Interview w/ Brian Solomon from The Vault of Horror
Just like in real life, the horror blogosphere is full of all different types of individuals. Fortunately, since first founding Strange Kids Club only a little over a year ago, I’ve had the pleasure to meet a large number of these fellow horror fans, sharing the experiences in a virtual world of our common interests. There are so many more blogs, however, whose fear-fueled fandom I’ve yet to truly scratch the surface of such as this week’s haunt du jour, Brian Solomon’s The Vault of Horror.
There’s no question that Brian, in his inherit love of the genre, has played equal parts mentor and like-minded fanboy to a number of horror bloggers and continues to do so every week whether is be through multi-site blogging events such as The Lucky 13 or his podcast series Conversations in the Dark. Having followed The Vault myself for some time, I finally decided to get off the sidelines and dig a little deeper into what makes this Vaultkeeper tick. Luckily Brian, the amiable guy that he is, was more than willing to ablige my request. What follows is a brief glimpse behind the mind of of a madman… or a monster, I’m not sure just yet which. Enjoy.
I think the reference is unmistakable, but what made you choose ‘The Vault of Horror’ as the title of your blog? Do you have a special affinity towards the comic I book or film?
I do have a great love for the old E.C. comics, which is something that was passed on to me from my dad, who read them when they were first being published. But beyond that, I chose the name because I felt like it was something all-encompassing, which is what I wanted the blog to be. I wanted to cover as much of the horror genre as I could manage. I had no interest in specializing.
What was your first experience with horror and how has it helped to define your fascination with fear?
I think my earliest experiences came from watching syndicated TV on weekend afternoons as a small child. At the time, in the late 1970s, and early 1980s, you could find so many classic genre films being shown on regular TV right in the middle of the day. It was a great time, and I got exposed to a lot of the Universal and Hammer gems as a result, as well as so many of the cold war-era radioactive monster movies and stuff like that. Seeing these movies helped me not only appreciate horror, but also relate it in my mind with something fun.
Photo courtesy of Brian Solomon
What elements do you feel make the horror genre so captivating to younger viewers (tweens and teens)?
I think it’s much more the other way around. The film industry recognizes the money to be made from kids that age, the ones with all the disposable income. It’s been that way for decades. That’s why so much of our entertainment and pop culture is geared toward them and designed to empower them. Because Hollywood wants their money! But aside from that cynical take, as someone who discovered horror as a kid myself, I will say that there will always be something about the fantastical that captures the imagination of a child, whether it be in the form of wish fulfillment, or of nightmares become reality. Kids are more open to that sort of stuff.
Speaking of younger viewers, your daughter (aka Zombelina) has contributed to your blog on several occasions. Has she always displayed a natural interest in horror and/or blogging?
It’s more because she happens to be my daughter, I guess. I made sure, with both she and her brother, that they were exposed to the kind of stuff that brought me such joy as a kid. I think children are fed a lot of crap these days, and I wanted to counteract that–so I work to expose them to forms of popular entertainment I feel will stimulate their imaginations, and I think certain types of horror are definitely in that category. She loves it! She recently begged me to let her watch Jaws, and went to her summer camp’s costume day dressed as the Bride of Frankenstein.
Photo courtesy of Brian Solomon
She also has her own blog called Book Town. How did that get started?
Well, thanks for mentioning that–she’s very proud of it. She took an instant interest in what I was doing online, but I didn’t always feel comfortable letting her read The Vault of Horror at her age. She wanted to be like daddy and start her own blog, so I figured, why not? We came up with a topic, namely children’s book reviews, and I helped her get it started and maintain it. As far as I know, at 8 years of age she’s one of the youngest bloggers in existence, and i couldn’t be more proud of her.
I’ve met several individuals in the horror blogosphere that credit you as their inspiration and mentor, a sort of zombified Obi-Wan Kenobi. In your opinion, what’s the significance of cultivating fellowship within the horror blogging community?
I think it goes hand-in-hand with blogging, period. It’s part of the deal. Blogging is, for the most part, an amateur pursuit–meaning something we do purely for the love of it. With such an endeavor, it is not only helpful to yourself, but also helps create a useful sense of community to reach out to others and establish a network. This is especially true once you’ve learned the ropes, since you then have the opportunity to help others starting out as you did.
I take pride in trying to help whenever I can. The one blogger I think I’ve been more of an “Obi-Wan” too than anyone else would be BJ-C of Day of the Woman, someone I recognized right off the bat as being a great talent that deserved to be heard. I’ve been blessed to interact with so many other very gifted individuals over the last three years, and if I’ve been able to assist or inspire them in any way, then that’s just about the greatest compliment as a writer that I can imagine.
Photo courtesy of Brian Solomon
You’ve been named as an Honorable Mention for the Best Horror Blog by the Rondo Awards for two years now, how does it feel to be recognized for your work?
I couldn’t believe that I was even nominated at all, let alone got Honorable Mention. The first time it happened, I didn’t even realize that many people had even heard of The Vault of Horror! It was a pleasant surprise, and a sign that maybe I was doing something right and people liked it. I can’t believe it’s happened two years in a row. Next time out, my humble goal is to be among the runners-up!
If you could give any advice to other aspiring bloggers what would it be?
If you’ve made the decision to create a blog, do it because you love it, first and foremost. Because you love your chosen topic, and/or because you love to write, plain and simple. Don’t do it for the chief purpose of some kind of half-assed internet fame. There’s nothing wrong with promoting your work, if that’s the approach you choose to take–I did, and I think it’s also wrong to shame bloggers for trying to promote their work. If they’re proud enough of what they’ve done that they want to share it, good for them.
By the same token, I really feel that unless your blog is specifically personal in nature, i.e. something in the style of LiveJournal, you should really stay away from making it about yourself. I know I try to interweave myself and my own life into it only when it pertains to the topic at hand. You have to realize, especially in the beginning, that nobody really cares who you are. Harsh, but true. They’re interested in reading about whatever it is your blog purports to be about–so make it about that.
Photo courtesy of Brian Solomon
Not that long ago, you became a part-time contributor of Blood Sprayer. How did that relationship come about and do you find it difficult to juggle between it and The Vault of Horror?
That came about because of two very dear friends, BJ-C and Kristy Jett. BJ and Kristy had become very good friends and came to appreciate each other’s work. BJ was brought on as one of the earliest members of the Blood Sprayer crew. When the site was looking to expand its roster and score more members from the horror blogging community, I think they had been interested in approaching me, and BJ encouraged them to do it. It was an honor to be asked, and I’ve enjoyed being a part of it, even if I wish I could do more. The Vault always comes first, of course, but I try to make my Blood Sprayer column, Waiting for Cthulhu, unique, in that it focuses mainly on my experiences as a developing horror fan over the years. If I have an idea that fits that theme very well, I’ll hold off on using it for the Vault, and save it for Blood Sprayer.
Your summer-long collaborative blogging event with Brutal as Hell, The Lucky 13, just saw its conclusion recently. What was the concept behind that project and how did it evolve as it progressed?
That started thanks to a day-long conversation on Twitter that happened involving myself, BAH editor Marc Patterson, and one of my main contributing VOH writers, Paige MacGregor. We were talking about what our favorite horror films of all time were, and we sort of challenged each other to put something together on that very subject on our respective sites. Once Marc and I put our heads together, we came up with the concept of breaking it down into a series of sub-genres, with everyone picking their favorites in each one. As we went along, I started inviting more and more writers to take part, which I think made it even more interesting, and more fun.
What’s the strangest thing you remember doing as a kid?
A lot of people talk a good game about loving zombies and all that, but I’m very proud to say that I’ve actually eaten brains. OK, maybe not human brains, but brains nonetheless. Cow brains, to be specific. Brain salad is a bit of a Sicilian delicacy, and my great aunt used to make it every year for Easter when I was a kid. I didn’t even really understand what it was–I thought it was some kind of vegetable or something. You’d think that calling it “brain salad” would be a dead giveaway, but apparently not.