Tina Hall: How did you first come to be mentored by Robert Bloch? Was it nice to have someone you could look up to at that time in your life? Why do you think his work is so memorable?
Jack Ketchum: I wrote to him in high school at the behest of my English teacher, a class assignment to write to authors we liked, and he wrote me back. That began a long correspondence that lasted until he died. "Nice" is putting it mildly. It was intoxicating at first, for a teenage kid, and later, invaluable to have that feedback. His work stands because he was unique—the first pulp writer to inject both humor and realism into his stories. And most of them hold up to this day.
TH: As someone who is truly kind do you think kindness is a highly overlooked virtue in today's world?
JK: There are people who would argue my kindness but I try. I don't think it's an overlooked virtue. I think it's one of the few that we still hold dear. I'm an old hippie. I still believe, as many people do, that it's important to spread a little sunshine.
TH: You are also very fond of animals, I understand. Is that a long-standing trait?
JK: Sure. When has an animal ever made fun of you? Bullied you? Made you feel unwanted? Ripped you off? Give me a cat or dog over most people any day. They're a safe, reliable, giving repository for love.
TH: The Woman is without a doubt one of the best and most disturbing films I've seen in a long time. Did you know from the start it would be a popular as it has been?
JK: You can never know for sure how people are going to take your work, but Lucky and I -- and then the cast and crew -- felt sure we were on to something different and worthwhile from the get-go. It got infectious. If you worry about how the world is going to take your stuff you're screwed from the beginning. We all just tried to please ourselves, trusted the material, and gave it our best shot. And we had fun. Seems to me that shows.
TH: You are working with Lucky again on I'm Not Sam. Is there anything you can tell us about that? Any thought yet as to who is going to be in the film version? Is there any chance you might use Sean Spillane again on the soundtrack seeing as he nailed it on The Woman?
TH: I understand the first draft scared the hell out of your agent. Do you enjoy being able to do that?
JK: We didn't so much scare her as "deeply disturb" her—her words. Which is what it sets out to do. Do I enjoy disturbing Alice? Sure I do. She's a pretty tough lady and a great friend—I've been with her for over twenty-five years—but she knows enough to batten down the hatches when she gets something new from me.
TH: How do you hope to be remembered when your time comes?
JK: As a pretty good writer and a pretty decent guy. That'll do.
*Photos by Steve Thornton, for www.theamericani.com