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Seth Grahame-Smith Touts New Novel 'Unholy Night,' Discusses Movie Schedule and Collaborating With Tim Burton (Q&A)

THR: Who were your influences growing up?

SGS: I grew up in a very book friendly household. My mother was the editor for a small Connecticut publisher. My stepfather was a rare used-book dealer so we had five thousand books in shelves in our basement, which had been converted into a library.

I always loved to read, but when I was twelve I got interested in genre, specifically Stephen King. I read the whole canon, got everything I could get my hands on. Every birthday gift was a new Stephen King or a first edition. I worshipped unapologetically at the altar of Stephen King and still do in way that's probably detrimental to my own development as a writer. It’s always nice to have a variety of influences. I was so mono-focused on one writer, on imitating him, on reading and rereading one writer in particular, everything he wrote no matter he wrote that's my fear. I also loved Bradbury and Asimov. I read Koontz and Orson Scott Card.

But King always has a special place in my heart. He has such a simple and direct way of telling stories and such an exciting way of pulling you through narrative. Also, I can't help but be in awe of how prolific he is and how consistent he is.

THR: Me too. He writes smart genre.

SGS: He cares about character. He knows his way around those dark corners of genre, how to write to great effect, how to imagine and feel -- but it's always the "But." He's very imaginative. He likes to play in a lot of different sandboxes. I really admire that and always have and only recently have I been able to articulate what that idol worship was between me and Stephen King .

THR: The movie rights to Unholy Night have been optioned. When might we see that on the big screen and what do you have coming up next?

SGS: My company is producing it with Heyday David Heyman's company and its the next the script on my docket to write. I'm right in the middle of writing an animated movie for Tim Burton right now called Night of the Living.

THR:  Weren’t you going to do a movie set in the a cemetery?

SG-S:That's Living in the Necropolis, which is a book we optioned and have a writer on now. Night of the Living is an idea I have had around for years that I'm doing with Tim Burton. When we were shooting Dark Shadows last year I worked up the nerve to tell Tim about it because I always thought it would make a good movie. When I saw what he had done with Frankweenie and Corpse Bride, it always struck me as a great idea for that form. I'm writing it at Warner's Bros. for him (as a stop-motion monster movie). As soon I'm done with that draft, I'll move into Unholy Night, probably in a matter of weeks. Once we have a script and we'll get together with David Heyman and the studio, we'll go looking for a director.

THR: Where does Beetlejuice fit in your schedule?

SGS:The Beetlejuice sequel will come after Unholy Night in my schedule. The first opportunity to tackle that will probably be later this year.