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P.  D.  C A C E K

(excerpted from Locus Magazine, November 1998)
P. D. Cacek
    Photo by Beth Gwinn

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contains ''Dust Motes''

P.D. [''Trish''] Cacek was born Patricia Munn in Hollywood CA, December 22, 1951. She attended Hollywood High, and graduated from Cal State - Long Beach in 1975, with a B.A. in English/Creative Writing. While at college, she met her husband, Joe Cacek, Jr. They married in 1977 and have two sons. She notes she is a ''licensed Wilderness Survival Instructor ... and Urban Survivor.'' Her first published genre story, dark SF ''Tomb w/ View'', appeared in 1991, and she has now had many works published in various anthologies and magazines. Her collection Leavings appeared from StarsEnd Creations in 1997. Vampire novel Night Prayers came out this year from The Design Image Group. She has also had three chapbooks published, Mid-Wife Crisis (1994), The Ancient One (1995), and The Adventures of Threadwell the Tailor (1998). Her story ''Metalica'' won a Stoker Award in 1996, and "Dust Motes" just won the 1998 World Fantasy Award as best short fiction.

''My full name is Patricia Diana Joy Anne Cacek a wonderful name for a romance writer! That's why I go by P.D. People who don't really know me say, 'How can you write horror? You're happy, you're funny....' Yeah, but I've always enjoyed scaring people.

''In college, I was 'Clancy' Clancy's the one who wrote my first novel, Night Prayers, the one who made you laugh for a week. That's a very easy thing for me to get into, the clown. Serial killer William Gacey thought everybody loves a clown. I knew from day one there was something behind that mask, that clown makeup, that I didn't want to see. But I can put it on instantly.

''Night Prayers is a vampire novel. I had fun writing this, because I am kind of poking fun at the legend. I like to do that. It's like the young Goths have decided it's going to be very romantic, very entertaining, so the genre has developed to go to that. It's very commercial.

'''Metalica' appeared in an erotic horror anthology and won a Stoker Award, but put this on record: it's not a fantasy of mine. It's the touching story of a woman who cannot connect with people, and has never had a good male relationship, so she develops this life where her only sexual release is from gynecological exams with the speculum and the swab. It was a challenge to come up with something that might turn someone on, and I was amazed at how many men were affected. Sex only really occurs between the ears or that's where it starts. That's the buildup. And then the physical.

''I read it at the Stoker Awards last year, and the women would nod, and the guys would squirm. I think I opened a door that most men never even want to see, or think about. And I thought, 'This is my turning-point story I'll be the Speculum Lady for the rest of my career!' But the story line suddenly got important while I was writing it, and that's why I couldn't get turned on. I'd created this real person with a real problem.

''Occasionally, a story will just say, 'I have to be written. Write me now.' I usually hate first-person stories, because the narrator can't be startled. But 'Dust Motes', from the Gothic Ghosts anthology, is a first-person story. It just wrote itself that way!

''The narrator is a woman who's had a mastectomy and is still undergoing radiation, who can't stay in the house anymore. She has to get out of the house, so she goes to the library, and there she sees all these people who have time on their hands to read, to enjoy life, to anticipate tomorrow, and she gets very angry that she doesn't. She meets a ghost in the library who tells her why she can see him: 'You're straddling the line between life and death.' The ghosts are in the library because they have to tell the story of what made them special.

''As I was writing it, I stopped at that point and said, 'OK, what makes people special?' It's not that they gave 60 billion dollars to cancer research or walked on the moon, etc. It's whatever made them special. Very small things, like saving a puppy from being killed or scaring a rat away from a baby sister, or getting an 'A' in a spelling test or getting a picture on the wall of a schoolroom. Yeah, that's what makes us special! What we think, not what anybody else thinks. At the very end, the woman has gone into remission, so the ghosts disappear. She hopes somebody else will come in and see them, because she doesn't know if the ghosts are gone. People like that story. I like that story.

''I would love to see horror go back to the traditional, back to the stuff you want to read by candlelight, and if you hear something while you're reading, the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, because you've gotten into the feeling. If you see the monster, it's not scary. If you just hear the monster, if you know the monster's in the shadow, that's the horror. Horror is a feeling: knowing something's out there. Terror is seeing that something. I may write a werewolf story or what is now considered traditional horror, but I want to get back to the bones of horror, and start rebuilding.

''I'm working on a couple of novels. One is a horror novel, working title Cat Scratch Fever, that's kind of Needful Things meets The Cat People. An Egyptian goddess comes to this small Colorado town and tries to reestablish the Thoth culture, because the goddess needs to appear to fight the demons that appear once every millennium not our millennium, but whatever millennium they are at. It happens to coincide this time. The viewpoint character doesn't know if people are going crazy or if she's going crazy, and I like to keep it a question.

© 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.