Author Q&A: Mark Onspaugh

"A Lullaby For Caliban" by Mark Onspaugh is a classic coming-of-age tale that brings to mind the best work of Ray Bradbury and Stephen King. As a horror story, it also packs quite a wallop. We wanted to find out about what inspired the carnival sideshow setting of the story, and learn more about this multi-talented writer. Here's what he had to say...

What inspired you to write "A Lullaby for Caliban"?
I have always been fascinated with sideshows and carnivals. I wanted to write something that evoked the awful fascination and dread, but also show that those "monsters" are members of a community with families and a wide range of emotions.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
My dad was a writer and read a lot of science fiction - I read as many of the books on his shelf as I could get my hands on. I started writing stories in elementary school.

Have you ever visited a carnival sideshow?
Yes, but it's funny, I now get my actual visits to little carnivals and fairs confused with stuff I read (Bradbury, Bloch), movies ("The Other", "Something Wicked This Way Comes") and television ("The Jar" on Alfred Hitchcock, based on a story by Bradbury). So now I have a very colorful past.

Who are some of your favorite writers?
Robert Sheckley, Ray Bradbury, Eric Frank Russell, Stephen King, Robert McCammon.

What's the scariest thing you've ever found in a jar?
When I was ten I punctured a can of Beefaroni with a can opener then changed my mind and put it back in the cupboard... When I opened it a week later, it was pretty unpleasant... I've also found jars filled with black widow spiders, and they always creep me out.

Are there any upcoming projects or publications that you would like to share with us?
My film "Kill Katie Malone" is now on VOD, and I have a semi-autobiographical essay about movie monsters in Butcher Knives and Body Counts, a book of essays on slasher films edited by Vince Liaguno. Joe McKinney and I are editing an anthology of stories about abandoned buildings and desolate places called The Forsaken - I will have a story in that one about an abandoned kiddie park. I also have a story in the upcoming Blood Lite III edited by Kevin J. Anderson. I'd also like people to know they can visit my website or my Facebook page "Out of My Mind - Fiction and Film from Mark Onspaugh". Thanks!

"A Lullaby for Caliban" appears in One Buck Horror: Volume One, on sale now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.


AJArmitt's picture

Hi Mark,

'A Lullaby for Caliban' was probably my favourite story in Volume One. It reminded me a little of the more traditional horror stories that I read in my youth, and yet it still felt fresh. Really well done.


Gerardo's picture

I have read Mark's The Broken Hand Mirror of Venus so I look forward to reading this one too.
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