--and just in time for Halloween
Local lauthor Chris Denmead (left) with 2011 World Horror convention GrandMaster Award winner Jack Ketchum.
REGION - Chris Denmead lives a life of horror, by choice, and finds the moral at the end of every spooky story. He has just published his first book, called “Give Me Something Good to Eat.” It's a 30-page children's picture book about a pumpkin that eats children who go trick or treating alone on Halloween. He says it's in the vein of Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton, a twisted tale with a happy ending.
Kids in Oxford will have a chance to hear him read the book at the Oxford Public Library on Tuesday, October 23, at 4:00 p.m.
Chris's career after graduating from Oxford High School in 1998 took a few turns. He worked on photography projects for several years, managed a Kay Bee Toys store until the company went out of business, and then sold for Intel Corporation for a time. Last year the economic downturn hit him and he's been working for temp agencies doing a variety of jobs.
But what he really likes to do is write, take pictures, and watch horror movies. In fact, for the last five years he's been Dr. Chris of the Radio of Horror program on WCUW 91.3 FM Sunday nights at midnight. It's a show for fans of horror films, video games, music, toys, and such. It has news, talk, information, and interviews focused on the horror genre. It's geared for people “who like things that go bump in the night.” He's just hosted his 300th episode of the show. Chris has a blog on wordpress.com called Radio of Horror as well.
For the last three years he's also been a speaker and panelist at Arisia, New England’s largest science fiction and fantasy convention, which takes place in Boston on Martin Luther King weekend every January. Clearly, he’s a horror expert.
Last weekend he participated in the Rock & Shock horror convention at the DCU, where he sold horror items and T-shirts to raise money for Pat Brody’s Animal Shelter and the Scares that Care charity.
The idea for “Give Me Something Good to Eat” began in 2007. He participated in an annual event, a gathering of writers who would create a 24-page comic book in 24 hours. It was hosted by comic book retailer That's Entertainment on Park Avenue in Worcester for a number of years, but is now held at the Worcester Art Museum. He wrote his comic book about a pumpkin that eats children on Halloween.
But then he “just sat on it”; did nothing further until he was challenged by a friend to publish it. He enlisted the help of the Worcester Writers Circle and the New England Horror Writers association. They suggested he work with CreateSpace, an Amazon.com company, which offers printing and distribution services to self-publishers. Books published with CreateSpace are available for sale on the Amazon.com website.
He needed an illustrator for the book and found Boston artist Katie Hickey Schults. He described her artwork as “fluid” and liked the characters she drew based on the story idea.
Chris’s writing career was underway but the road wasn't easy. “After much trial and error, it was finally published,” he said, and called it “a long, dubious process, especially the graphic design element.”
“Give Me Something Good to Eat” is geared to kids age 7 and up. But the tale is so twisted that adults can appreciate it too, he says, comparing it to The Nightmare Before Christmas or Hansel and Gretel. “There is a moral message at the end, a warning for kids not to go out alone on Halloween.” Like Tim Burton's stories, in the end the characters have some heart.
Chris's life is not entirely about horror. He also reads and writes poetry on other topics; you can find him every Sunday evening at the Worcester Poet's Asylum, where he's been going since 1999.
Chris was born and raised in the area, having lived in Oxford, Dudley and Webster, as well as Maryland for a time. He went to Webster Middle School, attended military high school until his senior year, then went on to finish at Oxford High School, where he worked on and took pictures for the yearbook. He now lives in Worcester.
“Give Me Something Good to Eat” is sold on Amazon.com. It’s priced at $13.00.