David Saunderson is the editor of ‘Dracula’s Midnight Snacks‘ and managing editor of popular website ‘The Spooky Isles‘.
Tell us something about David Saunderson. When did you decide to live in London and why?
I moved to London in 2011 from Australia for a change. I’m a dual citizen and I have always felt very British, so living in the capital seemed like the ideal thing for me to do. When I was here a while, I decided to launch ‘The Spooky Isles’, as an outlet to describe the adventures I was having in the UK, visiting spooky and historic places. It also gave me an avenue to indulge my childhood passion for horror films.
The Spooky Isles is a little more than just a personal blog though – it has attracted a huge following.
Well, yes. Besides being a journalist, I’ve also got qualifications in public relations and marketing, particularly digital marketing. I knew the only way the site would grow was if I got more people involved. And so I invited people to write for ‘The Spooky Isles’ and I’ve had so many people, like me, who love ghosts and horror and want to write about it. It’s allowed me to learn more about the people and places in the UK than I ever could have done writing it myself.
Why are you so interested in horror and the paranormal?
That’s a bit like asking why someone prefers a fizzy drink as opposed to water. Sure water is safer, but it’s bland. Horror and the paranormal is the fizz of life. I’ve always been interested in the paranormal. When I was a little kid and my mum would go to the library, she would bring me back dinosaur books and sometimes ghost ones. I think all kids like monsters; it’s just some of us don’t grow up.
What kind of people does ‘The Spooky Isles’ appeal to?
We have a broad readership but if you wanted to break it down, generally the paranormal side is mostly women and the horror film side is mostly men. It’s certainly not black and white but for some reason, I get more women wanting to write about ghosts than men. Maybe it is the whole thing with ghosts now being seen as romantic figures.
What do you mean, ghosts are ‘romantic figures’?
Well, we now have the current fashion of sympathetic vampires. All the vampire films at the moment have them. The trend began with the likes of ‘Interview with the Vampire’, and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ by Francis Ford Coppola and has continued all the way through to ‘Twilight’. The characters have back-stories, they have been wronged by love and there has to be a reason why they are blood-sucking monsters. Traditionally, British ghosts all have backstories. They are the victim of being wronged somehow – all those Grey Ladies, wringing their hands and moping are tragic figures. Headless ghosts were executed for something, usually something never as bad as them being executed. There appears to a trend where the ‘horror’ is being taken out of mainstream horror.
What do you think is the reason for the current popularity of gothic horror?
Well, now it is more likely to be directed at those who want gothic romantic horror. You can’t argue that any of the recent vampire tales are that horrific. Their success has been based on men the teenage girls think are cute. Movie producers have cleverly taken gothic horror and inserted it into the teenage market place. To me, that’s a bit boring but people, that is teenage girls, like it, so good for them.
Do you think that the popularity of this vampire fiction and drama will continue?
Horror has always tended to go in cycles, as with most popular genres. Mainstream horror was huge in the 1930s especially the Universal movies but it died out in the mid 40s. Again, Hammer was massive from the late 1950s to the 1970s. I don’t know if films like ‘Twilight’ will continue but you can be assured that main-steam horror will rise again sometime.
Do you have a favourite horror writer and who is it? Do you have a favourite horror movie?
I am more into non-fiction horror writers than fiction writers. Of course, I love Dracula, Frankenstein etc but I get more excited about books by Peter Underwood, Alan Frank, David Pirie, etc. I like to read a lot of stuff about British and Irish folklore. My favourite horror movie is probably ‘An American Werewolf in London’ but I absolutely love anything with Boris Karloff in it.
Have you had any experiences that confirm to you the existence of the paranormal?
No, I am a brick when it comes to being sensitive to paranormal stuff. I enjoy ghost stories and hearing about other people’s experiences. I really want to experience something spooky but it hasn’t happened yet.
What made you want to edit ‘Dracula’s Midnight Snacks’ for Red Rattle Books?
I love vampires and I wanted to read some vampire stories that weren’t influenced by Mills and Boon. Vampires can be anything you want them to be, but to me, I wanted to explore the pitiful serial killer, that is doomed for eternity to drink the blood of the living. I don’t see them as romantic figures or even good guys.
Are you pleased with the book?
Yes I am. I am pleased that we have been able to produce a brand new collection and encourage new writers. I know we have avoided the Mills and Boon influence. I also wanted material that extended the genre without softening it. The stories are a mix and feature vampires in all kinds of places but there is always horror and dreadful behaviour and that keeps me happy.