathartic component to being scared in this container. Writing and reading horrors feels like that ancient art of a sorcerer bringing forth demons into the summoning circle as a safe place to fight them.

BOOKS: Have you ever met your match in horror books?

WENDIG: There are some books that are rough. “The Walking Dead” comic books became too nihilistic. It’s not that I mind grim nihilism but when it goes on for episode after episode, you start to feel like it’s crushing something inside of you. I don’t need horror to have a happy ending, but I need to feel it is trying to do more than just be cruel.

BOOKS: Do you look for humor in your horror?

WENDIG: I love humor in my horror. Someone like Joe Lansdale, who is such a gifted writer, knows how to be drop dead funny. Some other authors really lean into the humor of horror, such as Christopher Moore. His first book, “Practical Demonkeeping,” is horror at its core but it’s very funny. Grady Hendrix can write some funny stuff while ripping your heart out of your chest.


BOOKS: Which author would you suggest to someone who wants to try horror?

WENDIG: I would suggest Paul Tremblay’s work. He’s not only a beautiful writer but his books hurt you hard. Stephen Graham Jones for sure. There’s a weird book by Scott Hawkins who worked in computers before he wrote his first book, “The Library at Mount Char.” I love that book so hard.

BOOKS: How do you take care of your books?

WENDIG: I’m one of those monsters who folds the corner of pages to mark my spot. I know. I’m terrible. When people come to my book signings they sometimes will hand me a book that is beat up and apologize for it. They don’t need to apologize. I love to see those books with war damage from the reading trenches.

This interview has been edited and condensed. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @GlobeBiblio. Amy Sutherland is the author, most recently, of “Rescuing Penny Jane” and she can be reached at amysutherland@mac.com.