Everybody loves a good story. Whether it’s an epic fantasy of heroes on a quest to save the world, a cosy and sweet romance, or a horror story about what lurks in the darkness, humans have been passing fictional accounts to each other since language’s inception. One genre of stories that has received an update for the digital age is horror, in the form of Creepypasta.
If you are unfamiliar with the term, Creepypasta is a term to describe ‘Campfire stories for the digital age’. Additionally, there is a community of people on YouTube who create content by narrating said stories. One such narrator, the subject of this interview, goes under the moniker Mr CreepyPasta. His channel is currently sitting at 1.3 million subscribers, and he has a few books and comics under his belt as well.
You first joined YouTube on January 4th 2011. What first gave you the idea to create this kind of content? In all honesty it was never meant to be what it is. That’s the story for many YouTubers I’ve heard, but my channel actually started because of a relationship I was in. We were both big fans of horror and we used to read Creepypasta stories together. Well at the time, Creepypasta.com was being sold and the forums had a lot of fear that the site would be gutted and changed. Thankfully, it never was, but that gave me the idea that I could catalogue these stories on a YouTube channel and I could do it with my girlfriend at the time. Well, as it went, I recorded a few myself on really bad equipment with no idea how to audio edit and she hated it and said I was bad at it and I shouldn’t really be doing it. Inevitably she left me. However, when I went to the comments, people seemed to like what I was doing, and they wanted me to keep going. So, I figured I’d do this for the people watching instead of trying to make it into a relationship.
In one of your videos, you say that Friday the 13th is your favourite horror movie franchise. What was about that this franchise that resonated more with you compared to other horror films you’ve seen? Friday the 13th was the first horror film that I really liked, I think. In high school, I was directing student films with my media lit class and the group decided that what they wanted to make were horror films. Up to that point I had kind of avoided horror. My mom was really scared of them and never wanted to watch or have me watch any. But Friday the 13th was on AMC and it was around October, so I sat and watched it. It was Part 6, which is still my favourite movie from the franchise to this day and I absolutely loved the way slashers work, and it taught me the textbook way slashers worked.
In the same video, you describe your love of horror developing back when you were studying games design, when you frequented a second-hand movie shop by your apartment. What are other horror films that you enjoyed/ hated and why? Yeah, so after high school, I wanted to consume as many horror movies as I could. I would go to this second-hand video store whenever I would go grocery shopping. I know I bought all of the Friday the 13th movies there. Halloween, Child’s Play and I finally saw the grudge and the ring. It was a bit of a while ago, but I know I didn’t really care for the grudge or some of those American adapted Japanese films. I did see a few of the Japanese original horror films and those were really spooky, but the adaptations I wasn’t too big on. Then again, by that point I’d been watching so much so fast, I think I might have started to desensitize myself.
As someone who used to study video games design, what are some of your favourite games? I’m not sure if you’re going to like this answer: it’s not really related to horror. I really dig games where I get to play an open-ended role. Fallout and Skyrim are pretty high up there for me, same with Final Fantasy 14. But my all-time favourite game was Nights into Dreams. I think that was the first game I played where it made me realize things can be different in a game than what I’m used to and broke its own level structure to give me the feeling that I could fly. The game is really old, but if you haven’t played it, I suggest giving it a try, it’s really weird.
While we are on the topic of horror, what do you think are some of the best horror games and why? Silent Hill is still, in my opinion, the best series of horror games I’ve played because it keeps you in a constant state of imbalance. Yeah, there’s a lot of games that can play with tension and stress that work well. Five nights are Freddy’s played with stress pretty well, but Silent hill keeps you unsure of what to even do half the time, while you’re in the middle of doing it. You don’t have many weapons that give you distance and the few times you get them you never want to use them. It really is a great game series. It’s a shame it died.
The easiest way to describe Creepypastas are like ‘Campfire stories for the digital age’. Why do you think horror being narrated is more popular on the internet compared to other genres? I don’t think it is. Horror is extremely niche. I feel that narrating became popular because there’s just not a lot out there to take in. Mind you, there are an endless amount of stories, but when you do one thing long enough, you need to find something new. Narrating is just another way to do something you love.
Out of all the Creepypasta videos you’ve created, which one is the video you are most proud of? And on the other side of the coin, are there any videos you felt could have been done better? Oh man. So, the first half of this is extremely difficult to answer. I think I’m very proud of Borrasca and Borrasca V. That series was one of the best voice work I think I’ve done, as well as timing and the sound effects were done extremely well. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite work, but I’m very proud of it. The very first story I ever posted is by far the worst: I hated the audio, I didn’t know how to clear air, I didn’t have a good mic. It was really, really bad and I’m surprised Kris Straub is cool enough to let me keep it up.
You currently have two books released, both Creepypasta collections. Why did you to decide to divert from your usual method of uploading videos and release these books? It wasn’t really about diverting. Simon and Schuster came to me and wanted me to write a book about myself or about acting, horror etc. They were good with letting me take my time with it and write something, but I didn’t want to. I felt talking about myself isn’t that interesting and I don’t have a lot to offer. What I did have were a lot of talented people I’ve worked with over the years who deserve to be published by someone large like S&S. So, I offered them another idea that we could do a horror anthology that featured authors I’ve worked with and know to be extremely talented. They went for the idea and we did volume 1 of the Creepypasta collection. With Volume 2, I tried to focus on YouTubers I’ve worked with and I know can also write. Once again, on release, the book did really well.
Who do you think are some of the best horror writers? Oh god. I can’t answer this on something they’ll see because I know I’m going to leave someone out. Vincent V Cava, Matt Dymerski, CKWalker, Kris Straub, Michael Whitehouse, Banning K., just to name off a few. I have so many I know have done incredible works that it’s impossible for me to just pull them off the top of my head. But these are some of the heavy hitters with online horror.
Are there any horror writers you know who you feel deserve more attention? All of them, honestly. These guys have novels they’re working on and books out on Amazon and it’s hard for them to get full distribution, but they have ideas and stories that are stronger than many of the books on shelves. If I could, I’d love to just put all these guys onto book shelves around the world because they need a chance at something like that, and the readers would love to see their work.
Who do you think are some of the best horror/creepypasta narrators? MrBlackPasta is new but doing amazing things. CreepsMcPasta is also a really great guy and his audiobook style is amazing. On my channel, I work with a lot of great narrators like Giggles, AutumnIvy and WellHeyProductions. All of them could carry a story on their own wonderfully.
What do you think is the difference between a great horror story and a personal favourite? Characters and creativity. So many stories can use a protagonist that is a blank slate and let you project onto them, so you feel like they are you. However, I think a great story is one that has an interesting character you can understand and feel for. And if they have a good and creative story that I haven’t thought of or haven’t seen before, then that’s just gravy.
Do you think horror works better in medium like films and televisions, or as written word, and why? I personally like film. If I had the budget to make horror shorts, I’d be working on those for every story I had. I like horror as a film medium and especially a short form film medium because I feel that it gives enough of a taste to be scary without going so far as to ruin it by explaining everything. If you’ve seen Crypt TV, I think they got the formula pretty spot on.
Have you got any advice for people who are aspiring horror writers/ aspiring to create these kinds of narrating horror channels? If you want to write, write every day. If you want to narrate or act, practice that every day. It’s like any other art: To get better, you have to also practice it and you’ll become better at it and if you ever get stuck or don’t know how, don’t be afraid to get weird. Do things, write about things, read things that aren’t horror and you’re not used to, and it’ll help to open your eyes to new possibilities.