Q&A with Michael Hebler: Chupacabra Anyone?

Q. In one sentence, who is Michael Hebler?Night of the Chupacabra
A. Michael Hebler is a middle-aged man still trying to figure out what life has planned for him.

Q. Talk about your career path, and why you’re doing what you’re doing now?
A. My career has been diverse. After graduating college, I worked in film development followed by workers’ compensation healthcare, then event management, and finally international publicity for feature films. As inconsistent as that sounds, the one constant has been writing. I began in college and have never stopped.

Q. The Night After Christmas is a far cry from your chupacabra series. What prompted you to start writing in the horror genre?
A. I’m a fan of many things, and two of those things are horror and Christmas. The Night After Christmas was written for a children’s Christmas variety show over 20 years ago. It wasn’t until the walls of publishing broke down and paved the way to independent publishing that I decided to turn The Night After Christmas into a picture book for believers of any age. Until then, I had only written screenplays, but I had so much fun developing the picture book, I thought I’d try my hand at a novel. I adapted the screenplay that was nearest and dearest to my heart, el Chupacabra, which also happened to be the screenplay that came closest to becoming a feature film.

Q. I confess I’ve only read one of the chupacabra books and that was in preparation for a radio interview I did with you. Horror is not my cup of tea. After reading it I had nightmares. Why does this genre have such a big following?
A. Yes, I remember our radio interview. It was great to hear a non-horror fan’s perspective of the book. As for horror having a following, if I had to take a stab at a reason (pun intended), I’d say it’s the adrenaline rush of being frightened with no real threat of harm. You’re safe reading a horror book in bed or a chair; you’re safe watching a horror movie in a theatre or your living room.

Q. So what is a chupacabra?
A. If you ever find out please let me know, I’m still trying to figure this one out. In my research years and years ago, I discovered more theories than I could count on two hands. Some say it’s a coyote with radiation poisoning while others say it’s a pet aliens left behind during a visit.  Some say it originated in New Mexico; others say Puerto Rico. The one factor they all agreed upon was that it prefers to feed on the blood of animals and children though it will attack whatever threatened it. They also agreed that it is called a chupacabra, which is a Latin word that translates to goat-sucker.

Q. I live in New Mexico where every year about this time we see countless reports of sightings of the beast or skeletal remains of the beast. Does that happen in your neck of the woods and how does this affect your creative itch?
A. Not usually. During the progression of the series, I’ve lived in Southern California and now Southwest Florida. Both places, half the people to whom I mention the chupacabra have no idea what I’m talking about.

Q. Without giving anything away, talk about the progression of the series.
A. Well, the series is currently planned for six books, with the fourth volume, Dawn of the Chupacabra, just released this past October 13. This latest volume is the last to take place in America’s Old West. Return of the Chupacabra will pick up in the 1990s, around the time news of the creature began to spread. Despite the century long gap, there is a link that connects all the volumes together.

Q. Aside from chupacabra, what is the continuing theme in the series?
A. I have always thought of this series as a family drama first, and then horror.

Q. How much of what you write is drawn from the scary side of real life?
A. Most of it. Although the chupacabra is my central “villain,” it is never the only villain. Every story has at least one human that is just as monstrous, or more so. In fact, the origin I chose for the creature’s existence in my books is a result of mankind’s ability to make very poor decisions, as we have shown we can do by taking a look at our history.

Q. My goodness, friend, how do you sleep at night after writing this stuff? And by the way, I do admire your story construction and relentless characters, so this is a question, not a criticism.
A. No problems sleeping at all. My job is to entertain, and if it entertains me than I know it will do the same for at least one other person in the world, and that is what I consider success.

From Michael’s website: Prior to becoming an award-winning author of his dark fiction Chupacabra Series, Michael worked as a full-time international film publicist on multiple titles for Walt Disney, Pixar, Lionsgate, Lakeshore Entertainment, Warner Bros., Summit Entertainment, as well as the 2013 Academy Award® Best Foreign Language film, “La grande bellezza” (The Great Beauty). To date, his publications include the first four (of six) books in his Chupacabra Series:  Night of the Chupacabra, Curse of the Chupacabra, Legend of the Chupacabra, and Dawn of the Chupcabra as well as his first publication, The Night After Christmas, a holiday picture book for believers of any age.

For more information about Michael Hebler go to http://www.michaelhebler.com