Clay Mcleod Chapman
Adjunct Professor, Playwriting, Actors Studio MFA
What is the central theme of your book?
Paranoia, for sure. What happens when we tell a white lie, only for that lie to take on a life of its own, consuming not only those around us, such as our loved ones, but also our own sense of self, until there's nothing left.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to explore the cyclical notion of paranoia, how history seems to be repeating itself. One could argue that the morally charged times we find ourselves in now are mere echoes to the Satanic Panic era of the 80s. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Why is this book important in your field? What does it contribute to the current body of knowledge on this topic?
This is a book of fiction. Horror fiction. I can't say for sure if I'm contributing anything of any import to my field, but I'm sure hoping to make it a little scarier.
Were students involved in any research related to your book? If so, please explain and name the student(s).
No students were harmed in the writing of this novel!
Tell me about a particularly special moment in writing this book.
There are two interlocking narratives here, both volleying back and forth between 1983 and 2013. These separate timelines form something of a discussion between each other, where one chapter in one timeline informs the following chapter in the parallel timeline, and back again. There would be certain discoveries I'd make as I was writing, epiphanies along the way, that would feel revelatory. Those were
What is the one thing you hope readers take away from your book?
Belief is stronger than fact. The truth isn't enough these days. We can create a rift, so many rifts, that pushes us further and further away from reality. Sometimes it's easier for us to believe in the Devil than it is to look inwardly and see the monster within ourselves.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your book?
Did I mention it's spooky? It's a spooky book! I hope...
What other books have you published?
This is my ninth book, along with Rest Area (2002), Miss Corpus (2003), Commencement (2010), The Tribe: Homeroom Headhunters (2013), The Tribe: Camp Cannibal (2014), The Tribe: Academic Assassins(2015), Nothing Untoward: Stories from ‘The Pumpkin Pie Show’ (2017), and The Remaking (2019).
I wanted to explore the cyclical notion of paranoia, how history seems to be repeating itself. One could argue that the morally charged times we find ourselves in now are mere echoes to the Satanic Panic era of the 80s.
When did you join Dyson?
I began teaching at the Actors Studio Drama School MFA Program at Pace back in 2008.
What motivates you as a teacher?
I'm extremely fortunate to work with writers who have their own stories to tell and get to help develop them.
What do you do in your spare time; to relax/unwind?
I'm a father of two, so spare time has become an extremely abstract term, but if I can ever sneak off to read a book or watch a movie, I'll take it.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished Wiley Cash's This Dark Road to Mercy and I'm about to begin Superstition by David Ambrose.