Horror flicks take viewers through a whirlwind of stomach-knotting excursions. The suspense and scare thread an internal angst that forbids release until we reach that final moment and its lone survivor — the final girl. For most, that’s where the story ends but for author Grady Hendrix, that’s where the story begins.
Hendrix gained a budding fanbase with his novel “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires,” a New York Times Bestseller about a women’s book club that must battle with a mysterious newcomer to their small town. This go-round, the horror fanatic crafted “The Final Girl Support Group” (Berkley Hardcover), a nostalgic homage to slasher films of the 1980s and ‘90s.
Lynnette Tarkington is at the center of the story and for more than a decade, she’s only left her house to meet with six other final girls and their therapist for group support. The plot thickens when one woman misses a meeting and it’s suspected that someone who knows about the group is determined to flip their worlds upside down … again.
“The big thing for me was, Lynnette, the main character. [She] is exactly who I’d be if I were in a slasher [film] in real life. If I were a final girl, I would never leave my house again. I would weaponize my life,” Hendrix says. “It was so much fun to be in Lynnette’s head because it’s fun to write a character who is deeply committed to a wrong point-of-view, and her point-of-view is that everyone is out to get her.”
Hendrix’s fascination with final girls was piqued while reading the April 1981 issue of the horror and cult film magazine Fangoria. The issue detailed the beginning of “Friday the 13th Part 2,” where Adrienne King’s character Alice Hardy — the first final girl from the first “Friday the 13th” — was murdered by Jason while enjoying an evening at home.
“It just always struck me how cruel that was and I always wanted to rewrite that [and] I wanted to give that woman I read about in the magazine a happier ending,” Hendrix says. “There’s something comforting to me when someone has the worst night of their life and they get through, and not just because they’re strong or have a gun, but simply because they don’t quit, they just keep going. That’s all you need sometimes.”
Listen to an excerpt from “The Final Girl Support Group,” read by Adrienne King, aka the first final girl from “Friday the 13th Part 1.”
Audio excerpt courtesy Penguin Random House Audio from “The Final Girl Support Group” by Grady Hendrix, read by Adrienne King.