Please welcome Sean McDonough
to The Qwillery. Sean is one of the fabulous horror writers that I met at CT HorrorFest last month. His most recent work is The Class Reunion
which was released on October 29, 2019.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the first piece of horror you remember writing?
Sean: The first thing I remember writing is an attempt at a Goosebumps book when I was ten. I don’t remember much, but I do remember that the plot revolved around a haunted carousel.
TQ: Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?
Sean: 100% a pantser. I think if the writing is organic, the best thing I can do is get out of the way. The closest thing I do to plotting is a scribbled note in the margins for something I want to do twenty pages down the road.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Sean: The hardest thing for me is reminding myself that plot problems don’t have to unfold in a straight line. When I get to an interesting problem, my first instinct is to write out the solution with a battering ram. Good fiction comes with twists and turns, and I have to remind myself to keep the problem solving messy.
TQ: What has influenced / influences your writing?
Sean: 80s horror. The books and movies of that decade had such an honest, unpretentious embrace of the wild gruesomeness that makes horror the mainstay genre of sleepovers and weirdos at the back of the bus. I try to write my own work in a way that captures that joyful carnage.
TQ: What appeals to you about writing horror?
Sean: I like that horror is about breaking the rules. The dead come back to life. The thing bumping under the bed really is a creature. We root for the monsters instead of the white knights. Everything that the world is supposed to be gets inverted in a horror story.
TQ: Describe your new novella, The Class Reunion, using only 5 words.
Sean: Classic slasher style served fresh.
TQ: In The Class Reunion who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Sean: The easiest character was my main character Vickie. Her strengths and flaws really came together very early on. From there, I just had to sit back and see if she could survive the bloody gauntlet I laid out for her. The hardest was Alex. He’s one of the popular kids who, on the service, had it all put together. I had to find a way to get into his humanity without interrupting the flow of the story.
TQ: You've described The Class Reunion as a slasher novella. For you what elements are essential for a slasher novella / novel?
Sean: The most essential element is a memorable killer. It’s not enough to give a knife to a masked maniac, you have to make sure you do something to make him memorable. Which brings me to essential element number two- make sure the deaths are memorably outrageous.
TQ: Do you write any different types of horror? Tell us a bit about your other works.
Sean: I write all kinds of horror. Aside from my previous slasher slasher novel, I’ve also written a creature feature and a massacre at a cursed amusement park.
TQ: What's next?
Sean: Up next is an old school witchcraft story with a grotesque twist.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Sean: Pleasure was all mine.
The Class Reunion
October 29, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 150 pages
The graduates of Saint Regina Academy have broken into their abandoned elementary school for an impromptu reunion.
...But there’s someone else inside the school with them. He wants their flesh. He wants their blood. And he’s going to make sure that this is a class reunion that nobody ever forgets.