May 6, 2008

"Horror Roundtable" Blogger Steven Wintle Discusses His Site's Fate

I usually don't include my Site of the Week interviews here, but after speaking to The Horror Blog's Steven Wintle, I was moved to. The weekly "Horror Roundtable" posts-- in which a savvy panel of bloggers discuss a new theme every week-- has kept me hooked for a long time, and his revelation that a hiatus is approaching caught me off guard. For now at least, there are 97 weeks worth of entries (and counting) to be savored, including Steven's all-time favorites.

TB: How do you find all these people, or do they find you? What separates the Roundtablers from the commenters?

SW: I sent out invitations to the first batch of participants just to get the ball rolling. This group was comprised of practically every horror blogger I could think of. After that initial drive I would occasionally extend an open invite on the blog. So long as someone has an interest in horror and a horror-related site to promote, I'm happy to include them.

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TB: What are some examples of your favorite Horror Roundtable discussions of all time?

SW: I'm a big softie, so overall I think the answers related to real-world experiences are among my favourites. These include first horror movie memories and the people responsible for our obsessions, among others.

I also really enjoy topics that allow the participants to flaunt their knowledge. I've discovered dozens of great horror movies through their recommendations in topics such as horrific non-horror films, the obscure, and the really obscure.

And I also like the goofy ones, especially playing Blackwell, bad Halloween candy, and the pros and cons of setting zombies on fire. It was hard narrowing it down to just a few. I just skimmed through all 97 posted so far, and I have to say, even when the topic is crap the responses are always top-notch.

TB: Your site started out as a great horror blog in its own right back in the day, but the Roundtable's vox populi aspect has almost completely taken over. How and why did that transformation occur?

SW: My reasons for cutting back are the usual tedious nonsense. The tipping point, however, occurred at the world premiere of Diary of the Dead. Night of the Living Dead is my favorite horror movie of all time, and attending the first public screening of one of George Romero's zombie films was set to be one of the highlights of my life as a horror fan. After the screening most of the audience started taking pictures and recordings of the Q&A, including me. Here I was, just minutes after watching a movie about the perils of living your life through a lens, and I was juggling a tape recorder and camera instead of enjoying the event to its fullest. That's when I decided to cut back.

The Horror Roundtable is still going strong largely because I promised a few people that I would take it to 100 installments. Otherwise I would have shut the entire site down months ago. That said, I should probably let everyone know that The Horror Blog will be going on hiatus for a few months, and when it returns it will be under new management. I'm unsure at this point what the fate of the Horror Roundtable will be.

TB: Most horror blogs are news or reviews first, editorial second. The Roundtable is unusual in that it's almost entirely based on opinions, yet is still a well-rounded read on the genre, very unlike other discussion forums. Do you think its popularity signals an unfulfilled need in the online horror community ?

SW: The creation of the Roundtable was partly an extension of what I wanted to achieve with the blog for myself; a forum that allows the participants to explore regions of the genre that they might otherwise not consider on their own using a constantly shifting focus. If it is popular-- and I might quibble with that description-- I'd guess that it's because the participants are dedicated explorers of the genre with interesting and provocative thoughts on the topics. It's like a dinner party, but everyone invited is a cannibal.

The reason I started the Roundtable in the first place was to allow readers the opportunity to check out a wide sampling of some of the best horror writing on the internet and continue on to those author's respective sites. So if you visit the Roundtable and see anything you like, please click on through. You won't regret it.

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