Joe Chianakas has found some of the dueling elements in horror film and brought them over to written page with Rabbit in Red. The story has found a unique way to engage horror readers by making all of the characters horror fans.
Be sure to check out the Kindle book that inspired the website below.
What is especially unique about Chianakas’ Rabbit in Red is that he took to the time to find some way for the story to mirror reality, in part.
I got a chance to speak with Joe Chianakas about his latest novel and he gave me some insight into what the novel is about and why horror fans would love to read it.
Nick Younker (FJ Press): Your latest novel, Rabbit in Red, gives horror fans a real chance to go back and relive some classic horror films. But instead of putting the cart in front of the horse, you take the time to develop a backstory for one of your characters, Bill. With the nuances of turning this novel into its title theme, did you find that you had to really keep the focus on one or two main characters instead of just putting out an ensemble?
Joe Chianakas: Yes, Rabbit in Red is really Bill’s story. He’s haunted by a tragedy in his past and he turns to horror films both to escape from the reality and to search for the answer to the ultimate question: why do bad things happen to good people? As his story progresses, we learn about several other characters, too. Pretty much every contestant in this “Rabbit in Red” contest has a dark past. Coincidence? Or did JB, the man pulling the strings at Rabbit in Red, intentionally recruit such individuals?
Nick Younker (FJ Press): Is this book supposed to pay homage to classic horror films and further their impact in some way, given what the title theme is about in the novel?
Joe Chianakas: Initially, this book was my love letter to horror. I grew up devouring every scary movie and creepy book I could find. It’s a tribute to the genre, and I wrote the book in hopes that other horror fans like me would find a story that not only celebrates their love of horror but enhances it—makes them want to go back and re-watch all of their favorites as well as explore new titles.
Nick Younker (FJ Press): Your title theme, Rabbit in Red, is basically a competition for aspiring filmmakers who want to carve out a niche in their field. Your main character(s) are also passionate about what they want to create, or at least how they want to leave their mark in the creative industry. Is this competition something that you yourself would have like to have seen in real life for artists in horror entertainment?
Joe Chianakas: With all the reality shows that exist today, I can’t say that this is an impossible idea… but no, I never thought this would happen in reality. The competition is a fantasy. Write the story you would want to read, people say. It’s not enough to just say “horror is cool.” I was compelled to pay tribute to it in a fantastical way—something that would be very difficult to match in reality. Just wait till the second volume!
Nick Younker (FJ Press): The monster, or the bad guy so to speak, is more of a bad guy by circumstance, in a weird sort of way. Is this something in your novel that you might have been using to try and mirror reality?
Joe Chianakas: The scariest monsters are the ones inside ourselves. There are multiple bad guys here, and others who readers should question: is this guy good or bad? There are some twisted, messed up things that happen, but at the core of those twisted things is a mirror, a chance to reflect on our own inner monsters.
Nick Younker (FJ Press): I found it interesting that you use a lot of neo-classic horror from the 1980s to boost this competition. You really seemed to try and stay away from the original classic horror cinema, with such horror hits as Bela Lugosi’s Dracula or Phantom of the Opera. Are you trying to portray the Rabbit in Red studio as more of a gore or exploitation type of studio that likes to glorify the unedited, raw, visceral moments in horror film from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s?
Joe Chianakas: Choosing the horror elements to celebrate or critique was a difficult choice. How far back to I go? How modern should I be? As this is a trilogy, the other two books have given me room to glorify many others not mentioned in book one. If I’m being honest, the book celebrated my favorites, plain and simple. Growing up in the ‘80s, I enjoyed nothing more than going to that video store over the weekend, browsing the horror section, and begging mom to rent me a half-dozen VHS tapes. When I outlined this book, I asked myself: what are my favorites? What would I love to re-enact or change? Also, as much as the story is a celebration of the genre, I wanted it to be the kind of tale where you could plug in any movie to make the competition work. For example, if this were ever made into a film, we could celebrate Dracula as much as The Conjuring 2, given that we could get the rights to show those stories on film. The specific ones we celebrate are the frosting on the cake—that can be changed for anyone’s taste. The real flavor of the story is the group of teens, with tragic and/or secretive pasts, that are here to become a part of the industry they love.
Nick Younker (FJ Press): Without giving too much away for your readers, can you tell us little bit more about where the true horror in this story lies, outside of the faux parameters set forth in the studio competition?
Joe Chianakas: There are two horrors, really. One is about overcoming one’s greatest fears. The other is about how far one would go to get what they want. To me, those two things are at the core of being human.
Nick Younker (FJ Press): I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. Is there anything else you can tell us about Rabbit in Red that your readers might like to know about?
Joe Chianakas: Thank you for the interview. I’ll throw out the usual: I’m on Facebook at www.fb.com/chianakas and online at www.joechianakas.com. Book two in the Rabbit in Red series comes out this September; book one is available now online or can be requested at any bookstore. One more thing (cross your fingers): if all goes well, by the end of this week, I’ll be announcing the biggest/coolest news of my entire writing career. Not allowed to say publicly yet, but check my pages late this week or maybe next week for that update!
[Image via Joe Chianakas]