Horror and Shakespeare - Charles F. French Chat Transcript Feb 27, 2020 23:14:52 GMT -5
Post by Admin Kbatz on Feb 27, 2020 23:14:52 GMT -5
Thank you to Charles F. French for our Thursday Evening Shout Box Chat on Horror, Shakespeare, and Everything in Between!
Charles F. French's Publishing Chat Interview is here: horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net/thread/128/professor-charles-french-chat-interview
charlesffrench: Good evening to everyone!
Admin Kbatz: Welcome Back Charles!
charlesffrench: Thank you. How are you tonight?
Admin Kbatz: Working on HOW
Emz: Checking in.
Emz: Hiya Charles! Sorry most of us missed you the other day. In California, we are super busy during the day. What state are you from?
charlesffrench: I am from Pennsylvania, and it is good to see you tonight.
Admin Kbatz: Did you do workshops with Jonathan Maberry at the Writer's Coffeehouse or just the Lehigh Valley Conference
charlesffrench: Unfortunately, I have not been able to do workshops with Mr. Maberry. I hope to be able to do that sometime though.
Admin Kbatz: He's great. When I first had my horror series out like 15 years ago I did events with him and I was like what am I doing here with Jonathan Maberry but he still treats me like an equal and I'm like yeah okay Mr. Maberry
Emz: Oh cool! East coasters unite! Hahah right Kbatz?
Emz: I'm interested to hear about you and such. I'm gonna shut up now so Kbatz can intro you and all.
Admin Kbatz: Charles is a college professor and the author of Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1; Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2; The Investigative Paranormal Society Cookbook;
Admin Kbatz: and also French On English: A Guide To Writing Better Essays.Charles also has an extensive How to Build Worlds and Characters in Horror Workshop at HOW: horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net/thread/102/world-character-build-horror-series
charlesffrench: And thank you very much for the very kind introduction.
Admin Kbatz: I want to know more about the cookbook because we had the Morbid Meals at HorrorAddicts.net
charlesffrench: Ah...I had a great time doing that cookbook.
charlesffrench: The idea came to me from several blogposts I did about recipes from my "characters." So all of the recipes, including appetizers, main courses, side dishes, desserts, and drinks are from the characters in my Investigative Paranormal Sociey Series.
trinity: Since you mentioned the cookbook, which section or recipes were your favorites?
charlesffrench: I love them all, because they were all taste-tested for quality control, of course! But I do recommend the chili!
Emz: Charles, since I'm not familiar with your series, can you tell me what your series is about?
charlesffrench: Yes, I am currently working on book 3 in the series, and it is possible there might be a fourth.
charlesffrench: It is the Investigative Paranormal Society, set in a mythical town in Eastern PA called Bethberg. 3 older gentlemen, all of whom have lost someone close to them to death, want to know if there is life after death. They are friends, have the time, and resources, so they form a ghost hunting group but what they encounter in the first book, Maledicus, is much worse than a ghost. They face a demon that is threatening a young child in their town, and they have to decide if they will battle it or not. I will say this much--they do battle at the risk of their sanities, their lives, and their souls.
Emz: That sounds fun.
charlesffrench: They are horror. Maledicus, the antagonist, is about as evil a being as you will find.
trinity: Paranormal investigators are enjoying a renaissance nowadays. Do you see another book in the series in that?
Admin Kbatz: Did you intend to do a series and have all the books planned out?
charlesffrench: Yes, I have written the first two, and they are out--Maledicus and Gallows Hill. The next I hope to have out in October either this year or next. And a ghost of a puritan preacher/hangman is what they face in Gallows Hill!
Admin Kbatz: October of course, being the perfect time for marketing and promotion!
Admin Kbatz: You said you write a lot everyday in our earlier interview, but being self published do you make timely deadlines for yourself like October for horror?
charlesffrench: Yes, I try to make realistic and useful deadlines. Sometimes I am unsuccessful with meeting them and must make adjustments, but I try to do it anyway.
trinity: Will any of the next books take advantage of the East coast's whaling history?
charlesffrench: I don't think so, but that is a very compelling idea.
Admin Kbatz: There isn't a lot of whaling in our area I don't think, more New England. We had pirates
charlesffrench: I have taught Moby Dick before--hmmm...perhaps the ghost of Ahab.
Admin Kbatz: But how much research and history affects your setting?
charlesffrench: I try to do as much research as I can.
charlesffrench: And we also had and have Nazi supporters and neo-nazis. They are part of book 3. With the ghost of one being the main villain. For example in Maledicus, we see him alive as a spy, torturer, pimp, and murderer for Emperor Caligula in Ancient Rome.
trinity: I could see restless Nazi spirits that are intent on continuing their evil.
charlesffrench: Yes, with the Nazi ghost, it is especially timely. There is a ghost and a living person it influences.
Emz: Charles, what sort of classes do you teach at University?
charlesffrench: Most of the English classes from First Year Writing to Shakespeare, American Literature, and Irish Literature. And I am lucky enough to be able to focus on Gothic and Horror in one of my first-year classes!
trinity: You're teaching all my favorites Charles.
Emz: That's really cool. ? Do your new young kids like know anything? I'm just saying.
charlesffrench: I am very lucky with what I can teach. And at Muhlenberg College, I teach adult students in the Evening College. At Lehigh University, I teach traditional aged students.
nox: Not sure if this has been asked before, I'm interested in how you develop your characters, Do you chart them out or just write them as you go along. Or is there an end goal from the beginning?
charlesffrench: Hello, and I create biography sheets at the beginning and expand them as I go.
trinity: I saw your talk on biography sheets. I've done some but none so extensive.
charlesffrench: I built that from my acting background, and I found the sheets to be very useful.
Emz: What is your biggest advice to new students who want to become novelists?
charlesffrench: The best advice I can give to all writers is to read everyday and write everyday. Nothing else is as important.
charlesffrench: I try to write 500-1000 words everyday, and I read about 100 pages every day.
Emz: I agree! Great advice.
trinity: A key to good horror is tension. Do you prefer watched victim, jump and scare, or race against the clock when you build that tension?
charlesffrench: I prefer to build tension slowly, with developing characters so readers care about them and worry about them. And it also depends on where in the book the tension occurs. At the end of my novels, the chapters are much shorter, with sharp cuts.
trinity: Ah, the slow torture.
Admin Kbatz: What are your horror influences and inspirations?
charlesffrench: Great question--Stephen King, Bram Stoker, Anne Rice are among my favorite horror writers. less than a minute agox
charlesffrench: Certainly there are more; I would include the thriller writer John Connolly, even though he is not technically horror, his books verge on it. Also Richard Matheson and Shirley Jackson.
Emz: This is a weird, off the wall question, but what do you think happened at the end of The Turn of the Screw? And if you don't know, I totally get it.
Admin Kbatz: To understand the end of Turn of the Screw you have to ask what he thinks is happening in the beginning
Emz: Hahaha well, true.
charlesffrench: No, that is a great question, and one we explored in one of my graduate classes--it is completely uncertain. Because of the narrative structure, it might be supernatural or insanity which caused the events.
charlesffrench: So, it becomes--as I would say to my students--what do you think?
Admin Kbatz: What do the gothic classics have that modern horror is lacking or gets wrong? So many of the adaptations of Turn of the Screw miss the mark, which is understandable considering the source but horror trying to be mainstream seems to lose something.
Emz: What I don't get is that in the reading, and mind you, I was listening to it on Librivox, I didn't get the weird sexual connection to the boy... but yet in various adaptations, there is that weird thing. Am I going crazy, or was it implied? and as for what was going on... i have no idea if it was the kids being weird or ghosts. But I kinda like to think it was ghosts.
charlesffrench: I think it was implied. Because of the time period in which it was written, it would not be stated directly. I do think it was there.
Emz: I like the book so much less when I see it that way. I'd like to stay in my bubble. Lmao.
charlesffrench: To answer about modern horror and what it is lacking--I think it has too much of a dependence on the easy scare or jump cut as opposed to building character, tone, story, and tension.
trinity: I think it helps to remember that for the time period, there was a profound belief that the supernatural was a cause for psychological disturbances, for madness.
charlesffrench: But some contemporary writers are simply extraordinary! For example, I think Stephen King will be remembered as one of our times great writers.
trinity: I agree about the jump cuts. I prefer that slow buildup with character interaction you described but ultimately don't you think there must be an attack that "changes" the protagonist in some way in a horror story?
charlesffrench: I agree the main character must change, but I don't think it has to be from a specific attack.
Admin Kbatz: Are there adaptations of horror books that have made you pull your hair out?
charlesffrench: yes...most of Dracula and Frankenstein. I keep waiting for excellent adaptations in which the filmmakers trust the books.
Admin Kbatz: Oh my gosh I did a 30 min video complaining about the new netflix Dracula
Emz: Lmao well the Netflix Dracula is horrid.
charlesffrench: I agree...I could watch only a little bit. It is terrible.
Emz: I REALLY liked the last Dracula TV series. That is by far my favorite. I know it played with the story a bit, but I felt like the characters were true, if updated.
Admin Kbatz: You mean the 2013 one? I think that was because it embrace steampunk for the mainstream. Steampunk has been around a long time in fiction it has just now gotten public popular
Emz: Yes, Dracula 2013 TV series was awesome. But also because of the way it was filmed. When Mina is thrown down and she only can witness the Dracula attack from her view... blood, sounds... it was very powerful.
Admin Kbatz: That is what I hated about this 2020 Dracula, the way it had modern editing it was making it fun house horror so the audience anticipates and laughs rather than gets scared.
Admin Kbatz: Devil's advocate, but is there such a thing as too much dread for the reader?
charlesffrench: No, I don't think there is too much dread. Have you read the book The Exorcist? It is much better than the film.
charlesffrench: The book has more time to develop and build the dread in the reader.
trinity: I have to admit I found the film somewhat ridiculous. If put me off wanting to read the book.
Admin Kbatz: The sequel book is also better than the other films
Admin Kbatz: What did you find ridiculous about the movie?
charlesffrench: I recommend the book--the books are almost always better than the movie.
trinity: The vomit scenes, the makeup. The patient. I liked the priest.
Admin Kbatz: Really? Did you see spoofs before it? I like the spoof Repossessed
charlesffrench: With spoofs, have you all seen Young Frankenstein?
Admin Kbatz: YF is great. A spoof done right is wonderful. I love Dracula Dead and Loving It I don't care
Emz: Hhaha yes, Young Frankenstein is classic!
trinity: I Love Young Frankenstein and Dracula Dead and Loving it. I can't resist a Mel Brooks production.
nox: Young Frankenstein, one of my favorites!
trinity: Do you find your strong understanding of Shakespeare's work add to your ideas of horror and also character development? Many of the plays are exceedingly dark
charlesffrench: Shakespeare certainly adds to my understanding of horror, character, and life. Macbeth, Titus Andronicus, and Hamlet all have horror elements in them.
Admin Kbatz: What annoys me is the darkness in Shakespeare is not what is often taught in schools. Which I don't understand because they are all heavy in their own way.
Admin Kbatz: We talked about this earlier. Titus is downright disturbing in many scenes but today most people dismiss Macbeth just as bubble bubble toil and trouble
charlesffrench: I think the problem with the teaching of Shakespeare, especially in high school, is that teachers are afraid of dealing with the sexuality in the plays.
trinity: They certainly do. Titus Andronicus is out there. Macbeth is amazing in exploring the dark side of power. They all are. Madness intertwines the characters beautifully in all of them. King Lear as well.
Emz: Shakespeare was dark in my school. Course, the dram teacher was also the English teacher. hahaha
charlesffrench: You were very fortunate!
nkassa: Charles, do you have a favorite Shakespeare play?
charlesffrench: I love A Midsummer Night's Dream. I have taught it, written about it, delivered a paper at an academic conference about it, acted it, and directed it!
nkassa: What do you like about it and has it inspired any of your writings?
trinity: It's so much fun. I wrote an erotic story once inspired by Midsummer Night's Dream.
Admin Kbatz: Why are horror and sexuality intertwined often then if we are talking about Shakespeare and Darkness?
Admin Kbatz: I for one, think Hamlet's uncle is actually his real father, which puts a totally different spin on it. Here the school refused to let my sister teach Othello in her class and we always end up arguing about it.
trinity: Oh yes, Othello. Elizabethan OJ.
charlesffrench: I think they are intertwined because they are in life as well. There is a great deal of eroticism in A Midsummer Night's Dream--it is not a child's story.
nkassa: Was wondering if any of his books are inspired by Midsummer
trinity: Shakespeare is like the bible. There are stories there that never become dated because he handled basic human frailty and greed.
nox: Midsummer Night's Dream, such a great play! Funny, sad, maddening, such a mixture.
charlesffrench: Shakespeare is life!
Admin Kbatz: I love Julius Caesar and I love how it screams now, yet it is a 500 year old story doing an account of 500 years before then.
trinity: It really is life. Charles you're right. You must come West and visit our little Shakespeare museum here on the coast.
charlesffrench: That would be wonderful! Where is it located?
trinity: In Moss Landing, CA. Visits by appointment because some of their stuff is very valuable.
charlesffrench: I hope I can get there someday.
Emz: I don't know much about it, but don't they have that summer shakespeare camp or whatever Trin?
trinity: There is one in Santa Cruz and a festival in that little Danish town in SoCal.
Admin Kbatz: Does this mean we can talk about Tom Hiddleston if we're going to talk about Shakespeare?
Emz: Oh, no... I knew she'd work Tom in here somehow. hehehe.
Admin Kbatz: Hey, man, I didn't all damn week, give me a break. He's relevant to the topic.
Admin Kbatz: I wish The Hollow Crown series would do another cycle of the Roman Plays.
Emz: ((kbatz)) hahaha just teasing.
Admin Kbatz: I'm totally innocent I'm only the moderator.
trinity: Did you enjoy the Patrick Stewart MacBeth?
Admin Kbatz: I loved PStew's the best compared to the recent Fassbender one. I wrote about it for HA I think.
trinity: Oh, I missed that essay. I'll go look it up. See everyone at East Coast midnight!
charlesffrench: And yes, I loved the Patrick Stewart Macbeth.
nox: I'm glad I came to this chat, I think a lot of our writers could benefit from hearing you, Charles, thank you.
Admin Kbatz: Sean Bean did a stage production that was trying to get a movie done but it ended up falling through because the Fassbender one came along, and I loved Fassbender but his Macbeth was a miss and all his films now have been disappointing.
Emz: Yes! Patrick Stewart Macbeth is a real win for me.
trinity: Me too Emz. It gave me chills.
Admin Kbatz: The way it made Macbeth fascist was genius. There is an Ian McKellan Richard III that is also pseudo fascist and it is mind blowing.
trinity: I've seen sections of that Richard III. I should look it up and watch it all.
Admin Kbatz: Charles where can readers find your work?
charlesffrench: I will have a book out soon for writers, called Get The Draft Done!
charlesffrench: My books can be found on Amazon, both as ebooks and print. Look for Charles F French. Here is the Amazon link: www.amazon.com/Maledicus-Investigative-Paranormal-Society-Book/dp/1533425434/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
nox: I was about to ask where we could find your teaching.
charlesffrench: Get The Draft Done! is intended to help writers who have difficulties finishing their first drafts.
nox: OH, I think I need to read that!
Emz: Thanks Charles! Those books sound interesting, I hope you email us so we can get you on the show this season.
trinity: Thanks for the link Charles.
Admin Kbatz: Any final questions for Charles? For more information about Charles visit http://www.charlesfrenchonwordsreadingandwriting.wordpress.com
charlesffrench: This is wonderful.
charlesffrench: also on @french_C1955 on Twitter
trinity: Thank you Charles.
Admin Kbatz: Thank you everyone!
charlesffrench: You are very welcome, and it was my pleasure.
Admin Kbatz: Thank you Charles! Shakespeare, Horror, we have it all at HOW
charlesffrench: And I have to say how happy I am to have found this site
Emz: Thanks for coming! Hopefully we'll be talking soon.
charlesffrench: You are very welcome!
nkassa: Charles, before you go, what's your favorite line from Young Frankenstein?
charlesffrench: Class . . . is . . . dismissed!
charlesffrench: I use the clip sometimes and then repeat the line at the end of my classes!