Wicker Wondering

Why The Wicker Man?  It’s a fair question.  My book is now starting to appear on Amazon and other venues (it’s on Goodreads!), so it’s time to try to get the word out.  The BBC ran a recent story, “Why The Wicker Man has divided opinion for 50 years,” and that offers a springboard into the “why” question.  I’m not Scottish, but my wife and I lived in Scotland for a little over three years.  That’s one reason.  While there I did some research into Scottish folklore—historians of religion are curious people—and traveled widely, and that’s another.  As one of those writers who’s never been able to break out of the academic market, the third and most direct reason is that I’d begun a book on holiday horror.  A friend pointed the series Devil’s Advocates out to me.  Back then the series books were priced in the twenty-dollar range, but the pandemic put an end to that!

I’ve always thought The Wicker Man derived its fear from the strangeness of the holiday.  I’ve also often wondered why Anthony Shaffer and Robin Hardy didn’t make more use of “Beltane” in the dialogue.  Maybe the unfamiliar was too unfamiliar?  I suggest a different reason in my book, but I won’t reveal that here.  Writing a book on The Wicker Man would allow me the opportunity to share my thoughts about holiday horror without trying to convince an agent that people actually do like to read about horror as well as reading horror itself.  Come on, agents!  It’s called pop culture because it’s popular!

I pitched the idea and the series editor liked it.  So did the reviewers.  They were tired of hearing/reading about The Wicker Man as folk horror, as if there was nothing more to the movie.  Like most films that grow an afterlife, this one is complex and can be approached from many angles.  In fact, there’s another book, one by John Walsh, coming out on the movie just weeks after mine.  I wasn’t the only one who knew the fiftieth anniversary was on the horizon like a Beltane sunset on Summerisle.  For those who prefer a more television-like explanation, I’ve posted a video on The Wicker Man on my YouTube channel.  This blog, I realize, doesn’t get enough hits to drive traffic that way, but it’s nevertheless part of the package.  Why The Wicker Man?  The answers likely lie in several posts on this blog, a few years in Scotland, and a love of strange movies.

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