Today I have the wonderful authors of Picture The Dead, Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown! Their book, Picture the Dead, is a truly amazing book filled with a haunting story of love and loss and beautiful pictures drawn my Lisa herself, which adds so much to the story. Please welcome them and enjoy the interview!
Tell us a little about yourselves.
(Adele) I’m a small, sensitive, easily excitable person who has never really stopped believing that there are monsters under my bed.
(Lisa) I am very short. I am quiet until you get me talking. I am solemn until you get me laughing. I like to look at disembodied body parts in jars and taxidermied animals (I come from a family of doctors; we are not a squeamish people.) I drink unbelievable amounts of coffee. My favorite illustrator is Edward Gorey. I live in San Francisco, and I come from New England, so I am happy and surrounded by beauty all the time, but I feel guilty about it. I live in an old Victorian house with my husband and son and a parade of dead or dying goldfish.
How do you think you’d handle being haunted?
After I got over the initial horror, I would probably be deeply grateful to be haunted because it would bring me so many fantastic ideas for stories.
Believe it or not, fairly well. I am rarely surprised when unusual things happen to me, except when I am surprised that they do not happen often enough. A haunting would seem to fit that bill. On the other hand, I like to spend time alone, and having a ghost around one’s home would make that less possible.
What was the main inspiration for your book?
We were more inspired by each other’s wacky work, and wanted to do something collaborative.
There was this amazing exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2005: “The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult.” It was an exhibit of spirit photographs from the 19th and early 20th centuries; that is, photographs of ghosts. Adele and I were fairly obsessed with these pictures, and they were absolutely the primary inspiration for Picture the Dead.
(for lisa) How did you get into illustration?
There was no getting into it. I was just always drawing, from the time that I could first pick up a crayon. I had this professor in college who evaluated me based on the doodles that I had done in my notebook during class. I thought that he was angry with me, but it turned out that he just really, really liked my artwork.
I spent a handful of years pretending that I would be something else for a living: academic, magazine editor, graphic designer, but I finally gave up and became what I always wanted to be most of all.
If you could choose, what supernatural creature would you be?
I wouldn’t mind being a ghoul. I understand that ghouls are the scariest of the ghost kingdom, because of the whole living-in-burial-grounds, eating-flesh aspect. And if you have to be supernatural, be terrifyingly supernatural.
Oh, vampire, for sure. I am already quite pale, dislike the sun, and wouldn’t mind living forever. Besides, as I mentioned earlier, I have never been particularly squeamish. But I would miss melted cheese.
What do you think makes a perfect horror/fantasy novel?
I think it comes down to a mastery of pacing. The Shining is thirty years old, but show me a horror that can come close to the way Stephen King paces his horror. His is the master.
I always think that it comes down to the unknown. Things are far scarier when .
What’s one of your greatest Halloween memories?
Being nineteen years old, dressed up as a nun, speeding in a golf cart down the center of campus thinking: I will never be younger and sillier than I am now.
On a rainy Halloween night when I was a small child, walking up and down the hallways and floors of our apartment building in Queens, New York, knocking on every door. We didn’t even have to step outside, and it was a great haul.
What are some books you have recently read and/or recommend?
In YA I just read The Body Finder, Some Girls Are and Sea. In middle grade; The Girl Who Could Fly. In adult: Freedom, and next up The Peculiar Sadness of Lemon Cake. But it’s time to get my nonfiction motor revving…
This summer I loved “Welcome to the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan, “Citrus County” by John Brandon and “What Is Left the Daughter” by Howard Norman. And I just snuck off and read “Linger” by Maggie Stiefvater in close to one sitting. Now I’m starting a book called “Memoirs of a Sword Swallower.” Non-fiction.
Angel or Demon?
Angel with a Vendetta
(me: Love that they choose opposites XD)
Fangs or No Fangs?
Maybe one, well-placed fang
Fangs. Better for biting.
Ghosts: Believer or not?
All the way, every day, I Believe
Open to possibilities.
Alive or Undead?
OK, wait a minute. Undead as in sexy vampire, yes, but not as a decomposing zombie.
Thank you two so much for doing this interview! Is there anything else either of you would like to say?
Thank you for these fun and funky questions, sheer Saturday morning entertainment.
You are very welcome.