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eSpec Books interviews Gordon Linzner, contributor to Even in the Grave, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander.
eSB: Even in the Grave is a collection of ghost stories, without spoilers, is your story a part of a greater universe stemming from other stories you have written, or does it stand alone? Whichever your answer, can you tell us about what makes that universe unique?
GL: This story is one of several I set in ancient Japan, all of which are stand alone, but of course they do share a common folklore, one which I found fascinating. Every culture has its ghosts and demons, but in the lore of this island nation in particular they felt to me more intrinsic than, for example, in that of the western world.
eSB: Okay, first, off the top of your head, who is your favorite ghost and why?
GL: My favorite fictional ghosts vary depending on my mood and what I’ve read (or watched) most recently. I greatly enjoy most of the spirits, particularly the scout leader, in the original British version of “Ghosts” – the U.S. version is okay, but not as good. As for real ghosts…one of my side jobs involves giving ghost tours here in New York, and much of the appeal of those spirits depends greatly on their back story. One of my favorite stories involves an unreal ghost, that is, not the spirit of a dead person but one created by a mind obsessed with a certain character. There’s a house on Gay Street in Greenwich Village said to be haunted by a figure in formal dress and a cloak which a pulp writer who lived there in the 1940s claimed he created with his mind, being so invested in the character. That writer was Walter Gibson, and it was in that building that he wrote his final adventure of The Shadow…the mysterious figure who haunted the place for years afterward.
eSB: Do you believe in ghosts, and why? Is there an experience in your life you can share with us that strengthened that belief?
GL: Despite a few eerie experiences, and as mentioned leading the occasional ghost tour here in New York, I am not a firm believer in ghosts. Rather, I think what we perceive as the dead returning as things we interpret as such simply because we don’t have a real-world explanation, and therefore are interpreting as best we can (sometimes even if we don’t believe our own idea). That said, I can’t resist mentioning the time, over a decade ago, when a group of us (including the late Lisa Manetti) decided to extend our NeCon weekend at the Lizzie Borden house. Some of us were more aware of paranormal activity than others; I, for instance, only realized the next morning we may have been re-enacting some events from more than a century earlier. Without the bloodshed, of course.
eSB: Other than horror, what genres do you write in? Tell us something about your other works and what makes those genres different from writing horror.
GL: I actually started out doing more sword & sorcery than horror. That genre also has its share of horrific elements but allowed me much more flexibility in world-building. The market is somewhat limited these days, alas! I’ve done more than a few urban fantasy and historical fantasy tales, and dabbled a bit in (soft) science fiction and mysteries. In the latter area, to my own amazement, I sold four Sherlock Holmes stories last year!
eSB: What is your least favorite aspect of being an author, and why?
GL: Staring at a blank computer screen for hours, trying to come up with a new story. To some extent I miss the typewritten sheets I started out with, last century. It’s easier to simply delete a paragraph that isn’t working than to throw the page away and start over, although I can’t help feeling the latter helped one concentrate more, gave more thought to what you plan to put on the page before your fingers hit that keyboard.
eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?
GL: I have a variety of short stories scattered all over the place right now, but Crossroads Press has kindly reprinted all three of my novels from the late ‘80s: The Troupe, The Oni, and The Spy Who Drank Blood.
eSB: What advice would you give aspiring horror writers?
GL: The same advice I’d give any genre writer; sit down and do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. Read and analyze, figure out why something works in a story and something else doesn’t. If you can, join a group of similar interests and don’t be afraid to give or take criticism. I was fortunate to meet a group with some very talented writers but before that, I learned a lot from publishing a small press magazine: in seeing why a certain submission didn’t work, I’d often realize a story of mine had similar flaws.
eSB: How can readers find out more about you?
GL: In addition to my occasional postings on FaceBook the isfbd site has a fairly complete list of my shorter work, though it’s a bit behind on my recent publications (2021 was, happily, a busy year for me).
Gordon Linzner is founder and former editor of Space and Time Magazine, and author of three published novels and scores of short stories in F&SF, Twilight Zone, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, and numerous other magazines and anthologies, including Footprints in the Stars (eSpec Books). He is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a lifetime member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.
Learn more about Gordon Linzner:
ISFDB * GoodReads * Amazon * BookBub
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