What happens when you take the mind of a Paranormal Investigator and horror fanatic and mix it with Irish Folklore? You get horror author Chris Rush from County Wicklow in Ireland who is bringing us a new wave of Folklore inspired horror beginning with his best-selling novel ‘Folklore.’ ANN MASSEY O’REGAN caught up with Chris to find out what inspires him and what deliciously dark treats he has in store for us.
How did you become interested in the paranormal and what was your first paranormal experience?
I guess I’ve always had an interest in the paranormal, we’ve all seen movies such as ‘The Exorcist’, ‘The Amityville Horror’, ‘The Conjuring’ and ‘Poltergeist’ and I’ve always been fascinated by the “what if this actually happened to someone I know?” possibility.
I guess my first experience had was many years ago, when I was about sixteen. I was on a school tour to Venice. We were travelling by boat when I noticed a small overgrown and uninhabited Island that I was strangely drawn to, in particular the large clock tower that was bricked up. It wasn’t until some months later while watching TV I recognised the exact same island, which is known as Poveglia and is home to over 100,000 bodies and is meant to be one of the most haunted locations on Earth.
Were you skeptical before this and is debunking your first port of call on investigations?
In truth I’m actually a skeptic, but I respect the feelings and beliefs of others because who am I to say what they have seen, heard or senses isn’t real?
Having said that when I approach an investigation I will always seek to find a rational explanation for anything which may be occurring, while keeping an open mind. To expand a little further, I’m not saying that the paranormal does or does not exist, rather I gather evidence to try help establish what may be causing the activity be it paranormal or not.
You’ve been everywhere from Loftus Hall to Wicklow Gaol and done private house investigations. What is your most memorable investigation and why?
Yes, I have to say I have been to some incredible locations with Paranormal Researchers Ireland all around the country and if I was to pick the most memorable one, I’d have to say it was the one when you yourself Ann, and other selected individuals joined us in Loftus Hall. If I recall correctly we were in the morning room with little activity occurring at the time and we began chatting amongst ourselves. Moments later a voice shouted “attention!” Some in the room though it came from my walkie talkie, though I didn’t think it did. I thought it came from outside so I radioed the other team members who confirmed no one was out there, but that they had heard the exact same word uttered at the exact same time upstairs. Me being my skeptical self I assume it could have been radio interference from a boat or anything at sea, but none the less it was and still is a very interesting occurrence.
Paranormal Investigation is clearly important to you but horror is your first love. What got you into the genre and what do you love most about it?
I have to say I am a self-proclaimed horror fanatic, I love anything to do with the genre and always have for as long as I can remember. I suppose the interest is passed on from my father, as he is a big fan of horror himself and I was around it from a young age. A thing I love about it is the unsettling effect that horror pictures, videos and sounds can have on people. I love that it has been a sustainable genre over decades and it still tries to push the limits on how to scare people, something I try to implement in my own books.
How do you think modern slasher compares to classic Hammer?
I don’t think there is any comparison, don’t get me wrong there have been some really good recent horror movies and I personally would never disrespect someone’s work. But I think Hammer help set the foundation for what we see today. I mean every single one of us has seen or heard of at least one of those old Dracula, Frankenstein, movies and so on. People may say that the effects, camera quality and so on weren’t as good back then, which I can understand, but nowadays I think good camera quality can take from a good horror movie. It’s hard to find the right balance. Another tribute to Hammer is the amount of movies still being produced today, inspired from the old movies.
From Horror Fan to Best-Selling Horror Author! Tell us about Folklore and how you went from an idea to a published best-selling novel?
Well Folklore is a story based on a family who are plagued by the Banshee. Folklore actually began as a screenplay which I wrote after finishing college. However, when finished I gave up on it, until I travelled to Florida on holiday. I met Lisa V. Proulx who by chance, is herself a best-selling author and she advised me to turn the screenplay into a book, as there would be a better chance of people reading it. So I took her advice and turned it into a novel. During this time, she promoted me and even organised a book signing with her in Dublin, something I’m extremely thankful for. Since its release in March it became a bestseller in the UK and America and I’ve had book signings in Loftus Hall, Wicklow Jail and even America, which I still can’t believe.
During your American promotional tour, you visited some iconic locations relating to the spooky! Where did you go and what was it like?
Yes, I did, the two most iconic locations I visited on my trip were The Exorcist steps in Georgetown and Burkittsville, known from ‘The Blair Witch Project’.
The best way I can describe it is as an amazing experience. It’s one thing seeing the movie but when you are actually at the location where some of it was shot it’s just something else.
‘The Exorcist’ steps themselves are steep and long, and unlike the movie, the house where Regan experienced the possession is not at the top of the steps, however this doesn’t affect the coolness of the location, it’s safe to safe I was smiling from ear to ear on these steps.
Burkittsville was only a short drive from Pleasant Valley were I stayed, it is an old small town, population of 250, if I remember correctly. Again I was awe struck being in an area that as featured in a horror movie. It was surrounded by cornfields, with woodland in the distance. Definitely worth the trip!
You spend most of your time writing or investigating? When do you get to kick back and what’s your favourite horror book/film?
Oh a very good question. I don’t really believe in having a favorite in a sense. I prefer to judge a film/book on its ability to stay with you after viewing/reading and I can’t narrow it down more than that.
A movie that always sticks out in my mind for me however is John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ because of its rawness and the element of “this could actually happen” A book that stands out in recent times for me is Lauren Beukes’ Broken Monsters.
Your next book is ‘All Shall Suffer’. Tell us a bit about it and when we can read it?!
This is a much darker story than Folklore. It is based on an elderly woman who has the ability to contact the dead, however a demon begins to bombard and torment her over many years and eventually breaks her and unleashes his evil will upon the community. I’ve tried breaking the rules with this story and I hope in some way for the readers I’ve achieved that.
I am currently going through the edit and will need to get the final draft proof read and then that’s it. I’m hoping for a release before Christmas so watch this space.
What’s next for Chris Rush?
I’m going to keep writing horror and trying to break the rules. I try relate to what people may experience in their everyday lives and try incorporate it someway into the story. I’ve had an incredible year so far with my writing, my trip, and I was lucky enough to get onto the Paranormal Researchers Ireland team.
So I’m going to keep doing what I love – trying to scare anyone who reads my books as much as possible and make them second guess turning the lights off.
Spooky Isles is delighted to announce that despite his busy schedule, Chris Rush will be joining the Spooky Isles Team writing about haunted Ireland and horror. Look out for his first article on Haunted Wicklow! Meanwhile for more information about Chris and his books, click on the links below: