Q&A: Author Richard Chizmar

I chatted with local author Richard Chizmar about his love of horror and his friendship with Stephen King

You’ve been on FOX 45 Morning News, WHGM, and now my blog promoting your new book. What is it like being able to do local press?

It’s a lot of fun. Most of the stuff I do has always been more national. Some magazine out west or the Chicago Tribune. So it doesn’t really make a ripple locally. It’s fun because it’s usually to promote a book signing where I can actually meet the fans.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I started writing my first monster stories around age seven or eight. I was in college at UMBC when I hurt my ankle playing lacrosse. It was my third or fourth major injury. So I decided to stop playing lacrosse and write for the UMBC newspaper. Right around that time, Stephen King’s “IT” came out in hardcover and it reminded me of the horror books I used to love. It inspired me to change my major and transfer to College Park.

Why horror?

I grew up in Edgewood and it reminded me of “The Wonder Years.” I had a tight knit group of friends. I was the one who was always scaring the rest of the group. They would always yell “Shut up, Chizmar!” ::laughs::

I loved the escape of horror comics and Creature Double Features, so horror was just a nature lean for me.

So you had your own version of The Losers Club?

Exactly!

The past few years, films like “Halloween”, “The Conjuring”, “It” and “A Quiet Place” have made a ton of money and have made their mark in popular culture. Why do you think horror has had a resurgence?

I think it always goes in cycles. With everything politically going on, people need an escape. They need to have that two hour block of time where you can be taken through the ringer and came out OKAY because it’s only a movie.

People are feeding off movies like “The Conjuring” because the paranormal is IN right now. Stephen King’s work is catching fire again because the audiences crave stuff like that.

Why do you think Stephen’s work still resonates?

He writes about everyday people. He was the first writer to bring his characters to every town America instead of keeping them in castles. His characters drink Coke and eat McDonald’s. When you read one of his books, I’m sure you can pin point a character that you “know” in real life.

I know you two are pretty good friends. Didn’t he try to grill an Orioles hat?

We’re both big sports fans. He’s a huge Red Sox fan and I’m obviously a big Orioles fan. The bet was whoever’s team finished last, we would have to wear the other teams hat for a week and document it. The Orioles placed higher, so he sent me photos wearing an Orioles hat. There was one of him reading a book with it poolside, one with him around town. The end of it was when he “grilled” the hat ::laughs::

Besides writing novels, you’ve written scripts and directing. Which one is harder?

Directing for sure. It’s tough because you have SO MUCH to pay attention to.

What is your new book “Gwendy’s Magic Feather” about?

It picks off fifteen years after “Gwendy’s Button Box.” My first thought was what would happen to Gwendy when she’s running for Congress and the Button Box shows up again? There’s a lot of stuff going on in Castle Rock as well. We didn’t envision a sequel when we wrote the first one. I emailed Stephen with my thoughts and he gave me his blessing.

Before we go, I’m just going to throw you a question about your buddy Johnathon Schaech. If you two ran a race, who would win?

Me! I may be older, but I’m MUCH faster.

“Gwendy’s Magic Feather” is available now! Buy on Amazon

Follow Richard Chizmar on Twitter / Instagram / Official Website