What books are on your nighttable now?
  • The Riverside Shakespeare
  • The Best Ghost Stories of H. Russell Wakefield
  • Al Franken, Giant of the Senate
What book struck you dumb? Or turned the excitement on in your head and pen?
Struck me dumb as in “made me stop writing”? Can’t think of one. Books that turn on the excitement in my head weren’t so important to how I write. I learned to write carefully by rewriting people who didn’t.
Who/what are your favorite strange writers/stories?

Hard to pick a favorite Robert Aickman story, but let’s say “Growing Boys.” Peter Straub called it “uncharacteristic.” I disagree.

Also hard to choose one Avram Davidson story. “Now Let Us Sleep” is his Hamlet (profound content), “Negra Sum” his MacBeth (sublime form).

Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, “Carmilla”
William Faulkner “The Leg”

Was there anything that you've experienced in New Orleans that made you want to update the genre to there?
The fact that I didn’t need to.
You have a trilogy, how do they connect? Tell us something about your Stay Out of New Orleans Trilogy.
It is a trilogy by accident rather than design. I wrote Stay Out of New Orleans between 1993 and 1999, The Breathtaking Christa P between 1997 and 2001, and Naught But a Shadow between 2001 and 2005. Then came the flood. Afterward, the books transformed into a time capsule, especially since they take place in the early, middle, and late decade, respectively. The first book combines hyperreal crime with the strange story, the second book is just the crime element (it’s actually a Jim Thompson parody), and the final book is just strange. Certain locations recur between all three, and a number of characters from Stay Out turn up in Naught. The most unifying factor is that revelations in one book will affect how you view events in the others. Most obviously (though how obvious can it be if I have to point it out?), the protagonist in Naughtfeatures in a Stay Out story that reveals a traumatic experience he never mentions in Naught (although both he and another character allude to it).
What were your favorite books as a child?
  • No Flying in the House
  • The Martian Chronicles
  • Tales of Poe (don’t remember the exact title)
  • The Lottery
What were your favorite books as a teen in Breezy Point?
  • Still The Lottery
  • Any Robert Bloch
  • Richard Matheson’s Shock series
    I was also the first Stephen King fan any of my Science Fiction Club friends ever heard of.
If you could have a dinner party - what three writers would you want there? And please don't take dinner party literally, you know what I mean.
Twain, Poe, Shakespeare
If you could place one book on a high school curriculum, what would it be?
The Real Frank Zappa Book
What is the greatest book you've ever read?
Blood Meridian or I, Claudius
Do you give books as gifts? And if so, how do you choose the book to give?
Yes. I choose them intuitively, based upon careful knowledge of the person’s personality and interests, so I’m pretty much always wrong. Sometimes someone else comes over their house and says, “That looks like an interesting book” and the person goes, “Here, take it. It was a gift from that Peter guy.”
What was the best book you've ever received as a gift?
Tough question. Books about horror films from an adult friend of the family, most likely. A French woman recently gave me a nice book of photos of James Joyce with his family. She included a note that said in French: You deride him for dragging his family into squalor, but he dresses nicer than you do.
How do you organize your books?
Never.
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