BookLife Talks with Daniel O’Connor
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Canni'
How did this concept come to you?
I lost both of my parents, and all of my grandparents, before I was 11 years old. So “horror” was a very real thing to me. I began reading horror fiction at about that time. I suspect it was because I wanted to find stories that were worse than my reality. I didn’t want anyone to really experience horror, but in fiction it was comforting to see others having their lives screwed up as well. Now to me, “terror” is quite different than “horror.” A few years ago, I began thinking about what would truly terrify me. I decided it would have to involve putting those closest to me in peril. So I came up with a story that, on the surface, deals with the thought that, at any moment, the people we love might want nothing more than to kill us—and us, them. The impulse would last only a short time, after which we might return to normal, but inevitably it would happen again. How would any of us deal with that?
To what extent did you draw from real life for Canni?
Canni is really just greed on steroids. We all have some level of canni inside us. If something were to activate and supersize the worst within us, we might find ourselves wanting to slaughter and consume anyone around us. It’s “me, me, me” times a billion. Much of Canni takes place in the hundreds of miles of drainage tunnels beneath Las Vegas. There are folks—lots of folks—who take refuge and live in those tunnels. That alone is horrific to me. I try to show the humanity of some of those people, rather than focusing on their perception as annoyances who burden tourists by asking for money.
Why do you think people enjoy reading or watching works of horror?Just escapism. I think many might have similar reasons to my own. Life could be worse, you know? There are different levels to it. We can read or watch horror where 50 heads get blown off and it just makes us laugh, or there could be just one little pinky nail pried off and we can barely stand it. It’s all in the craft and goals of the creators.
What is the one thing you most want to tell readers about you or your book?
I will promise readers that I put everything I have into my stories. I work hard and try to show respect to the work and the reader. I am always determined to do my best. When I was a kid, I broke my front teeth horribly while playing street football in Brooklyn. I was about seven. My parents were already deceased, and nobody was willing to pay a dentist to help me. I went through grade school and most of high school with grotesque teeth. This is not a joke: never mind other kids, even the teachers made fun of me. It took me 10 years to save up money and pay in cash for my dental work. I did that at 17, on my own. So, I know that money isn’t easy to come by and I take very seriously that someone might pay a few bucks for a paperback or download of my work. I just want them to get their money’s worth and find a little escapism, and maybe some laughs, in it.
What projects are you currently working on?
I just completed a new, free short horror story called “The Kind People of Denary.” I posted it at www.canni.blog as a gift for the Halloween season and as a thank-you to those who purchased Canni or my earlier novel, Sons of the Pope. I’m always writing short stories. Maybe I should pen one about a kid who is driven to madness, rage, and engaging the supernatural by those around him. I think I’ll call it “Teeth.”