The novelist whose new book is ''Lone Women,'' loves horror writing because it ''confronts the worst that happens ....... A good horror novel doesn't lie to you.''

.-  What books are on your night stand?

'' The Black Guy Dies First, '' by Robin R. Means Coleman and Mark H. Harris; 

'' The Survivalists,'' by Kashana Cauley; '' Mott Street,'' by Ava Chin.

.-  Describe your ideal reading experience [ when, where, what, how].

My wife and I have our kids read for a half-hour before we put them to bed. Sometimes all four of us will be crowded into Mom and Dad's bed, each of us reading to ourselves, and I am blissful. Sometimes our old cat even jumps up there. Then it's perfect.

.-  Which writers working today do you admire most?

My wife, Emily Raboteau, writes a great deal about climate these days so I've been reading over her shoulder for some time now. Mary Annaise Heglar, Elizabeth Rush and Genevieve Guenther are a few favorites.

.-  What do you read when you're working on a book?

I read the same things when I'm working on a book as I do when I'm not, whatever catches my interest. Inspiration is a limitless resource and you can't know where it will come from.

Books, articles, tweets, song lyrics, words tagged on the window of the train, any one of them can offer me insight.

.-  Do you count any books as guilty pleasures?

I love reading about artists and their terrible, childish ways. The trick is finding books that expose that behavior without endorsing it. That's a fine line. Usually takes an unauthorised biographer to pull it off.

Kitty Kelley's biography of Frank Sinatra is a classic in the field. Arnold Rampersad's biography of Ralph Ellison, while much less salcious than Kitty Kelley's, scratched that itch, too.

.- Has a book ever brought you closer to another person, or come between you?

Kenzaburo Oe's '' A Personal Matter '' has come between me and more than a few classes when I tried to teach that book.

The novel is about a young father whose wife has given birth to a child with catastrophic health issue. The father does not, to put it mildly, handle this well. The short novel is essentially the chronicle of him falling apart and rebuilding himself.

But Oe is quite unsparing in his portrayal of the protagonist's worst actions and feelings. That can be hard for people to read, pretty impossible to like. But I was trying to give an example of how ruthless, and honest, my students should be about their own main characters.

Most were unconvinced. They were incorrect.

.-  Which subjects do you wish more authors would write about?

I wish white authors would write about the racism that happens when Black people, or any P.O.C., aren't around.I don't want it to be the subject of the novel. Instead, in the middle of a story about two lawyers falling in love, the senior partners just make a bunch of awful remarks at a dinner and then the love story continues. Because that's actually how it happens. 

As a Black writer, I'm pretty tired of writing about racism, but white writers keep dropping the ball.

.-  Which books got you hooked on horror?

 Clive Barker's ''Book of Blood'' were some of the first to show the depth and breadth of what could be done with the genre and the short story. Barker moved between the gory and the atmospheric, the filthy and the fantastic.

Shirley Jackson and Stephen King are dependable favorites. '' We Have Always Lived in the Castle,''  '' The Haunting of Hill House,'' '' Different Seasons ''

'' Skeleton Crew,'' '' Pet Sematary.'' Also Robert R. McCammon ''Blue World,'' Ramsey Campbell's '' Demons by Daylight. ''I was spoiled for great horror as a kid.

.- What makes for a good horror novel?

For me, the best horror speaks to a deep fear the author hopes to address, one that feels profoundly personal, and you as the reader are welcome to watch the author the characters wrestle with it.

People sometimes ask why I want to read horror at all, let alone write it. Horror is a fearless genre. So much writing glances off the hardest and worst experiences, but horror confronts the worst that happens.

Sometimes the worst can be defeated, but just as often it can't. Nevertheless, it can be addressed, acknowledged, rather than tidily resolved. A good horror novel doesn't lie to you.

 .- What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

I read to escape a chaotic household. When you have a book up to your face, you become invisible. While I wasn't from a family of readers, they did respect the act of reading. As long as I had a book I was safe, or safer at least.

I think it's part of the reason I was drawn to horror as well. Stephen King, Peter Straub, Robert McCammon, those dudes wrote doorsteps. They were worth weeks and weeks of protection.

.-  What are you planning on reading next?

I'm looking forward to Mariana Enriquez's ''Our Share of Night.'' People I trust tell me it's a great one. And I was already a big fan of her previous work.

The World Students Society thanks The New York Times.


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