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"I Envy Actors" by Greg Chapman






I envy actors.

Their ability to conjure personalities into being is mesmerising and awe-inspiring.

It takes a lot of courage to get up on stage and screen and bear one’s soul – and at the same time create the souls of imaginary characters, which is probably why I took up writing instead of acting after I finished high school.

I gave it a good try; I scripted and performed my own Commedia dell'arte (the script was okay, but my acting was meh). Acting is hard; you have to be born to be a performer I feel, maybe even be a little crazy? I mean just look at some of those Hollywood celebrities! Still, acting resonated with me and after I became an author it wasn’t long before my appreciation of theatre and troubadours transformed into a story idea.

But I digress. My point is that actors are akin to magicians; they can have an insurmountable hold over the audience - which is why I chose to make them the villains in my latest horror novella, Vaudeville.

Chapman_Vaudeville_Press

Vaudeville centres on a young boy, named Anthony Moore. Anthony’s life is defined by the mysterious death of his father in the woods near their home. Declared a suicide, Anthony is desperate to know why his loving father would take his own life. The answer is held by vengeful demons that have lurked in the woods for more than 150 years, demons with a dark past on the stage.

If you want to know the power performers and actors can have, just look at how children react to them. Clowns, ventriloquist dummies and circus performers can scare the crap out of kids just by looking at them – I wanted to tap into that in my story and put Anthony and his friends in the scariest situation possible.

Vaudevillians were (and still are on some stages around the world) the pre-cursors to the circus freak shows of 20’s and 30’s. These were actors who revelled in the weird and the whimsical, with some acts including children, animals, minstrels and magicians. They were all about entertainment, with song, dance and lavish costumes.

Vaudeville arrived around the same time as the Civil War, which also features as a way of a backstory for the monsters in my tale. The two aspects seemed made for each other.

The performers in Vaudeville are the worst of the worst, their bodies cursed with the memory of their violent deaths and they’re quite happy to “perform” their murders over and over again in a grotesque fashion in order to seek redemption.

Despite the horror element, the story is also about change; how death can turn you into a different person, and how you have to find a way to move on from it. Anthony will have to put on his own little performance if he’s going to survive.

Vaudeville is my first “coming-of-age” horror tale and my third novella since 2011. Like my previous works, Torment and The Noctuary, children play a role in the story. I think this harks back to my own childhood fear of the dark, but I also remember being scared of clowns and people in costume, pretending to be something they’re not. We were all children once and hopefully Vaudeville will manage to tap into the reader’s own childhood fears.

Vaudeville will be published by Dark Prints Press as an e-book on July 20. For more information, visit www.darkprintpress.com.au

~~~~~~~~~~

  Greg Chapman is a horror author and artist from Australia. Damnation Books published his novellas Torment and The Noctuary in 2011 and his third, Vaudeville, was released by Dark Prints Press in July 2012. His first graphic novel, Witch-Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, written by Bram Stoker Award winners Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton, was also published by McFarland Publishers in 2012. He is currently working on his first novel. For more on Greg, visit www.darkscrybe.blogspot.com  

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