A short interview with author Ryan Cady on his contribution to The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, out now from IDW Publishing…
THE X-CAST: How did you come to be involved with Secret Agendas?
RYAN CADY: I’d known Jonathan Maberry through social media and the Horror Writer’s Association, and one day on the HWA Facebook page he put out an open call for X-Files pitches for the anthology – I guess they had a couple slots left. I pitched him “Kanashibari” off the bat and a month or so later he let me know I was in! I remember being stuck at a red light when I got the email and pulling over to read it, I was so excited.
T-XC: Have you always been a fan of The X-Files?
RC: Definitely. My grandmother and I were the only people in my house growing up who liked horror, so I have a lot of distinct memories of watching it with her. We were always big “Monster of the Week” people, and I think a lot of those episodes informed my approach to horror as a genre over the years.
TX-C: What made you choose the Kanashibari folk myth for your story?
RC: I used to experience sleep paralysis pretty regularly, and back in college I’d done a little reading on the kanashibari myth, and I’d always wanted to tell some kind of story with it, but I’d never really gotten around to putting one to paper. A couple years ago I was watching some Alien Abduction documentary thing, and they mentioned offhand that sleep paralysis could account for the entire phenomenon, and I was just so hooked on that explanation.
It really struck me as something Scully could latch onto and Mulder could look down his nose at, so when Jonathan called for pitches, those ideas just sort of came together.
TX-C: You tap into the heat of Los Angeles from Scully’s less than impressed perspective, and its Japanese community – do you feel these are areas that haven’t much been explored in The X-Files?
RC: I think L.A. in general, doesn’t get a lot of play in horror. It’s newer, it’s bright and sunny – I get it, that’s a tough setting for trying to be spooky. I liked the idea of Scully sort of rolling her eyes at the place, like, what can happen here that’s worse than all the crazy stuff I’ve seen so far?
And community-wise, X-Files was always really good about exploring these little pockets of America, and I’ve always felt like the really diverse and varied communities in Southern California are ripe with stories – and not just horror stuff, even though that’s our cup of tea.
TX-C: There’s a nice ambiguity as to whether either Mulder or Scully’s theories about what’s happening are right – was that intentional throughout?
RC: Absolutely. At the end of the day, two people working in close proximity like that are going to influence each other a lot, as we see in the show, and so I really wanted to dig into the doubt that Mulder’s “need to believe” would bring to a skeptic like Scully.
And as much as I think we all love Mulder, there’s a perverse kind of comfort in proving him wrong, proving that we’re safe and the monster isn’t real.
Although the ending of this story does leave a little room for monsters.
TX-C: Do you believe in the paranormal?
RC: You know, I’m not sure. I’m certainly something of a skeptic, but I was raised pretty religious, and I haven’t quite let go of some of my philosophical leanings there. The world is so big and so old and so strange, I think there might be some things lurking out there that just defy explanation.
Many thanks to Ryan for his time. You can follow him on Twitter @rycady.
Questions by Tony Black, who you can follow @Mr_AJ_Black.