Artist Spotlight: Kealan Patrick Burke

Hailed by BOOKLIST as “one of the most clever and original talents in contemporary horror,” KEALAN PATRICK BURKE was born and raised in Ireland and emigrated to the United States a few weeks before 9/11. Since then, he has written six novels, among them the popular southern gothic slasher KIN, and over two hundred short stories and novellas, including PEEKERS, and THE HOUSE ON ABIGAIL LANE, both of which are currently in development for TV.

A five-time Bram Stoker Award-nominee, Burke won the award in 2005 for his coming-of-age novella THE TURTLE BOY, the first book in the acclaimed TIMMY QUINN series.

As editor, he helmed the anthologies NIGHT VISIONS 12, TAVERNS OF THE DEAD, and QUIETLY NOW, a tribute anthology to one of Burke’s influences, the late Charles L. Grant.

He lives in an unhaunted house in Ohio with a Scooby Doo lookalike rescue pup named Red.

1. First John Carpenter memory?

Long before I even knew who John Carpenter was, I was familiar with his films, most notably Halloween, which was a perennial favorite, and The Fog, which was one of the first of his films I was exposed to. The latter had a profound effect on me because I grew up in a small harbor town in Ireland, and The Fog evoked so many familiar sensations as well as the maritime fears and superstitions that come with living so close to the sea. Every time I rewatch it, I’m back home again. It’s a fond memory.

2. How did you get started writing/drawing/lettering?

My mother was a voracious reader and passed that love along to me at a very early age. I was writing short stories by the time I was eight. Later, my high school English teacher further inflamed my love of the language and encouraged me to consider writing as a career, which I did.

3. How did you get involved with Storm King Comics?

Primarily through writer and SKC alum Steve Hoveke. He posted an image on Twitter of one of the Tales for a Halloween Night anthologies. Up until then, I hadn’t been aware of them. Without even thinking about whether it was appropriate or not, I tweeted to ask him (a) where I could buy the book, and (b) how I could write for it. He passed the message along to Sandy, who, thankfully, was wonderfully receptive to the idea.

4. Who are your idols/mentors?

There are so very many. My aforementioned high school English teacher encouraged my love of writing at every turn, even years after I graduated and right up until his death a few years ago. He was a wonderful person, and I doubt I’d be doing this without him.

On the literary side, I’m endlessly in awe of writers like John Connolly, Cormac McCarthy, Erik Larson, Caroline Kepnes, Stephen Graham Jones, Josh Malerman, Michael Marshall Smith, Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, Alma Katsu, Nathan Ballingrud, Laird Barron, and Dennis Lehane. There are about 1,000 more, but even if I listed them, I’d forget someone.

And of course, John Carpenter, whose films have been a massive inspiration.

5. What is the thing you geek out the most about and why?

Every time a new book of mine is released, I’m like a kid at Christmas. Opening that box and seeing the finished product for the first time is a thrill that never wanes. It makes all the long hours of isolation and uncertainty worth it. Also, videogames. I’m currently geeking out about the fact that we’re getting an Alan Wake sequel, and a Dead Space remake. And I’m pretty damn chuffed I got to write a graphic novel for Storm King.

6. Guilty pleasure….food? music? entertainment? Everyone needs an escape.

I don’t feel guilty about any of my pleasures. If something gives you pleasure, there’s no sense in feeling guilty about it, right? Okay, pickled beets. I get the sense my taste for them makes me a pariah. I’m also partial to romance movies if they’re well-written, though I suppose that’s my metric for all movies, no matter the genre.

7. The world has there anything you like in the post covid world?

Not much, if I’m honest, but it has forced upon me a level of focus and discipline I haven’t experienced in many years. I’d rather it not have come about as a result of a global pandemic, but the escalated level of creativity is a coping mechanism I’m lucky to have in these insane times. I’m also a fan of the dual-release model some studios have opted to take with their new movies. Call me gun-shy, but I’d much prefer to watch new releases at home for now.

8. What change would you like to see in the world?

Without hesitation, the end of this pandemic. And while we’re at it, let’s deal some finishing moves to racism, sexism, and hate.

9. Favorite 2021 memory?

Finishing a novel that’s been six years in the making, writing the Sour Candy graphic novel, taking a road trip to Yellowstone, and getting to see the folks back in Ireland before the travel restriction-window slammed shut.

10. What brings you joy?

Making people laugh, or scaring them, or both. Reading. It’s one of the last few uncomplicated pleasures. Getting to work with people I hold in high regard. Hearing from readers who’ve been moved by my work. Getting to be with family and friends. Joy seems harder to come by these days, but I’m lucky enough to have something to do to keep me from losing my mind completely, and for that, I’m endlessly grateful.

See Kealan Patrick Burke’s work in these Storm King releases:

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