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Interview: Bruce McAllister on “Killer”

Can you give us some background on this story?

Back in the 60’s, I had a vision (don’t ask—it was the 60’s).  Of great wings in the night and a great egg and demons and angels cascading into New York’s Central Park through a “door” into heaven and hell.  It was horrible and yet beautiful, too—a kind of Armageddon that wasn’t going to end.  The demons and angels were here to stay.  New York was going to be transformed, and neither angels nor demons were what they appeared.  “Killer” tries to capture what NYC has become years later, how angels are hunted because human beings believe them to be demons, and how demons have posed as saints.

The story took many fits-and-starts forms, as most of my stories do (I’m a very slow, organic writer—I wish had eight typewriters going all at once in Asimov fashion, photographic memory, divine-comedy trust, cognition trumping everything, but I’m more intuitive and mystical and that seems to add up, despite the romantic labels, to slowness….), and for years the music I played while I produced them was Rodrigo’s “Fantasia para un gentilhombre…,” that sad yet beautiful ode to his dead son in the gardens of Aranjuez, Spain.  The first incarnation of that vision appeared in OMNI back in the day as “Kingdom Come” (you can find it online at the new OMNIMag), and people responded well to it.  But F&SF’s “Killer,” short as it is, has allowed me to look into NYC’s future after the great door opens, and that’s been wonderful.  A coming home.  Wings appear in it too, and how could they not?


Tell us about the film that you’re making based on “Killer” and its predecessor that was published in OMNI in 1987.

Over the years a number of filmmakers have optioned that first vision, but never produced a film from it.  My son and I just finished a short film based on another story of mine, and we want to do another short.  For a number of reasons we want to do one, this one longer, based on F&SF’s “Killer” and that earlier story.  We should be able to do it in twelve minutes, capture that world with green screen and the kind of visual fx my son Ben is so good at it, and also tell a human story that both William Faulkner and Par Lagerkvist might forgive given its celebration of the human spirit.  But after a year spent on this first film’s 6 minutes—with a post-production more limbo than hell—we need to breathe and restore before we jump into another project.


Anything else you’d like to add?  Any other projects you’re working on?

Short stories. At the moment, incredibly short ones—which can frustrate some readers—but I’m a fan of “proof of concept” short films and of stories that resemble them in their own way.  And my son and I are pursing our short (as we hope to do with the “Killer”/Kingdom Come”-based film) as a series more than a feature.  Wish us luck!


“Killer” appears in the July/August 2016 issue of F&SF.

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