YEAR OF THE DAEMON
An Interview With Harry Shannon
by John Paul Allen
Harry Shannon has been an actor, an Emmy-nominated songwriter, a singer, a recording artist in Europe, a music publisher, a film studio executive and worked as a freelance Music Supervisor on films such as Basic Instinct and Universal Soldier. He is author of Night of the Beast and Night of the Werewolf in addition to Daemon (formerly Night of the Daemon). Harry also wrote the Mick Callahan suspense novels Memorial Day, (2005) Eye of the Burning Man, (2006) and One of the Wicked (2008), as well as the acclaimed thriller The Pressure of Darkness (2006). Harryís horror script Dead and Gone was recently filmed by director Yossi Sasson. A novel version will be released in conjunction with the DVD in July, 2008. Shannon can be contacted via his web site www.harryshannon.com
Horror Garage: Daemon, the third of the Night trilogy (Night of the Beast, Night of the Werewolf) will be released in March. Tell us about it.
Harry Shannon: As most people know, I have a real soft spot for the cheesy horror of the 1970s and 1980s, and the Night Trilogy was paid homage to that kind of mass-market book. Having said that, I think Daemon stands alone a bit better than the others. Perhaps thatís because in plotting I combined it with elements of the military thriller and the police procedural. However, until now itís only been an expensive, limited-edition hardcover. So when Shane Staley at Delirium Books asked if he could also release it in trade paperback, I was delighted. It deserves a much wider audience. Above all, Daemon is an action-driven horror novel, and thus intended to be good, old-fashioned fun.
HG: When writing a continuing story, how far ahead do you know where you're going with it?
Harry Shannon: I always have to give a kind of Taoist answer to that one, because although I usually outline screenplays I rarely do a detailed outline when I structure a novel. I always start by deciding loosely what my three to five acts will be, and where the key plot points will probably fall. Then I use index cards to see a few scenes or chapters into the story and begin to write. Iím always up for inspiration to change my mind and restructure the story to some degree, but at least I have a general road map. At this point, after seven novels, I trust myself to just scribble ideas going a few chapters ahead as I move along. If I wander too far off into the woods, I know what I need to get back to by a certain point in the story, but I donít feel trapped by something I decided before the story blossomed into what it wanted to be.
HG: How structured is your schedule and do you leave room for unexpected additional work?
Harry Shannon: Between my eight year old daughter and my counseling practice, reading voraciously, writing novels and short fiction, movies and songwriting -- which has just re-entered my life for some reason -- my schedule is generally on overload. I keep a day planner, a huge desk calendar and if I donít have a deadline Iíll invent one to pressure myself. I stay busy because I need the action. Sometimes tell my wife that if I donít give my mind something to eat it will eat me.
HG: Youíve got one of the most interesting bios Iíve read and itís understandable how your path led you to writing, but what event(s) not mentioned do you believe brought you to this part of your life?
Harry Shannon: That is an intriguing question. Maybe itís that I canít remember when I didnít love the arts, and in particular the written word. Or how the novels of Richard Matheson, Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury knocked my socks off when I was a boy and opened up immense worlds of imagination. I remember seeing the movie version of West Side Story in a theater when I was around thirteen, and being blown away by the combination of talents necessary to make a good film musical. Itís just the way I see and hear the world, I suppose. I donít understand not being creative. I think some of it is just genetic; my daughter seems to have it as well.
HG: You get a lot of praise from other writers and readers. How do you feel about your writing?
Harry Shannon: Here is the truth. I feel like Iím just beginning to figure out how to write reasonably well. And I do believe Iíll write an excellent novel someday, but also that I havenít quite hit my stride yet. I donít know how to explain this exactly; except that there is an itch I just canít scratch. I suspect a lot of men and women would give you a similar answer. Itís like knowing youíre good enough to keep going, but never quite being satisfied with anything youíve done, you know?
HG: Iíve seen the pictures on your homepage and you seem to have a wonderful relationship with Paige. How does she react to her Dad being a horror writer?
Harry Shannon: My wife and daughter are what make it worth breathing. I know most Dadís say stuff like this, but Paige is amazing. Sheís smart, musical, literate, creative, funny and stubborn, loves animals and stuns me with something new every day. She tells her friends "My Daddy writes scary books." Paige already loves Goosebumps novels, which should tell you something.
HG: How can I get my hair and beard to look like yours?
Harry Shannon: Stress. Well, and make sure you drink and fight a lot well into your thirties.
HG: Time to plug: when can we expect new Harry Shannon material to be available?
Harry Shannon: I thought youíd never ask. And actually, this will be a busy year. Daemon will be shipping the third week in March from Delirium Books.com. The novel version of Dead and Gone will be out around the same time as the DVD, which Iím told means July of this year. Iíll announce a publisher shortly. And finally, the third -- and in my opinion best -- Mick Callahan novel, One of the Wicked, will be released in November by Five Star Mystery. There will be updates at my website, naturally.
HG: Many thanks for your time, Harry.
Harry Shannon: A pleasure, John. And anyone who hasnít checked out your novella Monkey Love really ought to, itís dark and funny and delightfully perverse stuff. Have a great week.
Interviewer John Paul Allen is
the author of Monkey Love (Biting Dog Press)