‘Ghost Riders’ book reveals beloved image of a horror classic

Written by By Daina Beth Solomon, CNN Contributors John J. McShane is a best-selling author, paranormal and literary thriller enthusiast and according to the reviews page of the Library of America anthology “Ghost Riders:…

'Ghost Riders' book reveals beloved image of a horror classic

Written by By Daina Beth Solomon, CNN Contributors

John J. McShane is a best-selling author, paranormal and literary thriller enthusiast and according to the reviews page of the Library of America anthology “Ghost Riders: The Legends of Vampire and the Devil,” “champion of the paranormals for over 40 years.”

During his writing career, McShane appears on game shows such as “The Dating Game” and “Jeopardy!” He is the author of the very popular vampire series “The Bonesetter’s Daughter” and has won the New York Times Award for Best Short Story on three occasions. Most recently, he scored the surprise best-seller “American Nightmare: Return of the Vampire Strangler,” the story which inspired HBO’s new series “True Detective.”

John J. McShane starred in “American Werewolf in London” Credit: RALPH BURGESS

McShane, along with award-winning illustrator Philip Wylie, and prolific author Harlan Ellison, has created a picture book in “Ghost Riders: The Ghost Riders of the Forgotten Frontier,” a collection of stories around the supernatural landscape of America’s frontier days.

During a telephone interview, McShane recalled a time when Halloween was right around the corner.

John J. McShane with Hall & Oates in 1985 Credit: Getty Images

“I was about 12 years old, and Halloween was a monster on the doorstep,” he said. “A lot of times you’d see people coming out dressed up as skeletons or as things that don’t really exist in our world anymore — flying saucers, things flying in space — in order to try and get your parents’ attention.

“I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember, and Halloween was that big American holiday that happened and went on all year long. It was that thing that you tried and tried and tried to hit with your house lights on.”

According to McShane, the way that Halloween has become associated with violence is rooted in the origins of the holiday.

“Halloween is one of the earliest examples of celebrating Halloween,” McShane said. “It’s something that has now gone on into the modern age. The roots of the magic and the folklore of Halloween were actually very early, they had roots in the druids and they had roots in witches and other types of elder magic.”

John J. McShane with Sean Connery and Glenn Close in “Shadowlands” Credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

“Ghost Riders: The Ghost Riders of the Forgotten Frontier” draws inspiration from vintage Halloween. The illustrations are inspired by one of McShane’s favorite animated films, the 1940s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

“It has a number of references and the illustration that I used for this book was drawn for “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” McShane said. “I like that movie. I like working with Philip as well.”

During the interview, McShane revealed that he once ran into Hall & Oates on the set of their 1982 film “Shadowlands.” Hall & Oates opened up for them, and later, played him some of their music.

“I didn’t know what to do,” McShane recalled. “They had this little piano right behind them, and they had all these lights on, and I was singing songs off the album [‘Music From the Movies’]. I’m up there, and everything is going great, but to this day, I don’t know who the heck they are.”

“‘Wait,” Hall & Oates said. “‘We’re Hall & Oates.’

“I walk off, and Hall & Oates weren’t even drunk! They were pretty much sober. They don’t look like they’re, to me, too crazy — but they’re both really famous!”

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