Grady Hendrix: Charm and Consequences

GRADY HENDRIX was born 1972 in South Carolina. He worked in the library of the American Society for Psychical Research before becoming a professional writer, first as a journalist and critic and later as a screenwriter and novelist. He attended the Clarion Workshop in 2009.

Hendrix’s first work of genre interest was story “The Hairy Ghost” in Pseudo­pod (2008), and he’s published several stories in publications including Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and various anthol­ogies. Novella Occupy Space appeared in 2012 (a revised edition was published as BadAsstronauts in 2022).

His debut novel, humorous horror title Horrorstör, was published in 2014. Other novels include Satan Loves You (2012), My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2016), Dragon Award and Shirley Jackson Award finalist We Sold Our Souls (2018), The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires (2020), and Bram Stoker Award finalist The Final Girl Support Group (2021). He co-wrote two YA novels, The Magnolia League (2012) and The White Glove War (2013) with Katie Crouch.

Other works include Stoker Award-winning and British Fantasy Award-nom­inated non-fiction book Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction (2017) with Will Errickson, Dirt Candy: A Cookbook (2012) with wife his wife Amanda Cohen and artist Ryan Dunlavey, and These Fists Break Bricks: How Kung Fu Movies Swept America and Changed the World (2022) with Chris Poggiali. He co-wrote film Mohawk (2017) and wrote Satanic Panic (2018), and multiple movies based on his books are in development. He is a co-founder of the New York Asian Film Festival.

Hendrix lives in New York with his wife.

Excerpt from the interview:

“There are lots of final girl stories, but it’s like vampire books – the last time I checked, I think there were at least three vampire books out there. We can have multiple final girl books. I mean, Steven Graham Jones’s My Heart Is a Chainsaw and Final Girl Support Group came out within spitting distance of each other, and both books did well.

“I’m glad the book didn’t get bought back in 2016, because, honestly, it’s a better book now, and it’s the book it needs to be. Two big things happened. One, as I mentioned, is that my cur­rent editor put her finger on a giant problem with the book and the other is, while the book changed remarkably little between first draft and last draft, in terms of order of incidents and characters, the entire last third came to­gether during the pandemic. My mom got sick in the summer of 2020 and I had to go down to South Carolina and stay with her; she has lung disease, and to get COVID would have been a death sentence for her. I had to write the last part of the book there, and the ending changed radically. A lot of that was, a) being cooped up with nothing else to do, and b) writing about a character who didn’t go outside because they were scared of being killed, for whom any en­counter with stranger could result in death, who had to plan every expedition to the supermarket like a military maneuver… and then liv­ing that experience myself. That really triggered some­thing in my head that got me to where I needed to be.

“The whole book is a big chase sequence, basically, so finding the spaces to breathe and deliver the info was a hard thing to figure out. But also, Lynette is less of an unreliable narra­tor and more of just a plain old human be­ing. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve ranted about some­thing and been like, ‘I would never do that, except that one time I did it, and then the other time I did it… but beyond that, absolutely not. Until next month when I do it again.’

“I really love writing first person, and I hadn’t done it before because as an American I’m sus­picious of anything that gives me pleasure, so doing this book in first person was such a blast. That meant that, automatically, the next book I did was not first person, and was hard, and ar­duous, and felt better and more like a book. But Lynette was right there from day one.

“Finding a good idea is really hard. I’m work­ing on the book after the next book right now, and it has a lot of pregnant characters in it. I’ve really been trying to figure out, ‘How is this go­ing to work? Who’s going to be talking,’ and then it hit me: Oh, it’s someone who’s com­pletely in denial that they’re pregnant. ‘There’s no way you can prove there’s a baby in me. There’s just no way!’ So that’s fun. I’ve been wrestling with this idea, seriously, trying to get this book going for four months, and that idea is what’s going to get me putting words on the page. I did my heavy metal book a couple years ago, called We Sold Our Souls. I was wrestling with it – I’d done two books with female main characters, and this was going to be about a dude who’s middle aged who’s still holding on to his old band and won’t give up. It’s got all that dude rage stuff that really drags us down and destroys our lives, but also provides the energy that keeps us going. The book wasn’t coming together and then I was sneaking out of an election night party in 2016 – which really went poorly – and I realized, ‘Oh yeah, the main character’s gotta be a woman.’ If it’s going to be someone who’s being told they have zero value in this world, right now, it’s got to be a woman. And instantly, the book fell into place, but I had to get past the idea of what I was go­ing to do and find the idea of what it needed to be.

Interview art and design by Stephen H. Segal.

This report and more like it in the September 2022 issue of Locus.

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