In the last couple of days two great interviews have hit the net. The first is a Weird Fiction Review interview with author Nathan Ballingrud, whose collection North American Lake Monsters is getting wide acclaim and is sitting next to my bed this very moment, probably making every other book in the room nervous. In the interview Nathan talks about his artistic goals, and lists a ton of favorite pieces of horror fiction.

With the stories in North American Lake Monsters, I wanted to write pieces that hurt. I wanted to write about people we’re conditioned to regard as contemptible, or dull, or even as villains, and get to their humanity. If I can get a reader to feel some empathy for somebody on the cusp of joining a white supremacy movement, or an ex-con who treats his own family with the same hostile suspicion he felt for other inmates, or a man who turns his back on his mentally ill wife, then I’ve succeeded in my intent. I have no interest in redeeming any of these characters, necessarily. But we live in a society that encourages us to view each other in simplistic and tribalistic terms, and that leads to an erosion of empathy, which is destructive to the human condition – to our ability to live successfully in an integrated society. It’s important that we look at people we think of as evil or irredeemable, and find the thing inside them that can still be loved. We’re doomed, if we can’t do that.

The second is Meghan McCarron interviewing Kelly Link for Gigantic Magazine. The talk about Kelly’s love for The Vampire Diaries, and pattern in stories, and Kelly’s forthcoming collection Get In Trouble. Click through for two of the most brilliant people I know riffing on what kinds of storytelling are exciting them these days. Also, Kelly’s favorite contemporary vampire stories!

I’m no longer watching television in which middle-aged men figure out how to be men. I’d rather watch shows about teenaged girls figuring out what it means to be a monster. I like coming-of-age stories, ghost stories, horror stories. I love stories about doppelgangers.