Modern Mythmakers: 35 Interviews with Horror & Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers by Michael McCarty is a must have for genre fans. It’s a peak inside the brain of several great minds in the world of horror and science fiction. The best part about it is it has conversations with people who are no longer with us, such as Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Dan Curtis, Forrest Ackerman and others. It’s an opportunity to find out what the greats have to say about their profession.
One of my favorite moments in this book was the introduction by Alan Dean Foster. He says if life is getting you down society says to gulp down a handful of pills. Instead you will find it better if you listen to the words of the people interviewed in this book. You will feel better, stimulate your brain and become addicted to their work without the use of a narcotic. Mr. Foster is right because what’s in this book are the words of people who are passionate about what they do and you can learn from them, you just have to keep your mind open.
One interview I enjoyed was with Dark Shadow’s creator Dan Curtis. Dan gets into how he made the Zuni Fetish Doll chase Karen Black in the made for TV classic Trilogy of Terror. I found it fascinating how much work went into pulling that off, but what I liked even more is when he mentions why so many horror films stink. He talks about how people making horror films think they can do anything but they can’t because if an idea is too illogical the audience won’t be scared, they have to believe it’s possible. Dan Curtis knew how to make a good horror story and I liked reading his opinions here.
Another interview that stuck out for me was with Science Fiction author Frederik Pohl. At the time of this interview I imagine he must have been in his eighties. He has seen a lot of changes in the world of literature and he never stopped doing what he loved even when he having health issues. I love that he mentions at his age he is still trying to figure out the cosmos and how society works and changes. He even gets into all of the scientific breakthroughs that were predicted in Science Fiction. Pohl is only one of the great minds you hear from in this book and one idea he gives on writing is that the hardest part of it is sitting down and making yourself say on paper what needs to be said.
While you may not like every interview in this book it’s still a good read if you love hearing from creative people. For instance there is a wealth of information for anyone who wants to be a writer. I love reading interviews with writers along with finding out what makes them tick. I also loved that Michael asks each one: What advice would you give to a new writer? All of their responses were a little different but they all seem to agree that you always have to keep writing and write what’s in your heart, not what will make others happy. As Ray Bradbury puts it: “Write what you love, it doesn’t matter what others love.” Good advice from the masters, do what you love.