I spent much of last night talking with a very charming, intelligent, and funny horror author by the name of Owl Goingback. Owl is not only a witty multi award winning author, and speaker, he is also a paranormal investigator, who sometimes helps families and businesses deal with things that go bump in the night.
You may have guessed by his name that he is Native American, and you would be right. Goingback is half Cherokee and half Choctaw, yes like the song. Every novel he writes is infused with the legends and teachings of Native Americans along with terrifying creatures and killers. He also tours and lectures on the subject. You might find Goingback at one of the horror conventions or a Pow Wow, where both his sons compete as dancers, in and around Florida.
I talk to a lot of people in the horror industry, but I’ve found it rare to meet someone with such love and zest for the genre. While we were talking Goingback sounded like an excited kid who just got a new (horror) toy, which he does collect. He also happens to own a hearse.
KM “What inspired you to start writing?”
OG “I planned out stories as a kid. In 8th grade, we had to write a one page story, a comedy. The teacher read it out loud and everyone busted out laughing. In high school I wrote papers for cash. When I went into the military (Air Force) I stopped writing. After I got out, one night my wife and I sat at the bar we owned watching an interview with Stephen King and she turned to me and said “Why Can’t you be smart like that?”. I went home and wrote a story to prove to her I could write and that I wasn’t stupid. I wrote an article for a magazine and they bought it, then a second one.
The first book I wrote was Crota. I think you would like it. It won the 1996 Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and was one of the four finalists for their Best Novel Award, Stephen King’s The Green Mile won it. George A. Romero talked to me about making it a movie a couple of years ago, but it never panned out. ”
KM “What inspired Crota?”
OG “Back when I was a kid we weren’t allowed to play outside after dark. There was something in the woods that would scream at night. People would say that they saw things. And one day I was out in the woods with friends and we found claw marks high in a tree. They were higher up than we could reach. That always stayed in my head. Normally, only humans hunt because they want to kill something, but the creature in the book kills for sport too and that’s a scary thought.”
KM “How does your heritage influence your writing?”
OG “I include American Indian legends, tales, lessons and medicine in each story. A few years ago, the Orange Correctional Facility sent a package to my agent, who then forwarded it to me. They were using my books for the young offenders program, 14 and 15 year-olds. I called them and was like “Hey, I’m the author and would be happy to speak.” So I went and did a few lectures. They told me that they were having a positive affect on the boys, they were learning respect. I thought “Wow!”. My wife was a little freaked out, she went with me. I was saddened to see the boys in shackles. I asked one of the guards what they were in for and he went down the line “Murder, robbery, murder…”. These kids had made one mistake and some of them are in for life. That’s sad.”
KM “I believe I’ve seen one of your children’s books before,Eagle Feathers. I was looking for Native American themed books for my nephew.”
OG “Maybe. Teachers and parents love them.”
KM “Are you working on a new book now?”
OG “I’m working on an anthology of short stories. It’s title is “Tribal Screams”(cover pictured below). It will be out in a couple of months. I’m also working on a book titled ‘Coyote Rage’. It is set half in this world and half in what would be considered Cherokee heaven. It will be out in a few months too.”
KM “What’s the best things you can hear as an author?”
OG “To have people say “I liked your book.” is great, but to have them say “It scared the hell out of me.” is so much cooler. I once had a guy tell me that right after he read ‘Crota’ he broke down on the road after dark. He thought he heard something and dove into the cab of his truck and locked the door. I thought that was great.”
KM “If you had to pick your two favorite authors, who would they be?”
OG “I have been a life long fan of Ray Bradbury, he wrote with such poetic pose. No one could copy him. I’m also a big fan of Lovecraft – very creepy – He’s done a lot for the genre. Part of ‘Crota’ was a tip of the hat to him. Ambrose Bier, his stories about the Civil War were so graphic. I love history.”
KM “Can you tell us about your investigations into the paranormal?”
OG “Mitch Hyman and I went on an investigation last night. A couple was worried that there was a harmful spirit in their home. Turns out, it was the previous owner just lurking about. I was walking around and heard someone walk up behind me. I slowly turned around and no one was there. Mitch was in the other room talking to the couple. In situations like that it’s best to just leave the spirit alone. We explained that to the couple and told them to keep his garden in good shape and everything should be fine.
I work at a cemetery where thousands of people are buried, sometimes I see them walking around. A few years ago I saw this angry man walking towards me then he just disappeared.”
KM “Do you ever have scary experiences?”
OG “Sometimes I get zapped, dizzy and sick. Late one night I was getting something out of the refrigerator, I closed it and there stood my Aunt, three days after she had died. After we lost our house to hurricane Jeanne we had to take it down to the studs. A constructor worker asked if he could work at night. I warned him about the spirits, but he brushed it off. He was chased out of our house at 2:00 am. He never worked there at night again. When he did come, he would bring this big dog with him. I warned him.”
KM “What is your favorite horror movie?”
OG “Wow, that’ hard. I would Say Jaws. I sat in the theater and thought “What would you do? You’re all alone in the dark, in the water and feel something touch your leg. Then BAM, you’re part of the food chain. So terrifying. I also love the classic Universal Monsters.”
KM “Are you excited about the upcoming Universal Monster remakes, like The Mummy remake starring Tom Cruise?”
OG “(Growl.) Why? Why can’t they take bad movies, remake those and leave the good ones alone?”
I laughed the entire time we talked. And being half Cherokee myself it was a pleasure to talk with someone who shows so much respect and honors the heritage the way Goingback does. Even though he has been a horror fan (and author) for years, he still holds that same excitement as someone who has just discovered the genre.
I strongly recommend that you check out Goingback’s novels, including Crota, Darker Than Night, Breed and Evil Whispers. For more on Owl Goingback and his contact information please visit his website. For frequent updates on his novels and appearances follow him on Twitter.