Good day to you Professor Charles F. French! Thank you for taking time in your busy schedule, between teaching literature at two universities in eastern Pennsylvania and writing great horror novels! I just read your latest horror novel, Gallows Hill, and it is a blockbuster of a horror novel! I am very interested in discovering more about why reading, writing, and teaching is the love of your life. Thank you for answering the following questions. I know your readers are as anxious to know all about you as I am.
- How old were you when you started reading books?
I was three years old I believe. I know I cannot remember not being able to read, and I know that my mom always read to me from a very young age.
- What kind of books, when you were a child, interested you the most?
I loved reading any kind of adventure, fantasy, or science-fiction the most. By the time I was in elementary school, I remember reading the Tarzan series and several of the Jules Verne novels such as Journey to the Center of the Earth and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
- What is the name of your favorite book when you were a teenager?
This is a more difficult question to narrow down to one at that time, but if I had to choose one, it was Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse, a novel about two friends of different backgrounds and interests and how their lives intertwined. When I was a teenager, exploration of mysticism and spirituality, both issues in this novel, were a part of many people’s lives.
- What was it that made you interested in writing books about horror stories?
I have enjoyed horror novels and movies since I was young. I read both Frankenstein and Dracula as a young teenager, and I always enjoyed the Universal Studios horror movies of the 1930s and 1940s. As I grew, I came to understand that horror in novels is often a metaphor for the true horror of the world. I do not see it as a way to escape reality, although reading is very useful to do that and it is fun, but as a prism or lens through which light can be focused on very real problems in life. Does that make sense? So, I have tried both to tell interesting stories in my writing but also to explore important problems in the world in them.
- What made you want to be a professor of literature?
I originally wanted to be an actor. Theater was my first love in terms of profession, but I soon found out that I was not good enough to stand out from the others and unlikely to make a living from it. I also did not want to spend at least 20 years trying to make it as an actor. My whole life story is one of following unusual paths, but without going into great detail, I will say that I had dropped out of college, then after working as a steel-worker for several years, wanted to go back to school. I did return to college while working full-time as a janitor. I earned my degree as an adult student, and I realized then that I had both a talent and a passion for teaching, so my course was set.
- Why do you think it is important to spend a great deal of your time mentoring?
I have had the good fortune in my life to have had several professors go out of their ways to help me when I needed it the most. As I have become older, I realized that not only do I have much to pass along as a teacher of literature, but also I can offer whatever knowledge I have to younger people, including adult students, about life, books, and writing. I hope I do not sound full of myself in this answer.
Tuesday, February 27 – Part 2 of my Interview with Charles F. French, Writer and Author!
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