Quick Fire At The Slaughterhouse: Interview With Jack Ketchum

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Jack Ketchum needs little introduction, he is an author who has arguably redefined horror. Jack has a new novel out, ‘The Woman’ which he co-wrote with Lucky McKee. It is a primal novel that explores the line between law and the forces it tries to contain. Jack met me at The Slaughterhouse where we talked about his new release and the role of the primitive within horror fiction.

Tell us about The Woman.

TheWoman300x188 photo the-woman-book-cover_zps7d1ef6f8.jpgI wrote THE WOMAN with filmmaker Lucky McKee. We’d seen Pollyanna McIntosh’s ferocious performance in OFFSPRING and decided she needed a film all to herself, so we decided to do both screenplay and book at the same time, with Lucky doing the heavy lifting on the script and me doing it on the novel, going back and forth with pages on both. I’d killed her character off in my screenplay for OFFSPRING but Polly was so good that the director, Andrew Van den Houten, wouldn’t let her die, and I’m glad of his decision. She’s the last of a tribe of cannibals along the coast of Maine and she’s wounded. One day a shady country lawyer’s out hunting. He sees her, comes back and captures her and introduces her to his family by chaining her up in the root cellar. He figures it will be very interesting to tame her. The question then becomes who’s worse? This feral woman or this “civilized” gentleman? And how does his family take it? His wife, teenage son and daughter and his little girl?

To what extent do you think fear of the primal or the primitive evokes that thing called horror and why?

The primal’s very horrific. For two reasons. First, there’s the “otherness” of someone or something that appears utterly untamed and is thus wholly unpredictable. Ever see a wolf up close and personal? Those beautiful, scary eyes? But maybe more importantly, there’s the deep down recognition that without scruples, ethics, the “laws” of civilization, we might just go the same way ourselves — and like it. We’re horrified at what men and women are capable of doing when let off the leash. And rightly so.

You have said that your love for Elvis helped you through your formative years, have you ever thought of incorporating him into one of your fictions?

He already got a mention in my novel THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. But I think BUBBA HO-TEP pretty much said it all.

What else is on the cards for you this year?

A collection of essays on other people’s writing and a book of poetry. I’m working my way down the ladder of financial success, see? That’s the plan. But I’m having fun. After that I’ll try to pull myself up by my own bootstraps again with a new book of stories and maybe next year, a novel.

Thanks Jack for a great interview.

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Jack Ketchum photo © Steve Thornton


Find everything Jack Ketchum at his website: all his novels, novels adapted to film, awards, social media links, the whole nine.

Pick up a copy of The Woman at Amazon US and UK or see Goodreads for other online stores.

All editions and covers for The Woman are here.

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6 Responses to Quick Fire At The Slaughterhouse: Interview With Jack Ketchum

  1. AJ Hayes says:

    All you have to say to make me laugh out loud is “Bubba Ho-Tep.” A classic that no one else has equalled. I agree, The Other is somehow, primally scary to us. As is the true nature of the beast we sense is lurking, barely visible, at the very edge of our safe and cozy world.
    The Woman is firmly in my sights. Its theme reminds me a bit of the movie, Let Me In. So, as I said, I’m in.

  2. I’ve read several novels by Jack Ketchum, and I must say, no other author’s horror fiction scared me more! Richard, thanks for interviewing this excellent author.

  3. Les Edgerton says:

    Another terrific interview, Richard! Can’t wait to read this one–Mr. Ketchum’s work is without fail, absolutely terrific!

  4. Angelabsurdist says:

    “The Otherness.” I’ve often wondered if it is also about the “unusual side” of human nature. Or is the “Other” really the unacknowledged side of ourselves? Many of Jack Ketchum’s stories stay with me for days. I am always learning something new when I read his work. Thank you for an excellent interview.

  5. Steven Gibson says:

    Thank You For The Super Great Interview With Jack Ketchum.I Have Read Quite a Bit Of Jack Ketchums Books.”One Of The Best In His Field.” The Woman Is a Great Horror Book. Thanks Richard For The Interview,and Thank You Jack Ketchum For Years Of Reading,Movies,and i Appreciated Your Books. Steven Gibson.

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