ABOUT DAVID HERTER: David Herter was born in Denver, CO on Halloween, 1963. He subsequently lived in California, Utah and Washington State, where he attended the Clarion West writers workshop in 1990. His books have been published by Tor, PS Publishing and small presses; his short stories have been collected in Best New Horror. His favorite authors include Gene Wolfe, Brian Moore, C.L. Moore, Henry Green, Leigh Brackett, Manley Wade Wellman. His favorite TV shows include Star Trek: TOS, The Colbert Report, The Rockford Files and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. His favorite composers include Leoš Janácek and Bob Dylan.
I think it’s becoming something of a tradition with me: for the past couple years as Halloween approaches, I’ve taken down David Herter’s October Dark from the aerie of my bookshelf where it respectfully resides, eager to slip away into the novel’s enchantments and phantasmagorias and travel back in time to 1977, the year of “The Star Wars,” as the protagonist of the story so quaintly puts it. This fall, however, the talisman has changed. October Dark has been released in a newly revised ebook edition. Herter fans should have cause to rejoice: without losing any of the original version’s magic, this new edition of October Dark is sharper, more concise in places, and, yes, darker.
I was happy to take a few moments to interview David Herter about his newly revised Halloween epic, October Dark, which is available for just $2.99 through the rest of the month at Amazon.
Christopher Paul Carey: October Dark is quite different from your other novels, such as your Vernian fantasy Evening’s Empire, your far-future Ceres Storm, or your Eastern European SF-inspired First Republic trilogy (On the Overgrown Path, The Luminous Depths, and One Who Disappeared). What inspired you to write a novel about Halloween 1977, a haunted movie, Star Wars, and stop-motion animation?
David Herter: I had been trying to write a book about 1977 for a long time, but nostalgia always got in the way. Like Will, my main character, I was thirteen in 1977, and a regular 8mm stop-motion animator. I read Famous Monsters of Filmland and Eerie and made crazy little animated films. I heard about The Star Wars from my friend Jim months before the opening. We saw it on opening day at the UA Cinema 150 in 70-mm and 6-track Dolby, with his brother and his brother’s girlfriend driving us into Seattle in their VW, pretty close to the scene I wrote in the novel. Star Wars took over my spring and summer, and the next five years or so. Shortly after high school, I wrote a feature-length screenplay about a kid and his friends and their adventures on the opening days of Star Wars and its sequels (the final chapter, The Revenge of the Jedi, hadn’t been released yet, so it was speculative fiction on my part). Surprisingly, the results weren’t that great (ha ha), so I shelved the idea for a couple decades. When I finally turned to it, I had to step back, far back, from my actual experiences. Only when I realized that Something Wicked This Way Comes could inspire the book on a literal and meta level, with the mirror maze at its heart brought into the realm of cinematic special effects, did everything start to click. To use a term from the world of stop-motion animation, Bradbury’s novel became my ghostly armature.