(The estimated reading time for this is 5 minutes)
Horror can come in many shapes, sizes and forms. What scares you more than anything else?
The unknown is always scary. When we were kids, who wasn’t afraid of the monster crawling out from under your bed, or slipping out of your closet, to devour you after the covers had been tucked in and your mom had turned out the lights at night?
As you got older, eventually you started to understand that there really wasn’t a monster hiding under your bed. There were only dust bunnies and maybe a stray Playboy magazine or two, and neither of those was likely to clamber out from under there and chew your face off.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t monsters.
What strikes fear in me, what sends a creeping sense of disquiet through me whenever I think about it, is the knowledge that any of the seemingly normal strangers you encounter in a typical day—the guy who takes your money at the gas station, or the gray-haired old lady working at the fast-food restaurant to supplement her retirement income—could be a depraved psychotic with torture devices set up in the basement and a series of bodies buried in the back yard.
That thought is terrifying to me.
How did that creeping sense of disquiet play into the development of Milo Cain, the MR. MIDNIGHT killer Suspense Magazine calls “one of the most chilling villains in modern fiction”?
Milo Cain terrifies as a villain not just because—and maybe not even mostly because—of the horrific things he does to his victims. Milo Cain is so frightening because he could be our neighbor. He could be that guy you make small talk with at the corner drugstore.
Milo’s upbringing was relatively normal. He suffered some abuse as a child, unfortunate but nothing millions of children haven’t overcome to go on to lead healthy and productive lives. But somewhere along the line, Milo’s sense of right and wrong, and even his perception of his own humanity, began to warp.
Eventually it warps so badly he becomes a ghost-person, able to blend sufficiently into the landscape of humanity to remain invisible, unnoticed, but who moves among everyday human beings wreaking havoc, destroying lives, and doing it as casually as normal people change the channel on the television.
How did you avoid making Milo Cain too evil, to keep him from becoming just a cardboard villain?
Milo is not stupid. In fact, he’s not only cunning, he’s highly intelligent and extremely self-aware. He knows he is a bad guy, he knows he is not like everyone else, the normal people he passes every day who stare right through him as if he were not even there. He knows young mothers fear him instinctively, crossing the street with their children to avoid him without even understanding why.
Not only does he know it, he’s tortured by it. He wishes he could be normal but he’s not capable of it. He knows he’s a freak.
This self-awareness makes Milo someone every reader can relate to, even though you may not want to. Who hasn’t felt insignificant? Who hasn’t felt as though they didn’t fit in with the rest of the world? Who hasn’t felt invisible or monstrous or twisted?
Hell, most of us feel those kinds of emotions every single day. The difference is that at the end of the day, for most of us our innate goodness overwhelms the darkness inside. Milo Cain is incapable of feeling that goodness. He is consumed by the darkness.
But somewhere deep down, we can still relate, even if only a little bit, with this tortured man.
What about Cait Connelly? What was the inspiration for her character?
We’ve all known Type A, super-driven people. Most of the time, that personality trait is associated with men, but there are plenty of young, professional women with a lot of drive.
That’s how I wanted to portray Caitlyn Connelly. She’s thirty years old, a successful lawyer with a steady boyfriend, nice home, good income. She’s a genuinely good person with a nice, if anonymous, life.
But Cait isn’t without problems of her own. She suffers “Flickers,” quick little snippets of other people’s lives that flash through her head at seemingly random times. She’s been afflicted by them her whole life; she’s used to them.
But she wants to know why she has been blessed—or cursed—with this unusual ability. When she flies to Boston for a meeting with the birth mother who gave her up for adoption three decades ago, Cait finds herself in the middle of a situation nothing in her life could have prepared her for.
Cait seems almost too good to be true. Why did you make her so damned nice?
There are several themes running through MR. MIDNIGHT, but as is the case with most horror/dark fiction, the notion of good versus evil plays a critical role in the book.
I wanted to explore the question of whether it is possible for an evil to exist that is so strong, so all-encompassing, that even the brightest light of goodness would be snuffed out by it’s toxic force.
Cait represents that light. I didn’t want to write her as Mother Theresa, but she is the yin to Milo Cain’s yang. As evil as Milo is, Cait is equally good. By constructing her in that way, I hoped to make the final showdown inside a tiny little tract house in Revere, Massachusetts, as jarring and shocking as possible.
It’s up to you to determine whether or not I was successful.
Without giving too much away, it seems possible we could see Milo Cain again at some point. Are there any plans to bring him back?
MR. MIDNIGHT was edited by Greg Gifune, a terrific writer and an editor with unerring instincts about what works in the horror genre. The novel’s dramatic ending came about mostly as a result of his suggestions, and I’m eternally grateful to him for that.
I would be willing to explore what comes next for Milo Cain if the interest from readers was there. I’m not sure I could—or would want to—write a character any darker than Milo, but I do feel he could potentially wreak a lot more havoc, given half a chance…
Any final words before we wrap it up?
Absolutely. I’m thrilled to be a part of the DarkFuse family, and that includes the legions of DF readers who eagerly await every release and then devour them like Milo Cain on a killing frenzy. I’m privileged to have the chance to entertain you and I want you to know how much I appreciate you giving me that opportunity.
You’re the best; thank you!
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