An Unlikely Mini-Interview with Derek Manuel

Do you find clowns to be a) creepy b) downright terrifying c) mildly amusing d) laugh out loud funny e) some combination of the above or f) none of the above (please supply your own alternate adjective/description)?

I think of clowns in three dimensions: funny, scary, and sad. A clown can be all three of those things but almost certainly has to be at least two of them. If a clown can somehow be funny without being either scary or sad, I’ve never seen a clown like that.

On a related note, what is you earliest clown-related memory, and how did it scar you and or shape your view of clowns?

I’m not sure, but I think the first clown I encountered was probably the mascot for a well-known fast food eatery. That character didn’t do much to influence my views on clowns in general. I always saw him as a special case, affable and relatable in a way that real circus clowns weren’t. As an adult, I see him as the smiling face of an insidious marketing machine, almost like a mild take on the horror trope that clowns have become in recent years.

What lead you to take the particular approach to clowns you used in your story, Five Things Every Successful Clown Must Do?

My clown story came together in exactly the way stories I’m writing usually don’t. I read the call for the Journal, immediately knew I wanted to write something for it, and got down to it. I knew I couldn’t write anything about a serial killer clown, and I enjoy making monsters protagonists without sacrificing what makes them monsters. The “romance” was the last element to come to me, but it felt completely right, and the story almost wrote itself. I think I wrote a story about a clown who is funny, scary, and a little sad, and I hope I wrote a story that people will enjoy reading.

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