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Nancy Holder dishes on horror Kickstarter 'Diablo House,' 'Buffy,' and a future in comics

Comic Books

Nancy Holder dishes on horror Kickstarter ‘Diablo House,’ ‘Buffy,’ and a future in comics

A giant-sized celebration of modern horror.

Nancy Holder is a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, a horror novelist, and a comics writer. Holder is one of several contributors to the now-live Kickstarter for Diablo House, which blends both comics and prose. Featuring horror of all sorts from a wide array of creators (from board game writers to comic book authors), Diablo House actually kicked off with a comic over five years ago.

Diablo House is a hardcover format anthology coming in at 6″ x 9″ and 168 pages. There’s full-color printing on the cover and black and white printing on the interior, with a 16-page full-color inserted section of Grady Hendrix’s comics debut. The anthology includes prose stories by Erik Burnham, Jon Cohn, Scott Duvall, and Shaun Harris. (Check out the Kickstarter here.)

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Just before the campaign’s launch, I asked Holder a few questions about her story in the series and how she became involved with the project. We also discussed how the pandemic has affected her writing process, her foray into her Buffy novelizations, and much more.

Nancy Holder dishes on horror Kickstarter 'Diablo House,' 'Buffy,' and a future in comicsAIPT: How did you get approached to contribute to Diablo House?

Nancy Holder: Robbie Robbins got in touch with me. Many years ago, he took a horror writing class I taught at the University of California at San Diego Extension, which is like University without Walls. He asked me if I’d be interested in contributing a story. It was great to hear from him after all the success he’s had in the publishing world. I loved the Diablo House GN and was rarin’ to catch the wave!

AIPT: What can you tell us about your prose story in the anthology?

NH: My sister lives in Florida, and there are ponds around her condo complex that tend to be inhabited by alligators. She nicknamed one of them “Chompy.” When I was at her house, I watched a stream of bubbles caused by Chompy swimming underwater. As I followed the trail, one of my sister’s neighbors ambled by with a little dog on a leash. A very little, very cute little dog. I am happy to say that no dogs were harmed in the writing of “Chickens for Chompy.” 

While I’m on the subject of Florida, may I say that Florida is an easy target for stories about misfits and other unusual people, but it is an absolutely gorgeous state packed with fascinating history, amazing art collections, and, of course, my beloved Walt Disney World (and my even-more-beloved sister). It’s also home to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, the only state park in the country featuring a live underwater mermaid show. I sent Kolchak, Kato, and the Green Hornet there on an adventure. 

Back to the Chompster, it took a while to figure out what to do with him. But once Jason arrived on the scene, Chompy’s destiny came clear. And I’ve fallen in love with that dang gator so much that I’m planning further adventures for him and the assorted survivors he leaves in his bubbly wake. 

AIPT: The pandemic has rocked all our lives, have you found it has influenced your work? I read somewhere you love writing at Disneyland, the parks being shut down must have put a damper on your process!

NH: I moved out of Southern California before the pandemic hit, so my writing blitzes at the Happiest Place on Earth had already come to an untimely end. Now I go there just like any other out-of-towner, but luckily, I have many local relatives eager to spend the day with me there. The only difference is I don’t write or edit while I’m smack dab in the endless cheerful din, the way I used to. I have fun like a normal Disney freak.

As for the pandemic influencing my work: to be honest, it didn’t really affect it. Freelancers sit in front of computer screens, and it doesn’t matter where those screens are. I could be living on Mars or in the Belt (The Expanse namecheck achievement unlocked!) and day-to-day life would be about the same, except that in the Belt, I would be worried that we might run out of clean air or drinkable water. Oh, wait….

Nancy Holder Diablo House

AIPT: You have an upcoming series from Moonstone Books on the way, Johnny Fade in Deadtown. Can you tell us a bit about that project and what we might expect?

NH: I am totally over the moon to be writing so much now with my writing partner, Alan Philipson. Alan has kept a low profile through a very long, prolific career. He’s written all kinds of stuff but the bulk of his output has been apocalyptic SF and action-adventure novels. We’ve practically known each other all our lives and started writing together about seven years ago. 

Johnny Fade in Deadtown is our paen to noir detective fiction, with an added supernatural twist. If there’s a noir movie in existence, we have seen it (except for the new GdT Nightmare Alley. Just haven’t gotten to it yet.) We love the entire noir sensibility and our fantastic artist, John K. Snyder III, loves it also. We just delivered our first script to him and we’re hard at work on the second one. The three of us are a dream team. 

So far, our projected Johnny Fade in Deadtown oeuvre is a series of three prose short stories and five comics. The comics will ultimately be folded into a graphic novel. One of our favorite characters is Rachel Alcina, who is able to summon Johnny from Deadtown, which is a rundown, gray version of 1940 Hollywood (Tinseltown). She’s a movie star in the “Mexican spitfire” mold. She’s also quite homicidal and racks up an impressive body count protecting her career and fighting Nazis on the side.   

AIPT: Johnny Fade is also set in California, which I believe is where your prose in Diablo House is also set. What is it about California that works for you as far as the story is concerned?

NH: I’m a native Californian. I went to the University of California at San Diego (and also taught there), which is located in La Jolla, and I know that whole area so well. By the way, Alan Philipson was a surfer back in the day, and I think that’s really cool.

Nancy Holder

AIPT: You’ve written a few Buffy novels, and I’d be remiss not to ask for my comics site. Would you ever be interested in writing Buffy comics?

NH: I’ve written nearly four dozen Buffy and Angel projects! I would have loved to write Buffy and/or Angel comics. I contributed to Buffy the Vampire Slayer Encyclopedia: The Ultimate Guide to the Buffyverse and getting the comics figured out (what was canon, what was not, names for arcs) was the hardest part for me. I took my pages to Shiai Mata the king of Buffy literary fandom and a comic books guy, to C2E2 in Chicago and we sat over pastrami and corned beef sandwiches in the food court, and he studied it and said, “Yes.” For me, that was like getting my Jedi light saber. Alas, I am now a pescetarian, but you can get a pastrami-flavored Impossible burger at Disney California Adventure. Recommended.

AIPT: If you ever made the leap to writing comics full time. Would there be a publisher or specific series you’d be interested in tackling?

NH: Alan and I are writing another comic book series for another publisher, and when we can talk about that, we will. Between this and other things we are writing for Moonstone, our dance card is pretty dang full of comics, which makes us both extremely happy. (But hey, Clover, here we are!) Speaking of other things we are writing for Moonstone, we are writing a prose story for Moonstone’s big gigantic Kolchak 50th Anniversary Doorstop. I’ve written Kolchak prose before for Moonstone and I’m really happy that we are working with our editor, James Aquilone, and so many talented, creative writers and artists. Our story takes place in…guess when! 1940ish! Noir-ish! Shoutout to Mr. Moonstone himself, Joe Gentile, for this opportunity.

And a huge thank-you to Clover for my Diablo House debut!

(Editor’s Note 2/9/22: We’ve updated the description of Nancy Holder to better reflect her status in writing comics)

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