Friday the 13th novelist William Pattison (aka Eric Morse) speaks with Fridaythe13thfilms

Interviews May 20th, 2008

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Back in 1994, Berkley Publishing picked up right where “Jason Goes to Hell” ended with the introduction of a series of novels for young adults known as the “Friday the 13th: Camp Crystal Lake Novels”. In this series, we see various people become possessed by placing the resurfaced mask of Jason Voorhees. Though seemingly overlooked during their initial release, these novels have become hot commodity in recent years amongst Friday the 13th fans and collectors. Often fetching fair prices on the second hand market for mint condition books, these novels feature some of the most unique works associated with the Friday the 13th lore. Penned by a man by the name of William Pattison, under the pen name Eric Morse, the “Jasonless” novels actually managed to maintain the feel of the first six Friday the 13th films to a degree that a lot of similar attempts since, have failed to do. Fridaythe13thfilms.com caught up with William Pattison to discuss how he came to be chosen to write these novels, where he went with the series, where he wanted to go, and what Friday the 13th related projects he is currently involved in.

FRIDAY THE 13TH FILMS: What is your favorite entry in the Friday the 13th series and what are your earliest memories of the series?

WILLIAM PATTISON: I have to admit that I really don’t have one stand out favorite F13 movie. The ones that stand out to me as the best written were Part 1 thru 6. I was not overly happy with part 7 or 8. Though I do have to admit that I found some of the content of Part 8 inspirational for my final Camp Crystal Lake novel I’m publishing on the net.

As for my earliest memory, I remember going to the first showing of Friday the 13th with my mother at the old Manor Theatre in San Mateo. I remember throughly enjoying watching my mother jump at the shock scenes. And, I remember nearly jumping out of my skin when Jason jumped out of the water and grabbed Alice. My mother and I always used to go to the horror movies together. She loved horror and imprinted that love on me from an early age

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Click book covers to enlarge

F13F: Back in 1994, you penned some of the best Friday the 13th literature ever released in the form of the “Camp Crystal Lake Novels”. How did the opportunity arise to be able to write such material?

WP: Most people I tell this story to find it amusing because it is totally sterotypical. It was literally the fact that I knew someone who had a cousin in the publishing business.

In this case it was a lovely lady named Charisma Jones. Charisma work with me as an early morning stocker at our local Kmart. Charisma enjoyed sci fi and horror like me so we usually taked about them as we stocked shelves. I even made her copies of some of my fan fiction and let her read some early chapters for a sci fi novel I was working on, The Traveler: A Conflict of Interest.

Charisma was really close to her cousin, who worked for Berkley Books. One day she came to me and told me that her cousin told her that Berkley had made arrangments with New Line Cinema to do a series of Friday the 13th novels. She told me the first thing that went through her head was that I was the guy to write those books.

At first I was less than sold on the idea. At that time New Line had just released JASON GOES TO HELL and it looked like the series was at an end. Also, I was in the middle of writing my sci fi novel and didn’t really want my name associated with a dying series. Still after some very strong prodding from both Charisma and my mother I finally relented and sent Charisma’s cousin a sample of my writing and treatments for four novels: The Mask of Jason Voorhees, Mother’s Day, Jason’s Curse, and The Carnival.

Of course later Berkley rejected the treatment for The Mask of Jason Voorhees and had me revise the treatments for the other three novels. Then I had to come up with another treatment to fill out the gap left by the loss of The Mask of Jason Voorhees. This last treatment became Road Trip.

F13F: You wrote the novels under the pen name “Eric Morse”. Where did that name come from?

WP: To protect my real name, because I wanted to use it when I tried to publish my sci fi novel I made the descision to use a pen name. I got the name Eric from The Phantom of the Opera. For years I’ve said that I got the last name of Morse from a detective I enjoyed watch on Mystery on PBS. The truth is I got Morse from the name of the street a woman I loved lived at.

F13F: The first novel, “Mothers Day”, seems to take place shortly after the film “Jason Goes to Hell” and features the return of Pamela Voorhees in a sense. Where you given any guidelines before writing the novels as far as when (chronologically) the novels were to take place, as well as what characters you could or couldn’t use or bring back to the storyline, or were you pretty much given free reign to craft this material in any way you saw fit?

WP: When I started the only guidline was that these novels had to take place after JASON GOES TO HELL. This was because this was the Jason film New Line owned.

After I wrote the treatments Berkley decided the one thing they wanted to take from the rejected Mask of Jason Voorhees was the possessed mask idea. They decided for me to elaborated on this and make this a part of the other stories as well. Then later, during editing they started editing out most of my references to the other movies. I was actually surprised, and releaved, they left Mrs. Voorhees in Mother’s Day. They edited out whole subplots I worked in dealing with the spirits of Jason’s victims.

F13F: In the novels, Jason Voorhees never actually makes an appearance. Instead, a very diverse group of characters seem to become “possessed” by the spirit of Jason. The idea of being put inside their head to hear their thoughts behind the mask was one of the most interesting elements of the series.

WP: I felt that it was very important to get in the heads of these characters. This way I could show a complete character rather than a mere puppet or Jason impersonator. It also made the mask a character unto itself in that with each person the mask had to find a strategic way to control the person and make them do it’s bidding.

F13F: You are obviously quite a fan of the series and very familiar with the tone of the films. Your novels managed to capture the feel of the movies to a degree that some other works have not even without having Jason Voorhees actually appear in the stories. Did you go through the entire series before writing or did you pretty much know the tone and feel of the films by heart?

WP: I was a real fan of the films and simply wrote the books the way I thought they should be written. The main thing I was looking for was to take the sterotypical characters and make them a bit more rounded. The one thing that I figured out by watch slasher and other horror films was that the secret to really scare a person is to make them relate to the victim. If you connect the viewer to the person getting killed the person’s reaction will be stronger than if they are watching a one dimensional sterotype who is just there to be setup for the kill. This is actually the weakness that a lot of modern slasher films have. The filmmakers are more interested in the kill than in actually creating full characters.

F13F: In the novel “Jason’s Curse”, we are introduced to the character “Big Red”. It has been said in some circles that the character of Big Red was probably the closest to Jason of those to don the mask in this series. Was this intentional or were you just trying to be diverse in those you decided to put the mask on?

WP: I’ve heard the same thing. In actuality Big Red came about because I wanted to explore the world of the abused child getting revenge on those who hurt him. He is in actuality the opposite of Jason in that Jason had a mother who really loved him. He was never an abused child. He came from a loving home. Though Jason’s father , Elias, was a bit old fashioned and strict because of his Menonite upringing he was still a loving father. Red’s family was not and he bore both the physical as well as the mental scars of this. The only thing he shares with Jason is his hulking appearance.

F13F: It’s always been a cliche in the films that someone had to survive at the end of the films. “Jason’s Curse” brought an element into the “Friday the 13th” world that had never been explored. This was the idea of no “final survivor”. Was this something you felt had been missing from the series of films?

WP: At the time I simply thought it was a better way to end the story and after the beating Kelly took it would have been too cliché for the cavalry to come and save her before she bled to death. I hate when stories end like that, it cheapens it.

F13F: “The Carnival” brought a very interesting setting to the series when a traveling carnival rolls into town and sets up shop in Crystal Lake. How did this idea come about?

WP: I’m a HUGE fan of Ray Bradbury. One of my favorite novels is Something Wicked This Way Comes.

I’ve always wanted to write a homage to Ray and thought I wouldn’t get a better chance .
Originally, the story was about a supernatural carnival that was drawn to Crystal Lake because of the opened hell mouth that was opened when Jason was released from Hell. Of course after The Mask of Jason Voorhees was rejected and I was forced to revise the treatments to reflect the possessed mask storyline I decided to radically alter this story to reflect the idea that the evil of the mask was growing and that the very ground around Camp Crystal Lake was diseased with evil and that evil would even infect inanimate objects.

This is also why I had the scene where car attacks Teddy in Road Trip.

F13F: The Friday the 13th series has always been known for having very creative death sequences. Your novels continued that trend throughout. One of the more creative kills took place in the novel “Road Trip” and involved the “Jason Possessed” Teddy getting his revenge on another character by creatively killing them using his school mascot bee costume. How much thought did you put into each kill sequence or were they pretty easy to come up with?

WP: Coming up with a creative kill is a very difficult job. For a kill to be really mind blowing there has to be a very personal aspect to it. In the killing you mentioned from Road Trip I set that one up at the beginning of the book. You see I mentioned the fact that the character, Missy, enjoyed knitting and did her knitting when she was bored and on the road traveling with the cheerleader crew. So when we find out that not only did Teddy stab Missy with his stinger (note: some fans have accused me of blatant sexual imagery with this scene) but also it turns out with Missy’s own knitting needles it makes the scene that much more intense. I do very much the same thing in The Mask of Jason Voorhees when I have the killer kill the coroner’s secretary with her own feather boa.

F13F: Also in the novel “Road Trip”, there is a subplot about another character trying to use Jason as a cover up for his own evil deed. Was this a nod to the Jason-less “Friday the 13th part V in any way shape or form?

WP: Not intentionally. I just love subplots.

F13F: At the time, how well received were the novels by fans of the series?

WP: Actually most fans didn’t know about the books. From what I’ve heard from bookstore owners Berkley Books literally did nothing to promote the book series to the fans.

It was actually later through book sales and second market the books got noticed.

F13F: The series came to a halt after the release of the novel “Road Trip”. Were you ever asked to write anymore novels or did the company simply decide to stop the series?

WP: had actually been working on the treatments for four more novels when I found out Berkley had cancelled the series.

F13F: Did you have any early ideas after “Road Trip” as to storylines, locations, etc that you wanted to explore in this series that you never got the chance to explore?

WP: I had treatments for four more books after Road Trip. They were titled The Collection, Mad Medicine, The Documentary, and The Scarecrow.

The Collection is about Nathan Christie,(Yes, the brother of Steve Christie) the owner of The Crystal Spring Water Company. Nathan is obsessed with Jason Voorhees and collects any item he can find related to Jason. His newest acquisition is the supposed possessed hockey mask of Jason Voorhees. Unfortunately, Nathan has a son named Dean who hates him and loves to do things to piss him off. So, Dean decides to have a costume party. He also decides the best place to have his party is in his father’s personal display room. It is then that the mask finds it’s new wearer and it is up to Dean to find out who that person is before his party turns into a bloodbath.

Mad Medicine tells the story of Phil Raman, the assistant coroner of Cunningham County. Phil is an unhappy person. He must live in the shadow of the head coroner and Doctor for Crystal Lake, Doctor Robert “Doctor.Bob” Carey. Also the woman he is obsessed with, Doctor Bob’s secretary Guadalupe, thinks he’s a revolting loser. But when a body of a dead security guard with a hockey mask mysterously bonded to his face arrives Phil has a life changing experience. Now Phil will be on call for surgery in the town of Crystal Lake, whether they need it or not.

The Documentary tells the story of a group of college students that come to Crystal Lake to do a documentary on the legend of Jason Voorhees. But when their dorky production assistant, Edgar, finds a mask on the shore of Crystal Lake things take a complete turn around and now the people making the movie are now the subject of Edgar’s movie…a snuff film.

In The Scarecrow it is Harvest Festival time in the town of Crystal Lake. Timmy wants to win the prize for best scarecrow. So, when he finds a hockey mask laying in the woods he decides to make a Jason scarecrow. Unfortunately, when Timmy puts the hockey mask on his creation the scarecrow comes to life. Now Timmy and a psychic named Morgana who has a vision of the scarecrow must stop the scarecrow before it turns the Harvest Festival into a massacre.
Some of the ideas I had for these treatments I’ve actually incorporated into my last novel, The Mask of Jason Voorhees.

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F13F: You are currently writing a web novel that is a follow up to the “Camp Crystal Lake Novels”. What can you tells us about this story and where can fans of your work go to check it out?

WP: The Mask of Jason Voorhees is a crossover between the Friday the 13th film series and the Television Series. It also tells us the story of how Jason was originally resurrected as well as the events leading up to Pamela Voorhees going insane. It actually takes place one day after the events in Road Trip.

You can find the novel at:
http://f13bloodbath.homestead.com/maskintro.html

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F13F: You have also worked closely with a group that is creating a fan film based on your first novel “Mothers Day”. What has that been like and do they plan on possibly making other films from your novel series?

WP: The experience of working on the film adaptation of Mother’s Day is beyond words. Cory Stevens is an incredible filmmaker. It is a rare thing for any author to be perfectly pleased with an adaptation of his work. I’m one of those few. There were times when I first watched that film that I was totally shocked how closely some of the scenes matched what was in my head when I was writing the novel. It was like deja vu.

Originally Cory was planning to do an adaptation of Jason’s Curse, but decided against it because he planned to move to California and wouldn’t have time to do a good job on the film before he would have to leave.

But, I’m currently working with another young filmmaker, Kyle Van Meter, who is planning to do an adaptation of the forth novel, Road Trip. Kyle is hoping to have the film done by October 2008.

F13F: In closing, what would you like to say to fans of your work as well as all of the fans of “all things-Friday the 13th” related?

WP: To the fans of my books I’d like to say thanks for the support. To the all around F13 fans I hope you consider my work part of the continuity of F13, because that’s was my intention to fill in the gap left at the end of JASON GOES TO HELL.

5 Responses to “Friday the 13th novelist William Pattison (aka Eric Morse) speaks with Fridaythe13thfilms”

  1. Tony Says:

    I’d like to go ahead and thanks Mr. Pattison for taking the time to do this interview. I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed these novels. Thanks for doing the interview with me William! I appreciate it.

  2. Josh Says:

    Awesome interview, I enjoy reading these Tony. Keep ‘em coming!

  3. Wiliam Pattison, Aka Eric Morse Says:

    Hey Tony,

    Thanks again for the interview. I really enjoyed doing it. I hope the fans enjoy it….

  4. Dave Says:

    Thank you thank you thank you Mr. Pattison for writing such a great series of novels. I read Carnival and Road Trip when they first came out and only months ago FINALLY found copies of Mother’s Day and Jason’s Curse. They have always been my favorite books growing up and kept my love for Jason alive during the long wait for FvsJ. Please never run out of sugar baby.

  5. David Says:

    I loved your Friday the 13th novels, especially Jason’s Curse. I hope your new novel, “The Mask of Jason Voorhees”, will be done soon.

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