Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Timothy G. Huguenin


Timothy G. Huguenin lives in the dark Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. He is the author of the Appalachian horror novels When the Watcher Shakes and Little One. His tghugueninshort fiction has appeared in various places including Hinnom Magazine, Beneath the Waves: Tales From the Deep, and Horror Tales Podcast. Timothy is an active member of the Horror Writers Association.

1) How old were you when you first discovered horror?

I was in middle school, I think, when my parents bought me a collection of Edgar Allan Poe stories for Christmas. I loved it! I still go back to Poe often. I get the feeling that he is more often talked about than actually read. His work is still unique and effective today.

2) Who is your favorite author? Who has influenced you?

If you judge this based on the most books I’ve read by any one horror writer, I suppose you would say Stephen King wins. I’m constantly amazed at his ability to make characters that I absolutely buy into. Even the ones who are mostly just exaggerated stereotypes are somehow still so lifelike and believable. This talent allows him to take the whackiest idea and turn it into a compelling story. However, over the last couple years, I’ve been turning more toward the weirder side of horror. Authors like Robert Aickman and Thomas Ligotti have been very influential on my recent writing. Lastly, I want to mention Michael Wehunt. I think his work is fabulous, and more people need to read Greener Pastures.

3) What inspired you to write your piece?

It happened and kinda freaked me out. My wife explained to me what was really going on, but it was a very strange experience when I didn’t understand it.

4) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

Generally speaking, I have a basic framework for how a character will react to things, and their personality and actions grow out of that as I write and continue to develop/get to know them. I try not to be too forceful. I am mostly a “pantser.” There is something about it, especially when the story is going smoothly and quickly, that feels as if the characters have their own will, even though I am the one creating them. I suppose it depends on how you define “free will.” Everyone’s will is limited to some degree by something. So “free” must always be relative, whether you are talking in terms of writing fiction or in terms of philosophy.

5) What did you learn from participating in the contest?

The contest forced me to try some things I normally wouldn’t do and write a few more things that I might not have written otherwise. One of the short stories I wrote for the contest was my first conscious attempt at pure cosmic horror (not a requirement for the prompt, btw, just how it turned out). It did not score well with the judges, but I consider it one of my best pieces. Agree to disagree, right?

6) Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

I probably could not do it again, at least in the foreseeable future. I just don’t have the time or the mental space for it. I have enough writing projects I need to focus on, as well as other things I need to work on in life, like work, school, and my marriage. I am not a good multitasker.

7) What is your favorite horror novel?

That is a tough one. Just off the top of my head, I’m going to say Revival by Stephen King. But Dracula really made a great impression on me. It often depends on the mood I am when I read something, and the environment. These things greatly shape our feelings toward a book, more than we probably realize. I read a great deal of Dracula in a small tent during a violent thunderstorm in the Cherokee National Forest. I’m not sure if I will feel the same way about it next time I read it. One of my favorite books of all time, which I have read many times and always loved, is 1984 by George Orwell. Few people would consider it a horror novel (especially those outside our little camp), but it captures that creeping sense of dread that I look for better than almost any other book that claims to be horror.

8) Favorite horror movie?

I’m not sure if it is my favorite or not, but I finally got around to watching Carnival of Souls and really loved it. Though I’m not sure it totally made sense.

9) Favorite horror television show?

NGHWEdPSmOK, maybe I’ll disappoint some people with this because there’s a lot of really better polished and very popular horror TV shows that have been made since then, but I really love The X Files, which wasn’t always horror but did have plenty of monsters.

10) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

You’ll probably see some more of my short fiction being published this year. I have a novel manuscript that I’m trying to find a good fit for. As far as works in progress, I am about 5,000 words into a new novel, but most of the writing I’ve done this year has been on a short story that turned into a novelette and may even keep growing to novella length. Not sure what’s going to happen with it. We’ll see.


You can find Timothy on TwitterFacebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.


#NGHW News: Interview with Contestant Timothy G Huguenin

Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

What do you love about horror?

Part of that has to do with the themes that can be dealt with in horror in a unique way, like death, the afterlife, the supernatural, evil, the darkness in human nature. It is true that I like to read and write horror to explore those themes, even though I don’t usually like stories that are simplistic and overly moralistic (I do love complex layers of meaning when you don’t notice until you really start mulling over the story after reading). I keep that answer ready for most people who ask because it’s easy to understand and package even if one isn’t really drawn to the horror aesthetic.

But honestly, I mostly like spooky, creepy books, for the same reason I like vanilla ice cream over chocolate, even though my dad thinks I’m crazy for it (chocolate rules in his house). I just, you know, like it (you remember the old Apple Jacks commercials?). My grandfather always says, “Everyone goes crazy different.” Some people like to read high fantasy. Some people like to watch Hallmark Christmas movies. Some very strange, disturbed souls think Florida Georgia Line plays good country music. I like to read books with a creeping sense of dread.

Okay, so maybe there might be something a little weird about that…

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?

My parents bought me a collection of stories by Edgar Allan Poe one year for Christmas. I think I was in middle school at the time, though I’m not certain. I’m not sure if that was the very first, but I do know that Poe was highly influential in my desire to write horror.

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?

I don’t necessarily limit myself to this, but I tend to set my stories in the Appalachian Mountains, where I have lived most of my life—West Virginia, in particular. I feel a deep connection to the area, and I often like to integrate its culture and myths into my fiction, as well as kind of be a creator of new Appalachian lore, if I can. So there is that about my work, that makes it a little more distinct. A bit of my fiction falls into pretty standard categories like haunted house or ghost stories, probably because that’s the kind of stuff you grow up hearing as a kid late around a campfire on a cool summer night in West Virginia. On the other hand, some other short stories I’ve been working on fall a little more into the realm of weird fiction, or if not that, than some other murkier category that is hard for me to pin down. I’ve written stuff with really twisted human villains, too. I don’t really gravitate toward monster fiction as much as the supernatural or weird. But I’m open to almost anything.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

I wish I could be one of those cool, rockin’ writers jamming to favorite tunes while cranking out novel after rad novel. Unfortunately, I find music too distracting. It’s hard enough sometimes to get the words to really flow even in complete silence. Even classical music makes it hard for me to write.

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

I like a lot of outdoor activities. I love to ski in the winter. I grew up next to two downhill ski resorts and did a lot of that in high school. Lately, I’ve gotten more into cross-country skiing. I’ve done some rock climbing, but I’m not really dedicated to it like most climbers are, so I’m not very good. I like to go backpacking, I like to fish, and even better if I can do both of those at once. I’ve run a couple ultramarathons, but over the last few years I’ve gotten out of shape, and I’m hoping to get back into trail running when the snow melts.

As a kid, I was interested in building and programming computers, and while I haven’t stayed current with that kind of thing these days, once in a while I’ll tinker around with installing different Linux distros on my Macbook.

What is your favourite part about writing?

When your characters really come alive, saying and doing things that take your story in a direction you didn’t expect, that is so cool. There are a few scenes in When the Watcher Shakes near the end (I would describe them but I don’t want to spoil anything), that just kind of happened, and I remember just stopping and thinking, This is really cool, I don’t even feel like I thought of this myself, it just happened on its own this way.

What is your favourite word?

I was a kid in the nineties, so I say “dude” a lot. I also get all warm and fuzzy inside when I hear the phrase, “Do you want some ice cream?”

What is your least favourite word?

“Irregardless.” It’s not changing or adding to the meaning of the word “regardless,” and it isn’t shorter or easier to say. It doesn’t even sound better. It’s just a wasted syllable that immediately compromises the speaker’s credibility.

Now, “dude.” That word makes you sound like a genius, dude.

What turns you on in a book?

Characters that feel like real people. Not just characters that are realistic. The ones that are real. You finish a book and you’re sad because you feel like you’re saying goodbye to friends you’ve known your whole life.

I’m also a sucker for terrible, depressing endings. Especially if an ending depresses or unsettles me in a new, creative way.

Why should people be on team Timothy?

Alliteration is always a good reason to follow someone, right? Listen peeps, join my fan club, and I’ll even let you say “Team Tim.” That’s quick and catchy enough to win over anyone, I’d reckon.

Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on!