Through the Black Hole » MR. PURPLE – review and interview with W.H. Chizmar

MR. PURPLE – review and interview with W.H. Chizmar

Written by Tony Northrup

Mr Purple

It seems that every generation has at least one writer to come along that becomes legendary and iconic. Poe, Lovecraft, Stephen King, Anne Rice, J.K. Rowling, and Richard Chizmar.Each has their own genre, and have become pretty much household names. Author Richard Chizmar is no stranger to the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and several other best selling authors list.

That being said, oftentimes these authors have children who follow right in their footsteps. Stephen King, for example, has two sons, Joe Hill and Owen King who are becoming as prolific writers as their father. Richard Chizmar also has a son, Billy Chizmar. He too is following in his fathers footsteps, and has already accomplished plenty at such a very young age. He has written and sold short stories which have been published in many anthologies, has worked on many projects with his father, Richard, as well as films such as, WIDOW’S POINT, TRAPPED, and MURDER HOUSE. I hear he’s not a bad LaCrosse player either! Billy is certainly making his mark in the literary world ,and the film industry. MR. PURPLE is his latest publication released through Lividian Publications in July 2023.

MR. PURPLE is a nearly 60-page novella written by W.H. Chizmar (Billy) and is filled with original artwork by renowned artist Glenn Chadbourne. Glenn is known for his amazing work within the fantasy and horror genres. His illustrations are highly acclaimed, and his art is often featured on books and magazine covers for several well known publications as well.

MR. PURPLE is the story of a young 24 year old man named Benjamin Bernoulli, who lives alone in Seattle. Ben does reviews of video games. When Ben’s tasked with the assignment to review the new game MR. PURPLE, he finds it’s like no other he’s reviewed before. First, the game is released by a company he’s never heard of before, and secondly, it’s a horror game. Ben absolutely does not like horror games. He doesn’t like any horror…period! However, it’s his job to play the video games he receives, making sure they’re ready for the consumer.

As Ben plays this very detailed and realistic game, he becomes a bit unnerved. The hairs on his arms stand up, and he’s overcome by a feeling of dread. He soon realizes this is no ordinary video game. The deeper he gets into the game, the more Ben becomes frightened, wondering if this is just a game, or is it something more than that. No, he reminds himself it can’t be real. Soon Ben is convinced that MR. PURPLE is coming for him. Ben is now compelled to finish the game as all he can think about is what, or who is….MR. PURPLE.

W.H. Chizmar’s MR. PURPLE is creepy and dark! It reminded me of Stephen King’s Everything’s Eventual meets the character Pennywise from the story IT. This story is certainly aimed at the gamer generation…and it works! MR. PURPLE, the character is terrifying, and with Billy’s frightening description, paired with the amazing illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne, MR. PURPLE is brought to life. MR. PURPLE is frightening! Everyone has their own boogeyman, and Billy Chizmar has brought his version to life! I look forward to reading more great stories from W.H. Chizmar (Billy). I really enjoyed this story, and I highly recommend MR. PURPLE.

I had the honor of interviewing author W.H. Chizmar regarding his latest chapter book MR. PURPLE. So, here we go!

Anthony Northrup – When did you first take an interest in writing and storytelling? Who were your inspirations?
Billy Chizmar – I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember. When I was first learning to read and write, I would rip off big flaps of cardboard from old boxes and draw comic strips on them. They were usually about monsters or heroes or both, so I guess not much has changed there! I’d be crazy not to mention Stephen King, Robert McCammon, Dean Koontz, and, of course, Richard Chizmar. Before I was old enough to read their heavy hitters, I would beg my dad to retell their (and his own!) stories to me. Growing up and becoming capable of reading them myself was a thrill, but it also opened my eyes to other folks like Cormac McCarthy and Ursula Le Guin. Then I went off to college and got my world rocked by the likes of Toni Morrison and James Joyce and too many others to count! But if we want to wind the clock all the way back, Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants” series takes the cake. It’s a preposterous graphic novel run that came out in paperback when I was a kid about a mean school principal who spontaneously turns into a barely-clothed superhero, and I loved it. King and company may have showed me how to tell a story, but it was the goofy tales like “Captain Underpants” and Jon Scieszka’s “The Stinky Cheeseman and other Fairly Stupid Tales,” books written for no purpose besides selling copies and making kids smile, that impressed upon me why we tell stories.

AN – Your father, the very talented Richard Chizmar, is a bestselling author. What is it like having two writers in the Chizmar family, and what advice does he give you? Does he help you out from time to time?
BC – It’s a dream! Having someone you can talk shop with in the same house has been really wonderful for the both of us. We bounce ideas off each other at the dinner table and in passing all the time, and we’re usually one another’s first editor. Sometimes it’s stressful, especially when we’re both contending with our own separate deadlines, but it makes watching horror movies and getting book recommendations a lot easier. My dad coached me in just about every sport growing up, so we’ve had a long time to work on our collaborative process. Now that we’ve been teammates on “Widow’s Point” and a few other projects, it just feels natural. It helps that our strengths and weaknesses complement each other; he occasionally comes to me for advice on overarching story and symbolism and I constantly beg him for help with flow and action scenes!

AN – Let’s talk about your new chapbook, MR.PURPLE. How, and when did this project come about? How long was the process of writing the story from start to finish?
BC – The story had been dwelling in my head for a while, but it took me forever to find the time to write it! I managed to find a break in my Patreon writing schedule last August, so I took the opportunity to write “Mr. Purple” before my content creation was back to its regular programming. I wanted to have a good, freaky story in my back pocket in case I got an exciting opportunity that I might have otherwise been too busy to take on. It was far from a perfect draft, but the bones were good. As luck would have it, Brian Freeman emailed me a few months later asking if I would be interested in submitting a story for consideration in his own Patreon page’s chapbook line. I said yes, of course! And then work on “Mr. Purple” began once again. Two years ago, I took a trip out to Seattle with a former college lacrosse teammate to visit with our old roommate for a week. I’m not normally a city guy, but I had a weird appreciation for Seattle, especially the Pike Place Market. It’s one of the few places I’ve felt connected to the urban American magic that so many others have described. It felt ordinary and bizarre all at once, and that’s what I think Mr. Purple is all about.

AN – Your chapbook is beautifully, amazingly, & frighteningly filled with art by the great talents of artist, Glenn Chadbourne. Tell us how that collaboration came about and what is it about Glenn’s art that impresses you so?
BC – I’ve always been a huge fan of Glenn’s work. It has such a visceral, gut-wrenching grotesqueness about it, a gritty texture that I think only a Maine artist could produce. I got a firsthand glimpse of that when he brought the Widow’s Point lighthouse to life! Before I’d ever even written the story, I fantasized about what a kickass job Glenn would do with Mr. Purple. When Brian asked me who I wanted for the job, I didn’t hesitate to name Mr. Chadbourne as my dream pick! And my gut feeling was absolutely right. Glenn fortunately loved the story and really made it his own. For every illustration where we were on the exact same wavelength, there was another where he took the dread a step further and painted a picture even worse than the one I’d imagined. Not to mention the stunning brush painting he did for the wraparound cover, a talent I didn’t even know he had! Between his artwork and Brian’s design, I really had a lot of help making a scary story!

AN – Parts of this book and the lead character, Mr. Purple himself, felt very Stephen King-influenced to me. Was the “master of horror” your inspiration? Is Mr. Purple your Pennywise the Dancing Clown, so to speak?
AN – Mr. Purple came from a few places, the first and foremost being a bathroom stall in the men’s room of the now derelict Baltimore Harbor Barnes & Noble. My dad and I found a creepy little piece of graffiti, one very similar to the drawing in the story, and could not get it out of our heads. For years, we thought about Mr. Purple. He haunted us, demanding to be written about, but I was in school and my old man was busy spending time with a girl named Gwendy, so it didn’t happen for a long time. That being said, Stephen King’s Pennywise and Randall Flagg were both huge inspirations! They represent opposite ends of evil, one a sheer force of malice and the other a cunning, manipulative demagogue. I think Mr. Purple is somewhere in the middle, as if a creature of Pennywise’s horribly cosmic origin wanted to play the role similar to Flagg’s in “The Stand” (though, I think Mr. Purple’s Las Vegas would look a lot more like the set of a “Succession” episode than Flagg’s)!

AN – What is Mr. Purple’s main objective in this story to the lead character (Ben) and to the reader of the story?
BC – He wants you to see him. He wants you to look at him. To admire him. To tell him he’s beautiful. He wants the main character, Ben, to want the purple and nothing else. He wants our frail world to worship him.

AN – Will we see Mr. Purple pop up again down the road?
BC – I wondered about that for a bit, but after this interview? I’m so excited about the one-eyed freak that I think I’ve got to write more!

AN – Lastly, what’s next for Billy, uhhh, W.H. Chizmar? Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
BC – Right now, I’m releasing my first solo novel on my Patreon page! So far, the first four 10,000+ word chapters are available for all Patrons and the fifth and final entry will be coming on September 1st. There are a few cool projects I can’t talk about yet, and a “Widow’s Point” graphic novel (illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne too!) coming soon, so stay tuned!

Well, there you have it! A sneak peek of what’s to come from author W.H. Chizmar. With such an impressive list of credits which now includes MR. PURPLE – Billy has proven to have many stories to tell. Thank you Billy, author W.H. Chizmar for taking the time to share a little about MR. PURPLE, and also letting us know what we can look forward to from you in the future.

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Posted in Fantasy and Horror and Interviews by Tony Northrup on September 4th, 2023 at %I:%M %p.

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