Grady Hendrix is the author of Horrorstör and My Best Friend's Exorcism, but more impotantly for our purposes he's the author of Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction. While that last one doesn't contain a whole lot of Pike material, it should be no shock that Hendrix digs him some Pike, and if you haven't read his essays on Pike, or heard him speak about YA horror, he's worth a look.

What is a Christopher Pike book? Basically they're books where kids wear clashing colors eat a lot of food, have a lot of sex, get drunk, murder each other, and never, ever stop playing charades.

[...]The crazy stalker is a common trope in teen books yet Pike manages to make his stalkers crazier and more intense than most, probably because his normal characters are so batshit in the first place that a stalker has to go way over the top to even get noticed (Source)

That's from Part 1 of a 3-series set of essays. He also makes this point:

In Fall Into Darkness (1990) all the teenaged characters talk like hardbitten noir femme fatales and act crazier than a sack full of rattlesnakes while plotting to kill, frame, or screw each other.

It's an observation Cooper S. Beckett makes a lot in the PikeCast, too: Pike loves getting his pulp noir on. He writes sometimes like a hardboiled crime novelist, in the vein of Cain or Chandler, but I think he has even more in common with writers of that era: in the 90s, Pike was churning out a book every couple of months, just like the pulp crime novelists of yore, and of course those lurid Archway cover illustrations are pulpy as can be. Pike as modern-day pulp author: it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately, and about its influence on me.

Anyway, back to Grady.

To paraphrase Mink Stole in Pink Flamingos, “There are two kinds of people in this world, Christopher Pike people and assholes.” Taken in large quantities, Christopher Pike books will shake your sanity and destroy your worldview, only to rebuild it into something both awesome and terrible. You will see civilization as merely a stage where short-tempered teens strut and fret and play charades while occasionally faking their suicides. Welcome to the Pikeverse. (Source)

That's from Part Deux.

If you thought teenage serial killers, football-playing space vampires, and reincarnated Greek goddesses poisoning each other with powdered glass while on vacation sounded wild, wait until you try Pike’s reincarnated Nazi serial killers, abortion ghosts, angels from beyond space and time who drive Ferraris, and herpes. (Source)

That's a little snippet from Part 3 of Grady's tour through the highlights of Pike's ouevre.

Speaking to Cinepunx while promoting Paperbacks From Hell, he was asked:

Did you read any of those books when they first came out, or is this new territory for you?

I was in university when those books started coming out; ’85, ’86. The really early ones like Chain Letter and Slumber Party and Weekend, even then I was like 14 or 15. They just weren’t on my radar. I was reading Stephen King and Clive Barker and stuff like that. I guess King, mostly. I just sort of missed the Christopher Pike boat, so this is the first time I’ve ever read his stuff.

Reading them as an actual adult, without the nostalgic lens to tint things, what’s been your reaction to YA horror as a genre?

It’s interesting, because I almost don’t consider Christopher Pike YA. I think YA, in the way that we think about it, sort of started in ’97 with Harry Potter & the Sorceror’s Stone. After that, there was a huge explosion, but before then, it was called YA, but it was really more of “teen” fiction. There was less of it. I think there were 5,000 or 6,000 titles publishes every year, and post-Harry Potter, there’s like, 30,000 or more.

It was so much more of a grab bag [then], and it had so many more weird corners, and so, Christopher Pike — I’m really loving his stuff. His characters are interesting. They’re all written as adults, basically. All his teenagers are adults. They’re all really hard-boiled. They’re like 16 year-olds being, “Oh, that was my past, I don’t talk about what happened,” as if they’re 45 year-old alcoholics in a film noir.

Then, all the girls are all like, femme fatales, right out of The Maltese Falcon or something, and everyone is fucking and they’re all getting drunk all the time and doing cocaine and tying each other up. The girls are horny all the time. The guys are horny all the time. They play charades a lot, which is a little weird. There seems to be a real emphasis on charades.

But, the thing I love about them is that adults just don’t exist. The few that do show up just pop up randomly, here and there, and don’t really have too much to do with the story. In these books, these teenagers are killers or they’re psychopaths or they’re stalkers or they’re space vampires or cyborgs from the future made of monkey sperm or ancient Greek goddesses that have been reincarnated to kill their enemies in an eternal cycle of vengeance. They’re anything.

The teenagers are everything and everyone. The adults are irrelevant, and usually quite sad. So, I think that they’re really great. (Source)

If podcasts are more your thing, Hendrix stopped by Teen Ceeps for a "summit on YA fiction" a couple years back. Not strictly Pike, but it ain't bad. You can listen here. (I tried embedding it, but it doesn't want to let me.)

Welcome is an unofficial Christopher Pike fan page.

We aim to keep you updated on the latest goings-on in the Pike-verse!



Official Pike