An EXCLUSIVE interview with Nick Stead, Co-author of "The Complete History of the Howling"!
Turns out, there are other people in the world obsessed with werewolves just as much as myself, and The Howling fans will be happy to know that co-author of The Complete History of the Howling, Nick Stead, is one of those people…
…Born in Huddersfield, Nick Stead is an author who specializes in all things lycanthropic, aka, werewolves, the greatest movie monsters to ever tear their way through the silver screen.
Nick, who is a proud member of Huddersfield Author's Circle, is best known for his trilogy of books, Hybrid, about teen angst and the issues surrounding becoming a werewolf on a full moon, featuring plenty of raw horror and gore. The book has gone on to receive critical applause and won Stead a firm fan base, which has led him to co-author The Complete History of The Howling, which includes an all new story arc by the author known for rising above the one-dimensional tropes horror is often (wrongly) associated with.
The Complete History of the Howling is the first book to chronicle the making of all eight feature films in The Howling franchise, as well as taking an in-depth look at author Gary Brandner’s book trilogy which first appeared in 1977, containing interviews with members of each production, as well as never before seen behind the scenes photos.
KHC: You teamed up with Bryn Curt James Hammond on The Complete History of The Howling and overnight the name “Nick Stead” found its way onto every who’s who of horror websites. Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
NS: Well, I started writing at fifteen when I was still in high school but I always had a love of stories from a young age. It was my cousin, ‘Lady’ Sarah, who got me started with working on my own tales and of course my first story was always going to be a werewolf one. I’d say I grew up on fantasy more than horror but I’ve had a love for things with big teeth since I was little as well – monsters, dinosaurs, big predatory animals – if they had big fangs and claws, I was a fan. But wolves were my favorite and I think the reason I was so drawn to the werewolf legend was just this idea of being able to take on the form of a creature I was so in awe of, not to mention all that strength and power that comes with it – something that really appealed to a scrawny kid who was the victim of bullying!
I still love the fantasy genre and I do have plans for a dark fantasy novel, plus I’ve done a few short stories that are more in the way of dark fantasy than horror, but once I was old enough for horror movies that was it. I couldn’t get enough of everything creepy, chilling and dripping with blood, whether in print or on screen. So, when I got into writing that’s what I wanted to do – write my own horror stories. And it’s been my dream ever since I started that very first draft of “Hybrid” to make a name for myself within the genre, so seeing “Nick Stead” on all those big horror sites has meant the world to me.
KHC: You’re Hybrid series mirror’s Darren Shan’s Cirque Du Freak Saga and like Cirque Du Freak your protagonist is named after you. How different is your original story arc in The Complete History of The Howling?
NS: I have read both Darren Shan’s “Demonata” series and “Cirque Du Freak” saga so I guess there was some inspiration creeping in from there, and I have to admit the decision to keep the protagonist named after myself was because of Shan. I figured if he could do it, why couldn’t I? I would cite Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” as one of the main sources of inspiration for the first book though, having studied it for GCSE English Literature and really feeling a connection with that story and the character of the creature in particular. Plus, the first “Hybrid” is a much more personal story than most fans probably realize. A lot of the book mirrors my school life and I did struggle with depression in my teens just as my fictional self does. The reason I based it so heavily on my real life is to do with how my cousin got me writing it in the first place (long story), but what I really wanted to do with my werewolf character was to explore the impact the curse might have on a person and the changes they might go through, not just physically but psychologically as well. So, the focus of the first book is really the gradual changes the character goes through, though there is plenty of action in there as well, particularly in the second half.
Suffice to say my “Hybrid” series started off as my own personal werewolf fantasy. With my “Howling” story arc, on the other hand, I was aware I wasn’t really writing for me but for fans of the “Howling” movies, so I wanted to try and get the feel of the first movie (as that’s the one the story arc is based on) whilst still putting my own spin on it. My aim was to come up with something werewolf horror fans would love, and of course “Howling” fans specifically.
It was a different writing experience because I was playing in someone else’s world rather than my own, and I revisited the movie several times while I was drafting it to make sure my characters and the lore I was using fit. Plus, I’m used to writing British horror but “The Howling” is obviously set in America, so I tried to keep that in mind as I was writing. I even asked an American friend to take a look for me in case there was anything that didn’t fit a US setting.
My co-author, Bryn Hammond, gave me a specific word count for the story arc so that also meant there was only so much I could do in the number of words I had. My short stories tend to be very plot driven rather than character driven, and my “Howling” story arc is no exception. There would definitely be scope for character development if I were to do a longer version but I took the approach of treating it like a few extra scenes that could have worked as a short film following on from the first movie, so I would describe it as more of a visual piece rather than a narrative made up of the main character’s thoughts.
KHC: The Howling novel’s narrative concerns a young couple, Roy and Karyn Beatty who thought they had the all-American dream - until Karyn suffers a home invasion, a brutal sexual assault causing her to have a miscarriage. One relocation later she’s fighting werewolves trapped in a small rural town miles from anywhere. Where did you pick the story threads up? How did you pay homage to Gary Brandner?
NS: I have to admit, I’ve not actually read Gary Brandner’s novels (but they are on my to read list now!). When Bryn invited me on board “The Complete History of the Howling”, he suggested I do a story arc and gave me creative freedom to do what I wanted with it, as long as it was based on one of the movies. So, I went with the first movie as it’s my favorite and came up with an idea following on from just after where the film ends.
The idea really started with those last few scenes in the movie showing different people’s reactions to the news broadcast of Karen White turning into a werewolf and grew from there.
I would like to think Gary Brandner would have approved of my story arc if he was still with us. I look forward to reading his original “Howling” trilogy, just as soon as I get time to sit down and enjoy someone else’s work!
KHC: How would you best describe The Complete History of The Howling?
NS: I would say it’s a must have book for “Howling” fans. Bryn has worked so hard to bring us a wealth of information on the franchise and it’s packed full of awesome stills and behind the scenes photos from each of the movies. We’re both really happy with how the artwork for my story arc turned out as well.
The Complete History of The Howling hits stores November 7, 2018 worldwide. Get it early via Horror Con’s London, Liverpool September and Bristol November 10th events where Bryn Curt James Hammond is booked as a celebrity guest author.
The Complete History of The Howling will also be on a book tour in Las Vegas from October 23-27th. Bryn Curt James Hammond will be appearing at various venues as a celebrity guest author. The tour will include Sin City Halloween and parade with Nick Benson (The Abyss, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, The Blob and Tales from The Darkside: The Movie). Benson took part in The Complete History of the Howling and helped Bryn Curt James Hammond with pulling together cast and crew in the fourth chapter.
Follow The Complete History of the Howling on Twitter for updates!
By Matt Konopka
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