Terry West, from what I’ve read of him by and of him via social media, is a genuinely good dude, despite the consistently excellent creepiness exuded by his many popular works of frightful fiction. It does seem that the people who write the most effectively disturbing and provocative stories turn out to be the ones you’d most want in your corner when the zombie apocalypse finally goes down.
One way Terry manages to successfully maintain this double life of nice guy/fear-peddler is he incorporates all of his boundlessly imaginative characters and concepts into a single, cohesive alternate reality that is both a blast to visit and to escape - into.
He is also in the process of expanding his empire into the realm of film. So you can run, but you can't hide...
You are incredibly prolific! What drives you the most to create all of these intricate, interwoven nightmares (the Westverse)??
That’s a great question and I honestly don’t have an answer. It’s a compulsion. If I don’t write I go insane. It’s gotten worse the older I get. I wake at 4:30am every morning and write. If I don’t, I’m miserable all day. My current horror serial, Gate 4, ties many of these monsters together and it’s been a hell of a ride so far. I took a mid-season break after five episodes and it is set to resume in December.
Like mine, your work is very cinematic in nature. In a culture that relies increasingly on visual/aural stimulation - to the point where it may one day become exclusive - do you frankly even see a future for the written word as entertainment?
My work has always been extremely visual and naturally adaptable to the visual media, in my opinion. That’s why Council Tree Productions is currently repping my NIGHT THINGS property to networks and streaming services. The end game, for me, is to finally get those film/TV adaptations of my horror tales made. I think people will always read. Maybe not as many as we authors would like. My ten year-old son loves reading. So do many of his friends.
It’s true that Horror as a trend swings like a pendulum in our culture, but it feels like enjoying a true renaissance in all aspects of media. Are you feeling that, and if so, why do you think that is, including but beyond the current political climate?
These are scary times, and horror is a safety valve. It lets the pressure out before the boiler overheats and explodes. Horror entertainment is necessary for emotional growth and mental health. Horror has been too dominant in the last decade to call a trend. It might hibernate from time to time. But it is far from dead and always in season.
What are your influences, literary or otherwise?
King, Serling, Matheson, Laymon, Lansdale, Sturgeon, Shirley Jackson, Clive Barker. I really am a horror child of 60s to 80s horror. That’s the vibe I like. King taught me more about characterization than horror, if I am being honest. Laymon showed me that a b-movie can exist on paper. Barker showed me how deep human depravity can descend. Lansdale has the most effortless talent for dialogue. And Jackson has some of the greatest turns of phrases and imagery I have ever read. My abilities are a Frankenstein-esque combination of those authors and others. The masters teach you how to write, if you read them and study their craftsmanship.
What’s next for you?
A slight departure. A Noble Deed of Light and Mercy is a gritty 70s set thriller that’ll be out in December. Also in December, my horror serial Gate 4 will resume. That’s been a fun one for the creature feature crowd. And my next NIGHT THINGS book will be finished by year’s end.
Cheers ’n’ chills, my man!
Terry M. West is an American horror author. His best known works: What Price Gory, Car Nex, Dreg and his Night Things series. He was a finalist for 2 International Horror Guild Awards and he was featured on the TV Guide Sci-Fi hot list for his YA graphic novel series, Confessions of a Teenage Vampire. Terry was born in Texas, lived in New York for two decades and he currently hangs his hat in California.