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STEVE NILES
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DF Interview: Steve Niles weaves a Dark & Twisted story in ‘The Killing Hole’ OGN

 

By Byron Brewer

 

The year is 1979, and Stewart is a neglected 14-year-old living with his overworked divorced mother in a run-down apartment. He struggles in school, avoiding bullies and cliques, and finds solace in his friendship with Peter, the new kid in town. But as their bond deepens, they enter a world of darkness, turning this Gen X coming-of-age story on its head.

 

From Storm King Comics comes The Killing Hole, an original graphic novel written by Steve Niles with art by Trevor Denham. I sat down to discuss the coming-of-age tale with scribe Steve Niles.

 

Byron Brewer: Steve, what was the inspiration for The Killing Hole, truly an emotional and troubling story of alienated youth to the extreme?

Steve Niles: It's based on my own time and my own experiences. These are memories of my years growing up in Northern Virginia in the 70's. I grew up with my Mom, who was divorced, and my two older sisters. I spent most of my time alone. I originally wrote a version of the story back in the 1990's but recently I thought I’d expand it to a larger story. A lot of it is based on true events, but I exaggerated quite a bit for effect.

 

Byron: I love your framing method of a confession being given by an elderly gentleman and to the flashback/main tale. It is at once very familiar and very fresh. Every writer knows the most difficult thing to do with a story is start it. How did this method come about? I find this type of insight endlessly fascinating.

 

Steve Niles: Thank you for that. Being older now, I felt that there would be a serious perspective change between the young Stewart and the older Stewart, so it made sense to begin the story in this way. I wanted to track the consequences of what happened as well.

 

Byron: Introduce our two protagonists please: teen boys Stewart and Peter. What can you tell readers about their lives as we first meet them as they meet each other in 1979? Who were they, who are they, who are they together?

 

Steve Niles: Stewart and Peter are lost kids. Odd, weird kids who don't fit in anywhere. Both dealing with single mothers after divorce, both having to take a lot of anger from the choices their parents made. Both of them are loners, seeing the cliques in school from the outside. So together, they find a bond and acceptance. They create their own union of best friendship, their own clique.

 

Byron: This may be self-evident in the OGN, but why do adults around the boys disapprove of their fast friendship? Will the family lives of Stewart and Peter be a major part of Killing Hole?

 

Steve Niles: Well together, they get into trouble by egging the other on, they skip school together, get high together... so adults aren't really happy about it. I don't know if their family lives are physically a major part, I would say the lack of the family plays a major part.

 

Byron: I find it fascinating that the underlying foundation of this book is firmly established in the pre-technology days of the late ‘70s. Those like me who WERE teenagers at that time have difficulty nowadays actually recognizing how much has changed… until you look back and contemplate such things, then WOW! Talk about rooting the story’s beginning in this decade.

 

Steve Niles: I open it with kids standing at a school bus stop, all the kids standing together – nervous, in cliques, or alone, just holding their books and trying to deal with their own silent anxieties on the way to school – I think it was a good way to begin the story. It has to be alien to young people now on how we grew up.

 

Byron: I can imagine that teen angst, bullying and, of course, alienation play roles in the drama of the OGN. Without spoilers, can you at least hint from the writer’s perspective about what develops with these fast friends in their sanctum sanctorum, their fortress of solitude, their safe place: an underground bunker?

 

Steve Niles: Imagine being a kid like this, picked on at every turn in life, having a place to go to where no one – school, bullies, screaming parents – can find you. You can truly be yourself, blast music, scream, sing, laugh, read anything you want, talk about anything you want, it's a strange freedom.

 

Byron: Talk about the awesome art of Trevor Denham and your collaboration on The Killing Hole.

 

Steve Niles: Trevor's drawing skills are incredible. He and Ryan Winn brought so much to the book. I think his use of hand-drawn textures, and his ability of showing emotion – he takes it to the surreal at times, but it works perfectly. I honestly couldn’t be happier with the way the book turned out.

 

Dynamic Forces would like to thank Steve Niles for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. The Killing Hole OGN from Storm King Comics is slated to be on sale July 10!

  



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