Uncomfortably Dark Presents:
The Rusty Chair in the Corner
Watch this page for the best author interviews, special features and new horror news!
This week in "The Rusty Chair", we are showcasing author Paul Carro and his newest novel"Roots of All Evil".
Did you miss an installment? Check the Archive page!
May 29, 2021:
Meet Paul Carro
Author of "The House" and "Roots of All Evil".
Thanks for joining me in my Rusty Chair. It’s been a while since our last chat. How’s life treating you? Out in LA, right?
Paul: Hi Candace. Great to talk to you! You might want to invest in some more comfortable furniture. Maybe some Ikea? (You know horror authors are collectively going to drive the jokes into the ground on this, right?) Yes, LA for quite some time. I grew up in Maine, made a post college stopover in Seattle then settled in LA and have never looked back.
Candace: Ha! I know, I really do need a trip to Horrorstor or um, Ikea. Yes, probably Ikea. Great to hear from you. I’m glad it’s going well….So you have a long career behind you in Tv and movies- what was that like?
Paul: Frustrating and rewarding. I think I have more sold but unproduced projects than anyone in Hollywood, but I am sure there are others who would argue that with me. Movies can take forever to be made if at all, which is strange when one collects a paycheck then does not see the results for years or a decade or more. I finally moved into reality TV at one point, and it felt great that what you worked on this week was on the air the following week. My time in this arena was not all writing. I did plenty of camera work, editing, lighting, and producing along the way. Whatever paid the bills as it were.
Like many things it is highs and lows which is why I also decided to move into novel writing. I can get the stories I wish out into the public in a timely manner and then can allow the slow movie process to follow without as much care if I am lucky enough to get the books set up with a producer somewhere. While that stuff is being negotiated, I am already onto the next book. I wish I had started writing novels sooner.
Candace: I can see how that would be frustrating, especially in today’s world of instant gratification. Reality TV sounds like an interesting venture as well. Did you have a favorite show or movie that you really enjoyed being a part of?
Paul: The first movie I ever sold was called Penance and it led to my first round of studio tours and meetings with invites to red carpet premieres and such. I think nothing matched the excitement that came with that time period, the purity of it all and my total ignorance of how things worked so I got to just have fun and enjoy the ride.
As I mentioned above however, I sold that one in the late nineties and it still has not been made. I get updates from time to time and whispers that something might be happening but that is the warning, you need to cherish a project but also need to move onto the next one.
Candace: Wow, so not always as glamorous as the tabloids make it seem. That is a good warning for others to heed. I do tend to get attached to projects, so that’s really good advice that I’ll have to remember. I’m sure you have lots of tales to tell about the industry but for tonight, let's get into writing. What made you want to become a writer and when did you first begin writing professionally?
Paul: I was in a weird position that I learned to read prior to kindergarten. Not certain how, mostly Sesame Street I imagine. But once that started, I could not read enough. I’m not lying that I would read the backs of cereal boxes at breakfast because I was obsessed with the written word. I used handheld video games as a light source to stay up at night and read rather than play the game. I loved reading and books from day one and have never stopped being passionate about it.
I was published in fifth grade (non-horror) in an anthology of otherwise adult writers from Maine. After that, I took a long break and went into the production side, starting with camera work on PBS and then into commercial productions. I would say my first screenplay sale in the 90’s made it all official. But book wise, that journey has only recently started, in 2018.
Candace: I see. I started reading really early also, and I also read the cereal boxes, and the back of any mix, or bread, or shampoo bottles, while I showered. LOL. So, why did you choose to write horror as a genre?
Paul: Same reason as the last question. Because I was so voracious a reader and had limited time, which meant short stories were my jam. My Dad handed me down his comic books but I burned through those quickly, I would get what I could find for cheap at yard sales. (Scoring a Conan the Barbarian #1 for .10! once!) Dad watched cool monster movies and all the Harryhausen stuff, so I liked that horror adjacency. Then, at a yard sale, I discovered some Eerie and Creepy magazines. They looked like bigger comic books and technically were, but holy shit were they scary!
There is the term ‘freezer book.’ My older sister started to read Koontz and she would put Phantoms in the freezer because it terrified her so much. The magazines I mentioned were my freezer comic books. There were images I was too young to handle so I would hide them away and pull them out when I felt brave enough to revisit them. I have watched every horror movie possible and read everything I could since an incredibly young age (I’d say by fifth grade I was all in.). My love has never waned into adulthood, I never took a time off period from horror reading and watching. It is my favorite genre and always has been.
Candace: That’s an awesome answer. I think I had gotten into horror around fifth grade. My dad loved scary movies and sci-fi and with one TV in the house, we watched what Dad watched. John Carpenter’s “The Thing” hooked me on horror and I never looked back. As I grew up, I did branch out into romance, mysteries, some drama but I loved fantasy and superhero type of stories, which brings me to my next question. You also have a young adult superhero series about Nolan Walker, tell us a little about that series and where do you see it going?
Paul: Thanks for mentioning this. The book starts with “This Nolan” where we see this kid who is a superhero fighting against a terrifying foe. The battle does not end well for him, by the end his super hearing can no longer pick up the beating of his own heart. We then cut to our time and world to visit “This Nolan.”
He looks identical but is a normal skateboarding, video gamer kid here, except his mom is dying of cancer. Well, these strange dudes arrive and tell him they can cure her, but he will need to go with them. He complies and is taken to another dimension.
This other world has only teens as superheroes and it was Superior Lad who kept them from being the world’s worst jackasses. He helped them assemble as heroes. When Superior Lad dies, they bring the other Nolan over to pretend to be the fallen hero to keep the peace and fill the leadership void. Now Nolan must navigate his teen years pretending he has powers and living in a world where the cultural touchstones are so different. He is a Star Wars geek, but Star Wars does not exist there, nor do superhero comics. Oh, and his childhood crush back home is five years older in the new dimension. Poor Nolan!
It could go on forever, stories involving this kid, but I have a trilogy in mind. It is taking a backseat for now while I get my horror on, but I have had meetings with producers on a possible movie adaptation.
Candace: That sounds awesome! I’m going to have to introduce my son to Nolan. He would really enjoy that storyline. I’m really excited to see the many adventures that you create for Nolan. So, getting back to horror. The first novel I read of yours was “The House” which I really enjoyed reading. What was your idea or original concept for “The House”?
Paul: Thank you. I urge writers to read Mile 81 from Stephen King. It is a lesson in riding out a concept. Once you have that concept, you need to treat it seriously and follow through on what would occur. So even if it is a mud-covered station wagon that eats people, like in his story, it is treated as real as a biography.
That is how I feel about my writing. I am a journalist, and I capture a story that truly happened, no matter how strange. What would it be like if this event occurred IRL? In the case of “The House”, it began with that image of the kids playing in a field like they always do but then one day this massive house appears. What is it? What is going on? Once that started, I simply documented the course of events.
Sequels for me will be way off as I have so many stories to write but I loved these characters and have great plans for a sequel and prequel which will answer more details about what “The House” truly is. You have not heard the last of Charlie “Thunder” Raines and crew.
Candace: That would be incredible. I’ll be looking forward to those books coming out. So where or how did inspiration strike for your new novel, “ Roots of All Evil”?
Paul: This was pandemic driven. I have a super creepy, scary novel called The Salem Legacy coming out, but as we all went into lockdown, I envisioned a glut of horror where we see so many tales of dystopia and pandemics. Don’t get me wrong, I love that stuff too, but at the same time I felt like looking at it in a different way. So I pushed Salem Legacy back and wrote Roots of All Evil. There is a body count in this book and there are grotesque monsters and Lovecraft adjacent otherworldly beings, but at its heart, I felt this was what I call: Hopeful Horror.
What happens when a family is in a much different lockdown situation? (I do not want to give spoilers.) And what if they are battling what I consider physical versions of a virus? Some will succumb, some will be lost, but maybe, just maybe some might survive the damn thing.
Much has been made of my opening line in The House. I am as proud as the closing line in Roots of All Evil. I hope it leaves people feeling uplifted. We could use that right now.
Candace: I agree. It has certainly been a trying time for us all. A little hope and a little uplifting can go a long way. Alright, so let’s continue with inspiration. Let’s go deeper into who Paul Carro is, what makes you tick? What most inspires your ideas for your stories, real-life, bits of dreams or something else?
Paul: I love nightmares! Love them if they are about monsters (not personal loss, etc.). I can control my dreams and I always beat the baddies. But no, some story beats might come to me in dreams, but I do not find my stories there.
I have always been a runner and walker and hiker. It is there where ideas strike me regularly. There is something about being outdoors and in new environments that spark ideas. I will never be able to write all my planned novels in my lifetime so part of me would be okay if that idea machine took a rest, decided to turn off for a hot minute, but no they keep coming. Super cool ones might jump the line a little but for now my next six in a row are planned out and we will see which are next after those.
That is the mechanics of idea gathering, but what inspires me is examining the human condition when faced with the most unique adversities imaginable. I believe the best of those situations exist in the realm of horror. Mostly, I author books I would love to read that just aren’t out there yet. I also love to scare and there is one story in the upcoming anthology that genuinely scares me every time I read it. I can’t wait to see people react to that type of scare in my work. I hope it gets them good, that one. The thought of providing that scare inspires me for sure.
Candace: Nightmares had a huge impact on my writing, but I can understand nature being an excellent catalyst for ideas too. Fresh air, blood circulating, the mind tends to wander more freely when outside. I’ve often gotten ideas while hiking or looking out across a lake just as the sun sets. So how about human inspiration, who do you draw from? Which author has most inspired or impacted your writing style, alive or dead? and why do you think they impacted you so much?
Paul: Ray Bradbury for sure. As I mentioned, I was a creature of short stories and he was so prolific. I must believe he inspired even Stephen King. I know he inspired many. Each story was so different and like Mile 81 that I mentioned earlier, Bradbury committed to the bit as comedians might say. To grow up in a small town and have access to other places and worlds and situations was freeing for someone of exceptionally limited means. His stories were the passport which allowed you to travel anywhere. They also cracked open my imagination so I could imagine things greater than any I ever had prior to reading his work. Drugs were never my thing (I don’t judge, knock yourself out) but absent that, writers like Bradbury were the way to open minds in a similar manner. His stories are timeless and fantastic.
Candace: Bradbury is amazing. He was one of my favorites as well. It’s interesting how similar you and I are in our writing inspirations and beginnings. So, here’s a fun question, name your top 3 most admired horror authors and/or novels and explain why?
Paul: Stephen King for some specific local reasons. As I mentioned earlier, I was published when my teacher submitted a story I wrote to a publisher. (Mine was not horror, nor was the theme of the anthology, it simply was authors from Maine.) It made it into an anthology of Maine Authors. Sadly, when the book came out, there were no free copies. My family was too poor to buy the overpriced hardback, but my library bought a copy, so I at least got to see myself in print and check out the book. The only author I recognized was one Stephen King. I was too young to appreciate that fully but now I sometimes wonder which story or reprint of his appeared. I have not seen it listed in his bibliography.
Cut to Mr. King coming to my high school and reading from one of his books. Thinner, I believe it was. Forgetting his being the master, he was one of us Mainers and it gave me the ability to believe anything was possible no matter where you were from. I appreciate him so much more than just his fabulously creepy tales. By sixth grade, the floor was given to me on any Friday I wished, to read graphic short horror stories to the entire class. These were stories I wrote on my own, not for school and not for the class I read them in. I was just known for loving and writing these types of things.
There is no way a teacher would have allowed Tom Savini style slasher stories to be read in class outside of an assignment except for the belief that if King could do it, others in Maine could too. Then my senior year, I created an independent study course for screenwriting, on top of my AP English class. No way would educators, so far removed from Hollywood, allow something like that except there was this Stephen King guy making them there Hollywood movies. Sometimes when you open a door, you find a monster, but other times you find opportunity thanks to someone like Stephen King. His whole talented family, wife to kids. Treasures of Maine, those folks.
Charles L Grant also helped turn me into the writer I am today. He was a modern-day Bradbury who penned so many horror tales. I always knew a book was quality if it had one of his stories in it. He was more subtle than I will ever be but boy, he could set a mood and leave you feeling eternally creeped out. But it was his editing of so many anthologies that I enjoyed the most. He put together some spectacular collections, many with the coolest covers. Check out the Shadows series for some great reading. Miss this man greatly.
Last and I cannot state this enough: Joe R Lansdale is one of the greatest living American writers today. It was his horror shorts that hooked me early on, but I have read so much more of his work over the years. With him, forget everything else, he is simply a fantastic writer. I will never be as good as him and I am okay with that. Most people never will be.
One of my (unproduced) screenplays about golden age Hollywood has a line where a best picture writer makes a toast to his peers along the lines of, “Everyone has access to the same 26 letters, the great ones know how to arrange them just right.” That toast was written with Joe in mind. Since this is horror, I will recommend a short story I feel has been underseen, but I treasure. “Dog” in Dark Delicacies 2 Anthology. He has other dog titles. This one is simply titled “Dog.” Holy shit does this thing move! Greatest damn American writer. My top list like many people could change on any given day, but this man will never drop off said list.
Candace: All great writers. I admit that I do not recall reading Joe Lansdale but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t. I have quite literally read thousands of horror short stories and novels since my teen years. That being said, I will be sure to seek out “Dog” and make sure I read it, just in case, I haven’t come across it yet. Stephen King would be my number one, so I love the story about him coming to your school.
My biggest dream would be meeting Mr. King, or finding out that he’s read something that I wrote. To me, that would be everything. I could die happy and never write another word. So many great people in this industry, what is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
Paul: Only now getting there since I never got the hall pass before. My time in film I was pigeonholed into thriller categories and humor. I wished to write comic book films (from before they were huge) and horror, but people wanted those thrillers from me. Even now, I know I could write thriller novels that would likely exceed the readership of my current books as it is a larger market, but sorry, I love horror, it is my jam and I am done being pigeon-holed, I am putting it out there.
What I do love already though is the quality and diversity of the people. So many cool women and dudes who would never otherwise end up in a room together except they know what you are talking about when you mention the movie Terrified. To all the tatted, the clean cut, the horror nerds (like myself), and the rebels, at their core, horror people are damn fine people. Nice too, as a lot.
A quick example and shout out to a sweet and talented woman. When I first came to LA and knew no one and could not afford to go home for Thanksgiving and feeling blue for the holidays, Dee Wallace invited my buddy Richard Abraham and some other acting mutts to her house for Thanksgiving so they would not be alone. I was one of them. She could not have been nicer, and it may be what allowed me to remain in LA versus running back home in the early days when homesickness was still a thing. Not everyone in the horror community is as nice as she but so many are, despite their fondness for gore.
Candace: That’s a really great memory. I’m so glad that you had that experience. In my short time, being an active member of the horror industry, I also have found that it is full of nice people. Some of the most tremendously talented people have gone out of their way to be kind to me, show me the ropes and to engage with me and I honestly would not be as far along as I am today without them.
That includes you, seeing as how you were one of the first authors to be a part of my Dark Dozen interview series last fall. It’s truly an honor to have you back.
So, what is your endgame? Where do you want to be in five years with your writing and what legacy would you like to leave behind?
Paul: Write as many of my stories as I can, in my time left here and have that obituary forget everything else, other than Horror Writer. (I am not married or a dad, so don’t hound me about wishing that, over best father or husband.) Then I hope some kid discovers my books and he or she goes on to be a great horror writer themselves.
Candace: That’s a good answer. No hounding from me. I truly cannot wait to see what you bring out next. so, naturally, what is next for you? What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?
Paul: Well, “Roots of All Evil” is still fresh, the body has not decomposed too much yet, so I urge people to check that out. There is a preview for my next novel at the end of that book but before Salem Legacy I have a super cool project coming out. There is an anthology/collection of horror short stories on its way from myself and an up-and-coming young writer named Joseph Carro. Yes, my nephew and I will be writing in a volume for a uniquely themed anthology.
I am unaware of any other uncle/nephew writing pairs. The theme is of a type I would have loved when I was younger, and I hope people check it out. Like all things Covid, the project was delayed initially but should finally be out by July or August.
Thank you, Candace. Always great talking to a fellow horror writer and fan!
Candace: The “Thanks” belongs to you, Paul. So wonderful of you to take time out for Uncomfortably Dark, once again. I look forward to your new books!
Readers-Check out Paul's Bio below and make sure to take note of his free book that he is offering for free. "The Hand Off" will be free on Amazon, from Sunday, May 30, through Thursday, June 3, 2021
I was born in Windham, Maine but now live in Santa Monica, CA.
Most of my work is sitting on studio shelves, awaiting the light of day. Unless you have seen the reality show Operation Repo, then you have seen many seasons of my work. (Worked under the pen name Paul Bennett if you are looking for me in the credits.)
The House is a great place to start. Each book previews my next, and there are many more on the way.
As for my socials, my most personal account is my Instagram, which chronicles my day in and day out writing journey, but was opened under the name of my YA main character so find me there at: https://www.instagram.com/theofficialnolanwalker
My horror page socials are Twitter: https://twitter.com/paulcarrohorror
And if you want to get in on the ground level for my new author page for Facebook find me there at: Paul Carro | Facebook
Free Gift for Readers of Uncomfortably Dark!
From Sunday to Thursday-you can head on over to Amazon and grab a free copy of his book “The Handoff”. He has set up a free promo for us for this week only. Do not miss this freebie as Paul recounts 3 true tales of haunting horror and tells us two short stories sure to chill. Click the link below to grab your copy now!
Roots of All Evil
by Paul Carro
A cult murder in a farming community sets off a chain of events that will forever change two families. The charismatic cult leader seemingly perished along with the sacrificial victim.
Decades later when sinkholes appear and a woman goes missing it becomes clear evil never left. The town quickly learns it only takes one bad seed to raise a little Hell. The cult sacrifice from yesteryear planted a secret garden, one where the farmhands hunger for human flesh.
Two families bonded by tragedy unite, planning to travel to the ends of the Earth to save one of their own. They just may have to, for when a doorway opens on their land it exposes a long hidden world. Will the underground passage lead them to their loved one or lead them to their doom?
Evil grows on this farm and its roots run deep.
Full Review Coming June 5, 2021
Free Book !
The Hand Off by Paul Carro
From May 30 through June 2-you can head on over to Amazon and grab a free copy of his book “The Handoff”. He has set up a free promo for us for this week only. Do not miss this freebie as Paul recounts 3 true tales of haunting horror and tells us two short stories sure to chill. Click the link below to grab your copy now!
Buy Me a Coffee?
If you love the work I am doing to bring more horror into the world, one uncomfortably dark page at a time, let me know by buying me a coffee!
This is a fun way that you can show your support for my writing and my website by making a small one time donation via this secure link. All donations go towards operating the website and my future writing endeavors!
Share with your friends if you love uncomfortably dark horror. I'm sure they'll love to join us in the dark!
Thank you for your support!
Newsletter Sign-up form
Pop your email, name, and birthday in here for newsletters and freebies!
This is where you can take 30 seconds to sign up for my weekly newsletters to make sure that you don't miss out on exciting updates, free books and original content! We will never spam you or sell your information to anyone for any reason!