Seasonal Suspense: Melissa Crandall on ‘Tricks & Treats’ anthology (Q&A)

It’s publication day for Tricks and Treats: A Collection of Spooky Stories by Connecticut Authors (Books & Boos Press)! And only thing better than being published is being published with friends. Today, I’m joined by fellow contributor and writing pal Melissa Crandall.

Melissa cut her professional writing teeth on media tie-in novels for the television series Star Trek, Quantum Leap, and Earth 2. She is the author of the collection Darling Wendy and Other Stories and the fantasy novel Weathercock. Her nonfiction essays have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and The Journal of the American Geriatrics Association, and her short fiction has been featured in Allegory, the Tri-Annual Online Magazine of SF, Fantasy & Horror. Melissa is currently nearing the completion of edits on a non-fiction work, The Man Who Loved Elephants.

Me at Zoo
Author Melissa Crandall.

From the publisher:

Tricks and Treats: A Collection of Spooky Stories by Connecticut Authors features a mix of both classic and contemporary authors from the Constitution State. The lineup includes famous residents such as Mark Twain, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, John G. C. Brainard, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, as well as modern-day authors Melissa Crandall, G. Elmer Munson, Ryanne Strong, Stacey Longo, John Valeri, Dan Foley, and Kristi Petersen Schoonover. Some, though not all, of the stories are set in Connecticut.

Tricks and Treats

Now, Melissa shares some scares …

John Valeri: What inspired your contributions to Tricks and Treats?

Melissa Crandall: I’ve written ghost stories before, although I thought of them more as fantasy rather than horror because they were of a more benign nature. That’s where “Dreams on Racks” came from – that and a huge dollop of inspiration and effort on the part of my good friend, writer/disc jockey/suave man about town David Jessup. As for “The Cellar,” that came about as my response to a challenge levied by Stacey Longo. I based much of the imagery on the cellar in the house where I grew up.

JV: To what do you credit your interest in dark fiction – and what purpose do such stories serve?

MC: It’s my mom’s fault that I love dark fiction. She introduced me to “The Twilight Zone,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Outer Limits,” and all those great old shows that frightened the bejeezus out of me. Dark fiction—any fiction, really—is a means by which we face what scares us, face our demons, and stare them down … or not. (Bwah-hah-hah.)

JV: This anthology is Halloween-themed. Why does this particular holiday make for a good backdrop?

MC: We love to safely scare ourselves and what better way to do than with ghoulies, ghosties, and things that go bump in the night? Halloween is custom made for that with its walking spirits and all the extraneous stuff that’s attached itself to the day – witches, vampires, monsters, you name it.

JV: For those looking for recommended reading in the genre, who/what would you recommend (and why)?

MC: I go in for more psychological horror rather than splatter and gore. Where’s the fun in that? A reader can do more damage to themselves with their imagination than with any graphic image. Stephen King, obviously, has had an enormous influence on the genre. I also like Peter Straub, Jonathan Carroll, and Shirley Jackson.

JV: Leave us with a teaser: What comes next?

MC: Next is a departure for me from fiction to narrative nonfiction. The Man Who Loved Elephants is about Roger Henneous, who spent 30 years as the senior elephant keeper at the Washington Park Zoo (now the Oregon Zoo), taking care of the largest herd of breeding elephants in the United States. I have an agent and the book is in its final—I use that term loosely—editing phase before being sent out to publishers. Fingers crossed!


With thanks to Melissa Crandall for gracing us with her virtual presence.



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