[This interview was recorded with a friend of Lars', John Wyza, via Skype.]
[Opening smalltalk cut for brevity's sake.]
Lars: So, some, uh, preliminary briefing: I'm working on a folklore class, and I'm doing a project on creepypasta and horror fandom on the Internet. And since I need to do an, uh, interview, I thought I might bug you. Is it okay if I quote you for the purposes of my project and so on? It's, it's a formality, but it needs to be asked.
John: Of course it is! You can tidy up what I say, as well. [Laughs]
Lars: Indeed, indeed. Awesome. Sorry, the whole get interview consent! thing has been reiterated several times. Okay. So, uh, creepypasta. How would you characterize your, your relationship with this genre of fiction? Would you really consider yourself a creepypasta "fan?" Or for that matter a horror fan in general? Or just, like, an interested observer?
John: I'd, uh, say that I'm generally a fan of horror and the genre, uh, in general, especially in regards to short stories - for example, the works of H.P. Lovecraft – so I find that creepypasta is a natural progression of that particular... form of writing that I'm, that I'm drawn to.
Lars: Ah, excellent! Okay. So, uh, yeah, would you say there's such a thing as a creepypasta fandom as such, or is it more of like a subset of horror fans and /b/tards, redditors and those kinds of..?
John: Um... That I find to be harder to fully pick apart, but I would, um, say that there is a core fandom, largely made up of the authors and more avid readers, but again, because of its genre I would say it's likely... uh... a fair assumption that these people are also avid horror fans, in general.
Lars: Yeah, one of the, uh, few constructive responses I got from the kindly folks of 4chan indicated the guy was also a big X-Files fan. Cool stuff.
John: It's probably a good mix of being a subset of horror fans, and just general redditors who pass though, or other groups of, you know, of internet users.
Lars: Yeah! Yeah. So, let's see... So, I've noticed a definite trend for this stuff to originate in places like /x/ and reddit's r/creepypasta boards, and then to... but, uh, another rare constructive thing someone said on 4chan was that he sometimes shared stories with friends in a more, like, traditional way - ghost stories around a campfire, that kind of thing. Would you, uh, say you've, uh, noticed any tendency on how this kind of thing propagates? Like, adapting published short stories to creepypasta form, ghost stories influencing creepypasta, anything like that?
John: Yeah, ghost stories and urban myths definitely play a massive role in it, whether by influencing the storylines being written, or being adapted into the stories. It's also like a self feeding system, in that one set of stories may inspire a spin off, or, or something similar... in that regard.
Lars: Cool stuff. This is really helpful. Okay. So on a personal level, is there anything that particularly really... you think really "works" for you when it comes to creepypasta? You're a Lovecraft fan, do you like those kinds of themes or such?
John: I have to say, I do...
Lars: ...when they appear in creepypasta?
John: Yeah, I strongly prefer the stories written that are less about shock and gore, and instead - focus instead on subtly horrifying things, like insanity. I vaguely, uh, remember this one story about a character who's no longer sure what's real and what's not, and, and in the end murders his wife - this isn't the main focus, only the conclusion. He's slowly developing hallucinations due to chemical poisoning from the place he worked. The story was like – it reminds me strongly of "The Rats in the Walls" [a short story by HP Lovecraft].
Lars: Yeah, psychological horror seems to be the basis for a lot of this stuff, and the folks at 4chan seem to agree.
John: Yeah, there's this tragedy built into the loss of your sanity and connection to the real world, and it's far more chilling than a story about, say, like a crazy murderer on a rampage, a la Jason Vorhees.
Lars: Yeah. Oh, okay, a few more things. I've noticed some popularity for "trollpasta" or "crappypasta." You know, like A SKELETON POPPED OUT and that kind of thing. Do you like this kind of stuff? Do you think it works as parody? Or do you - If you think it's funny, is it just because it's stupid, or is it somehow, like, really getting at a deeper point in the way it plays, uh, with genre conventions and so on?
John: Parody-wise, I'm actually a big fan of what are just the "soviet" creepypastas, which are the actual stories being, uh, translated in a stereotypical Russian way, usually with the majority of the story remaining intact with some slight twists. I enjoy these, you know, because of their humor, but don't see them as getting at anything deeper, really.
Lars: [Laughs] I didn't even know that existed. Any chance you could, um, send me a link to one?
John: I could indeed. Yeah, I'll find one, give me a moment.
Lars: Sure thing.
[John sends a link.]
John: That's... That's a very good, very long list of them, and they aren't long.
Lars: Awesome. Skype, huh, won't open the link for some damn reason but - but I'll take a look at it later. Thanks. Huh. Well, that's like all the questions my group had put together. Anything you want to add?
Lars: No's a perfectly valid answer. [Laughs]
John: I can't think of anything, um, major, about creepypasta specifically... so, not really.
Lars: Yeah, that's kind of what I figured. I was, uh, looking for some kind of elegant way to wrap this up. Yeah. No worries. Alright, well, this has been tremendously helpful. I'd say this will turn out pretty well.
John: Glad to hear that! Maybe you could give, give a short example of soviet creepy pasta placed against its normal counterpart? [Puts on a fake Russian accent] Like, “Parents use a caretaker to protect weak children. Caretaker calls parents later, asking, uh, for permission to cover frightening statue of clown. Parents say “Foolish caretaker, we have no statue.” The children and caretaker are found dead, and the, and parents rejoice. Frightened children and weak caretaker are not true Soviets.” You could, like, place those against the normal version, for instance?
Lars: [Laughs] Yeah. Yeah, that could be really useful. Since what I'm working on is "genre conventions" and the like, parody is a big... a big section. Sweet deal. [Long pause] All right sir, I'd hate to, um, keep you from your movie watching.
John: Oh no, that's quite all right, I didn't start it.
Lars: Good to hear.
[Some further smalltalk follows.]