Jack Ketchum is in the middle of a Blog tour to promote his new book I’M NOT SAM (co-written with Lucky McKee). Monday saw him at LitReactor. Yesterday took him to Mary SanGiovanni’s website. Today, he’s here to talk to my readers. Jack Ketchum is one of my favorite writers but he’s also been a dear friend and mentor to me for over 15 years. Indeed, we’re it not for his efforts and those of Richard Laymon, I would have never sold my first novel, The Rising, and you and I would not be here together right now. So pull up a bar stool and listen to what the man has to say.
THAT THING IN THE WATER
By Jack Ketchum
I’m often asked, “what really scares you?” And my answer is usually something along the lines of you do. Meaning that I have no idea, really, what you’re capable of, and that I’m fully aware that beneath that placid exterior or shit-eating grin you might be the kind of guy who keeps a six-year-old tied up in your basement.
But there’s also the terrible unexpected.
I was walking down Broadway one sunny spring afternoon on my way home from Love Cosmetics or Gartner’s Hardware or somewhere and I’d just stepped up over the curb onto the sidewalk at 70th Street when an entire chest of drawers hit the sidewalk three feet in front of me. It sort of bounced once and then toppled over on its side like a king on a chessboard in checkmate. Only a fuck of a lot bigger.
A nice wooden chest of drawers. Ever fire a shotgun? It sounded a little like that.
Turned out it came from three floors above me. Some movers were working in an apartment with a floor-length window and somebody backed into the thing. It had done a three-sixty roll in mid-air and landed on its feet.
I nearly lost mine.
Know what? Your legs really can turn to jelly. Your heart really can skip a beat.
A couple of beats.
One more step and you wouldn’t be reading this, folks.
Was I scared? Fuck, yes. And was I mad? You haven’t seen mad.
They say there’s never a cop around when you need one but I guess I got lucky because I turned around to head for 72nd Street, my best bet to find one — and a squad car materialized right across from the subway station. I told them what happened and they drove over and shut the whole operation down right away. I calmed down and walked home and went about my business.
But was I disturbed? Hell, yes. Disturbed by definition. I felt interfered with. Intruded upon.
My easy-going day had damn near been my last one.
It’s a sobering experience, the kind some of you may have had under other circumstances. Here’s a piece from I’M NOT SAM, edited slightly so as not to give too much away.
“I’m halfway through my first beer when I see the snake.
The beer hits the deck and I’m up on my feet with the rake in my hands and it’s coming toward her, its body a black undulating streak in the water behind a raised head as it rises over a drifting branch and she doesn’t see it, doesn’t even know it’s there and I’m yelling Get out of the water! Get out of the water NOW! and she hears the panic in my voice and looks confused but starts swimming anyway, Sam’s powerful stroke, yet the damn thing’s gaining on her, no more than ten feet away.”
The terrible unexpected. In a river, on a corner in New York City.
UNRELATED QUESTION: What’s the story with this “the last girl standing” all the time? THE EVIL DEAD aside, why can’t we have a storyline with the last guy standing once in a while? Why should it always be Sigourney Weaver? A lot of us fellas are sensitive and smart too, y’know? We could save Jonesy.
I’M NOT SAM by Jack Ketchum & Lucky McKee can be purchased from Cemetery Dance and Sinister Grin Press. For more info about the author, please visit his website or follow him on Twitter. Check out our contest giveaway!
And here’s our I’M NOT SAM 2012 Blog Tour Schedule. Have fun!
Tour Stop 1: 9/10 at LitReactor
Tour Stop 2: 9/11 at Mary SanGiovanni
Tour Stop 3: 9/12 at Brian Keene
Tour Stop 4: 9/13 at Bookgasm
Tour Stop 5: 9/14 at Tom Piccirilli