Paul Tremblay


"The bond between author and reader has always fascinated me. Without the reader's imagination, an author's words are dead in the dark. Only when you open their book do you make them come alive. It's like a spell. And you spread that magic because you talk about the book, post about it, or give it away to someone." - Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hex & Echo.

Our next author featured in our series is Paul Tremblay. I thought I'd leave it to a writer to explain why I am doing this series of author interviews and I couldn't have said it better than Thomas Olde Heuvelt above. 

You can order titles by Paul Tremblay on our website HERE (support indies). I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I did.  I am always pleasantly surprised by the Lightning Round.  

Stephanie Rose: Can you take us through your writing process for The Pallbearers Club?
Paul Tremblay: I spent a few months letting the initial spark/concept linger and had to do research on Mercy Brown as well. Once I got down to it, I took the notes I’d written and created a loose ten-page plot summary. Writing
the summary was partly a necessity as my publisher needed 30 pages and a summary to make an offer on the book as I was off deal.
I also spent too much time looking for a nice handwriting font for Mercy’s text.

SR: Where did this strange and unusual idea for The Pallbearers Club come from?

PT: The title and club concept fell into my lap in fall 2019. I work at a small high school and during one all-school assembly a senior announced he was starting a Pallbearers Club: members would volunteer at local funeral homes to serve elderly and homeless who don’t have many or any living relatives. I imagined
myself in high school doing such a thing, even though I never would’ve because I was too shy and nervous. I knew right away I was going to have an alternate-reality teenage me start this club in the fall of 1988. Hilarity and shenanigans ensue.
SR: Were there any alternative endings? In previous interviews I know you've mentioned relating to Art the most with a lot of shared experiences in high school and wishing you had a friend like Mercy. What about Mercy most appeals to you?

PT: No alternate endings. I generally have a rough idea of the ending for most of my books. In the case of this one, I knew what the last line would be, but had to figure out how to get there.

Just that Mercy would lavish attention on young Art, or, um, me. By the very act of hanging out with him meant that he (to Art, of course, and maybe me) was worthy of her friendship. And she had impeccable taste in music. In my own music timeline, I didn’t come to Husker Du and punk until late Freshman year in college.

Depending on the day, Art is 70-85% me and Mercy is the rest. She’s kind of my inner editor, inner critic of all I do, which believe me, I need most of the time.

SR: I know in a number of interviews you've mentioned you want readers to interpret this book as they may. I respect that but as the writer I'd love to know what you were thinking regarding the vampire folklore. It seemed as if everywhere Mercy went that Art was bad things happened. Is she his emotional vampire? A real one? What the hell happened at the end to Art?

Art is certainly claiming that Mercy is a kind of energy/emotional vampire and blames his various physical ailments and poor decisions on her. Mercy claims otherwise of course. 

Given that the book is a found memoir, I think it’s safe to say something has happened to Art, to make him go away.

I’ve written four novels with ambiguous supernatural elements, or ambiguity being part and parcel of the theme of the stories. I approached each one differently. For example, with A Head Full of Ghosts, I divorced myself from thinking there was a true answer as to whether something supernatural was going on. With Cabin I did a similar approach but allowed myself to make my own opinion on the happenings. With TPC, I wouldn’t dream of telling you my interpretation, but I do have one.

SR: Do you listen to any music when you write? If so what kind?

PT: I prefer silence. Or I used to prefer silence. I don’t really have a writing space with doors so I often need to block out noise (like the people in my house doing people things), and I do so with instrumental music, mainly movie soundtracks. Go-to’s include Ravenous (1999), The Blackcoat’s Daughter, The Witch, The Lighthouse, Saint Maud. I’ll also listen to unsettling Bartok string arrangements, Lustmord, and Swans.
SR: What is the best piece of life advice that you've received?

PT: Life advice? Don’t eat yellow snow. Solid, timeless advice, there.
SR: Can you tell us about your upcoming horror projects? Any other adaptations in the works?

PT: Next summer I have a short story collection coming out, and it features a novella/short novel called The Beast You Are, which will also be the title of the collection. The novella is an anthropomorphic animal story with a giant monster and a cat that’s a slasher and it’s written in free verse. Sure to be a best seller.

I’m about 80 pages into my next novel which, universe willing, will be out in 2024.

Adaptation-wise, A Head Full of Ghosts and Survivor Song are at various stages of development that could fall apart at a moment’s notice.

SR: Any recent books, films, shows, or podcasts you want to recommend to our readers?

PT: Books: Our Share of Night, Mariana Enriquez (coming 2/23). It’s now one of my favorite books. Ever. Corpsemouth and Other Autobiographies, John Langan. Nein, Nein, Nein: One Man’s Tale of Depression, Psychic Torment, and a Bus Tour of the Holocaust, Jerry Stahl. Invisible Things, Mat Johnson.

Films: Nope and Prey.

Lighting Round:

SR: What is your favorite word?
PT: Dowse.

SR: What is your least favorite word?
PT: Pacing.

SR: What is your favorite scary movie?
PT: The Thing

SR: What is your favorite horror book?
PT: House of Leaves.

SR: What sound or noise do you love?
PT: Sound of a basketball going through the net without hitting the rim.

SR: What sound or noise do you hate?
PT: Jimmy Buffet.
SR: What is your favorite curse word?
PT: Asshole.

SR: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
PT: Sports writing.

SR: What profession would you not like to do?
PT: Finance.

SR: What is your favorite fall/spooky activity to do?
PT: Read creepy books and watch creepy movies.

SR: If you knew you were going to die and only had a chance to read one more book what would it be?
PT: Yikes, that’s dark. Says the horror writer.

It would be a re-read of a long book. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski, or Roberto Bolano’s 2666.

SR: You plan a movie night and can watch one movie with any one writer. What writer and what movie do you choose?

PT: Stephen King. He and I will Lake Mungo because I bet he hasn’t seen it.

SR: What author, dead or alive, would you want to spend a night in a haunted house with?

PT: Shirley Jackson. She’d keep me in stitches most of the evening, I think.



About Paul Tremblay
PAUL TREMBLAY has won the Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and Massachusetts Book awards and is the author of Survivor Song, The Cabin at the End of the World, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, A Head Full of Ghosts, the crime novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland, and the short story collection, Growing Things and Other Stories.

His essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Entertainment Weekly online, and numerous year’s-best anthologies. He has a master’s degree in mathematics and lives outside Boston with his family.