The nicest people can have a gift for creating the best of zombies. Frank Darabont and I were having a chat… more like one of my early interviews, where I sat and listened to incredible tales from the crypt or crib. I wondered where Frank drew on all his creativity - that dark side that didn’t show in our gentle conversation. And then it revealed itself: our mutual journey through Catholic Schools.
My odyssey took place in New Jersey, but Frank’s was the full-blown European version. Complete with an old castle- like building and nuns with a strange sense of reward. I imagined a place Dracula would feel comfortable.
As Frank described it, the nuns allowed the good students to visit the castle’s cellar on select days. There in a darkened room was a mummified infant in a glass case. It was the child of the original owner of the castle. The baby had been placed in this state by the family many years earlier. The nuns had inherited the baby along with the castle. Frank said that the well-behaved students were allowed to deposit their coin – the equivalent of a quarter – in a slot on the side of the glass enclosed casket. The coin would trigger a light on the baby – for just an instant. The student was rewarded with a temporary fright. These strange but true things are perhaps what sets the ground work for a great writer, whether it’s horror or just plain human nature. When I think about it, there’s nothing plain about human nature. We are complicated and scary.
Frank shared a lot of thoughts with me that day, but the mummified baby really topped the list of stories I won’t forget.
My Author Bumping talent has placed me in the most surreal of situations. I was pleased to be interviewing Mick Garris the day after the first episode of The Stand aired on TV. Mick directed Stephen King’s epic novel in a mini-series format. Steven Spielberg called to congratulate Mick on a job well done. There I was sitting with one of the nicest guys on earth, sweet to a fault. He was being praised for doing a great job of conveying the remains of the human race as it struggles to right itself. And the praise was coming from his mentor. How did I get so lucky to be in this place and time? Maybe my Author Bumping is a gift I’m supposed to share with my readers? Perhaps it’s to let you know that the scariest stories come from the nicest writers?
I wish Frank Darabont all the best with his apocalyptic series… The Walking Dead which premieres Halloween night on AMC. He’s been nominated three times for the Academy Award including the classic film… The Shawshank Redemption. This should be one of the best and most believable zombie fests ever. I’m getting goose bumps in anticipation. Or to quote that famous line from Dawn of the Dead…
“We’re coming to get you Barbara.”