Interview with Jack Ketchum

Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for author Dallas Mayr. He has written over twenty books, including novels, short-stories and contributions to anthologies. He has had several of his novels turned into films over the last five years including “The Lost”, “Red”, “The Girl Next Door”, “Offspring”and the most recent “The Woman”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with him about his numerous film adaptions and also what he has planned upcoming?

Mike Gencarelli: What is your process for writing a story, do you have film adaption if you mind when do it?
Jack Ketchum: No, I just write the story. But movies have influenced me greatly over the years, so I think my stories often have a cinematic feel to them.

MG: Some of the content in your novels are pretty intense, are you weary of how they can translate into film?
JK: Well, the movies which have been made based on my books have pretty much kept most of the intensity. So I don’t see why that shouldn’t continue.

MG: How has it been working with Lucky McKee on “The Woman” and “Red”?
JK: Lucky’s great to work with. I’d only collaborated on a handful of short stories before with Edward Lee and P.D. Cacek, so I was a little leery going into writing “The Woman” with him, a much longer project, and I think he’d never worked with a novelist before so he probably was too. But we’d been completely in agreement as to how RED should work, so we were optimistic. And even though I’m old enough to be his father, we might have been exact contemporaries — that’s how much we thought alike.

MG: How do you feel that the adaption for “The Woman” has turned out?
JK: I love it. I’m proud of it. I was on-set for most of the shoot and saw how well it was going so I’m not surprised. We knew we had something special all along.

MG: How would you put the film adaptions, “The Lost”, “Red”, “The Girl Next Door”, “Offspring” & “The Woman”, ranking from most liked to least?
JK: Sorry, I’m not going to do that. It’s like picking your favorite kid. All I can say is that in each case the filmmakers have tried their best to stay faithful to the source material, and for that I’m quite grateful.

MG: How much input have you had with the film adaptions of your novels?
JK: Some more than others, but everybody’s asked me for some, particularly in the scripting stage. As I said, I was there for most of the filming of “The Woman” and that was cool, because if something wasn’t going right Lucky and I could fix it right then and there together. I was also on the set of “The Girl Next Door” a lot, because it was shooting quite near me, in New York and New Jersey. On “The Lost”, I saw three drafts of the screenplay and commented on them. I even worked with some of the actors, discussed their parts. Chris Sivertson, the director, was very open to that. In fact he even bought copies of the book for all the cast and crew to read! Unheard of!

MG: You have appeared as a cameo or role in most of the film, are you trying to follow Stephen King with his films?
JK: Alfred Hitchcock.

MG: How do you film you work has changed or evolved since your first novel?
JK: I think my characters are much richer. “Off Season” mostly sketched in the characters, which was necessary because I wanted the shit to hit the fan early on. But you take “Red” or “The Woman”, and there’s a much more gradual build. I think my writing’s grown more assured too.

MG: Do you have novel you have always wanted to get made into a film?
JK: I’d love to see “Ladies Night” filmed. I think it’s a natural. Stuart Gordon had an option on it for quite a while, wrote a damn good script which contained elements of a script I’d written long before. But the option’s lapsed, alas.

MG: What is your next novel that you are working on?
JK: Right now, no novel. A screenplay. But I’m not going to tell you what it’s about. If I talk about a story I generally won’t write it. I wind up talking it to death.


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