Author Interview with Shaun Hamill

Welcome back to my author interview series. Many thanks to Shaun Hamill for taking some time to answer these questions. Without further ado, let’s get to the discussion.



1. What made you start writing horror?

I always read horror growing up (Stephen King was my first “big boy” author, followed shortly by Anne Rice), but I didn’t try writing it until I was in my 30s. In my teens and twenties, I saw myself as more of a Nick Hornby/John Irving kind of writer—tragic/funny/romantic stuff set in a recognizable real world.

But once I was in grad school and started reading some of the great early Weird Fiction writers (Lovecraft, Howard) something clicked in my brain and I was like, “This. I want to do this.” So, I tried to move that John Irving sensibility to the milieu of cosmic horror, and I think it worked. I felt like I’d finally found my “thing”—a mix of the literary/character-based story against a backdrop of dark wonder.


2. What is your favorite tool (vocabulary, commas, dialogue, flashback, etc.) in your writer’s toolbox? 

That’s a tough call, but if I had to pick one, I really love dialogue. It’s the most fun part of writing—watching the characters negotiate with one another. It feels very natural to me.


3. Robert E. Howard’s Conan faces off against H.R. Giger’s Alien in a ruined fortress. Can Conan win? If so, how? 

This is the best question I’ve ever been asked. Conan can win, but I think a couple of things would have to work in his favor. First, he’d need to know how fast and strong the Alien is. Second, he’d need to be aware that it bleeds acid. If he doesn’t know both of those things (or learn them very quickly after encountering the Alien for the first time), he’s screwed. But let’s assume he does know these things—either having seen the creature kill someone else, or by trying one-on-one combat before getting away.

In this case, if Conan can hide and find a vantage point over the creature, he could try to smash it with some debris (a crumbling stone or something similar). If he times it right, he can either kill the Alien outright, or trap it. If he traps it, he can either get in close to finish it off, or just get away. If I were writing the story, he wouldn’t run away, though. He’d get in close and set the Alien on fire. He wouldn’t leave until he was sure the thing was dead.


4. What should readers know about your most recent or upcoming work (or works) and where can they find your writing? 

I am not the most prolific writer, so tracking down my “collected works” is relatively easy. My first novel, A COSMOLOGY OF MONSTERS, it out in paperback from Vintage/Anchor. My new novel, THE DISSONANCE, hits on July 23, from Pantheon Books, in hardcover/ebook/audiobook versions. I also have a Conan the Barbarian story, “Lethal Consignment,” from Titan books, which you can get for $1.99.

There are links to all three on the Penguin Random House homepage, here:



If you’re still jonesing for some Shaun Hamill content, you can check out my rave review of his debut novel, A Cosmology of Monsters.