David Kempf has written over fifty short stories, many of which deal with themes of horror fiction. He has won several writing awards including first place in the short story competition of Millersville University’s Lemuria magazine. Two of his short stories were selected in the 2007 publication of The Grackle, his graduate school’s literary magazine. David is featured on two short fiction websites, one American and one British. He holds an M.S. from Chestnut Hill College and a B.A. from Millersville University. David resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with his wife and his son. Dark Fiction is his first novel. The Petsorcist is David’s new book and it mixes horror and comedy.
JD The Petsorcist is your second book. Is it a sequel to Dark Fiction?
DK No it’s not but one of the main characters Henry David Wells from that book is in this story. I think I want him in all my books. He can be in every book like Michael Caine is in every movie.
JD Is this book a parody of The Exorcist?
DK It is. Yes. I think the idea of demonically possessed animals is funny and scary at the same time. That’s why I went back to read William Peter Blatty’s novel before I wrote this. I acknowledge him and some other famous authors who inspired me to write this although I have had this idea stuck in my head for a long time.
JD Who are the other authors?
DK In addition to William Peter Blatty, I was inspired by Ray Bradbury, Truman Capote, C.S. Lewis, Nathaniel Hawthorne, George Orwell and Jonathan Maberry.
JD That’s a very diverse group of writers.
DK I read a lot of stuff that isn’t horror. It’s a good idea for any author to read extensively outside of their genre.
JD You must be a huge fan of The Exorcist.
DK Yes, Jon. It was shocking for its time with Dick Smith’s makeup effects and the profanity coming from a little girl. I didn’t care for the second film but the next one with George C. Scott that was directed by Blatty was great.
JD The raw version is on Masters of Horror. Why did you put it into an E book?
DK The version on your site is similar but has some differences. There is more action in the final edited version. It’s almost in order. I wrote the prologue “An Odd Exorcism” last so it comes after the rest of the story on your website.
JD Do you think that humor and horror go together?
DK Absolutely but you have to be careful. Too much humor can take away from the suspense and terror that are the main concerns when you are trying to tell the story. One of my favorite movies is An American Werewolf in London. Never was humor and horror so perfectly combined before as it was in that film. One of the actors from that movie Griffin Dunne has a signed copy of Dark Fiction. He came to Bucks County Pennsylvania to film a movie.
JD One of your villains in the book is a cat. Don’t you think cats are scapegoat as symbols of evil?
DK Yes and this is not a black cat. Black cats were scapegoated for being connected with witchcraft in the Middle Ages by the church. The cat in the story is named Moose and is loosely based upon my cat Moose. He’s crème colored and beautiful and behaves terribly.
JD Do you think he’s demonically possessed?
DK The thought has crossed my mind.
JD Are your characters more heroic in this story?
DK They definitely are. The priest is heroic and only does questionable things when the forces of evil are messing with him. His sidekick is also a good guy. Dr. Wells on the other hand is still morally ambiguous and I suppose probably always will be.
JD Do you think this book is better than your first one?
DK I feel like writing has improved but they’re too different to compare.
JD Dark Fiction was about death, immortality and ghouls. The book cover reflected that with its depiction of a human skull surrounded by darkness. The Petsorcist has a wolf looking through a window with a crucifix on the right hand wall. The possessed wolves in the story are a major aspect of the whole book. Do you make an effort to have your covers reveal the storyline?
DK I think that to a certain extent that you should judge a book by its cover. You can’t look at a book cover and know everything about what you’re going to read but it should offer some clues. My brother in law Joe Camastra did the cover for Dark Fiction and now for The Petsorcist. He’s a horror fan like me and I think he does great work.
JD You should get the big picture. Is that what you mean?
JD You’ve written quite a few short stories on my website Masters of Horror. I take it that you don’t do this for the money.
DK I don’t do it for the money any more than I did when I made short horror films when I was younger. Three of them are on Masters of Horror with my short stories. I write for the love of it. If I make a buck or two when a book is released, that’s just icing on the cake to me. The real thrill is meeting people at book signings. The Doylestown Bookshop and Canterbury Tales Forever are two independent book sellers that have been very kind to me when I published my first book. When I went to Monster Mania in Cherry Hill last year I had the opportunity to meet John Carpenter and have him sign my novel. He’s one of my idols and I’m saving that signed novel for my son to have someday.
JD I understand your first sale that evening was someone you grew up watching every week on a famous science fiction television show.
DK Yes, Erin Gray from Buck Rogers was my first paying customer and I singed a copy of Dark Fiction for her. I felt like the luckiest man on the planet.
JD What’s next?
DK I have a children’s book with space aliens that I am trying to get published and then a novel that is sort of a sequel to Dark Fiction.
JD Thanks for taking the time, David. I hope you continue to write for Masters of Horror U.K. for a long time to come.
DK You can count on it.
Review by Jonathan Maberry -NY Times Bestseller
With DARK FICTION, talented newcomer David Kempf kicks open doors into a lot of the darker places of the human mind and soul. Dark, fast, and wicked fun...this is book with real bite. This is the kind of first novel that offers great promise for a bold new player in the horror genre.