Biographical Sketch of P. D. Cacek
by K. L. Roberts
(Originally appeared in the MileHiCon 32 program book)
What you don't know can hurt you. At least that's what many horror writers seem to sense, somewhere way down in their DNA. P. D. ("Trish") Cacek is one of those writers, a woman who wants to look into all the dark corners, and take her readers along to show them what's there. And her readers like that. A lot. Her humorous tale of vampire lust, Night Prayers, is going into a second printing, and her publisher is hounding her for a sequel. Canyons, which chronicles the misconduct of Denver's leading werewolves, is due out in December, and Tor Books has already been talking about the movie rights. And her latest novel, New Hope, which is still in the works, serves up perhaps her finest writing yet.
Horror firmly rooted in historical fact is fast becoming one of Cacek's trademarks, and she takes her obligation to get the facts straight seriously. For this latest novel she went and lived in New Hope for months while she researched the background, and it shows. Pennsylvania is one of the longest-inhabited states in the US, and New Hope is one of its most-haunted cities, but until now there wasn't a horror writer around to ferret out its unique ambience.
One of the most striking things about Trish, for those who know her, is her uncanny ability to fabricate gripping fiction out of the stuff of everyday life. She's truly a lean, mean, fiction machine-always cultivating an inner garden of imagery, memories, hopes, and-of course-fears.
But what gets planted in that garden and what grows there are two very different things. And that slight, deft, telling twist beyond ordinary reality is another Cacek specialty.
The perennial question, "Where do you get your ideas?" is an especially difficult question to answer in Trish's case. Born at the epicenter of American myth-making, Hollywood, she can still recall writing a story at the age of five in her Big Chief writing tablet-a scary story, of course.
One creative impetus that she clearly remembers was seeing Boris Karloff in Frankenstein. Karloff scared the pants off of her, and according to Cacek she decided then and there, at the ripe old age of four, that she wanted to learn the trick of doing that.
Already addicted to adrenaline, she developed a passion for Poe after finding a collection of his stories in her mother's library. She still admires him. "He's dated a bit," Trish says, "but his situations-walling people up alive, for example-and the ambience he created, these things stay with you."
She went on to earn a degree in creative writing, and by the early '90s was beginning to have her short fiction regularly accepted. She fell in love with Colorado while visiting relatives, and when a shift in her husband's career provided the opportunity some years ago, she moved here.
She continued to hone her talents in the Northern Colorado Writer's Workshop, and in 1996 was awarded the Horror Writer's Association's Bram Stoker award for "Metalica", a short story that had appeared earlier that year in Hot Blood: Fear the Fever.A collection of her '90s-era fiction, Leavings, appeared in 1998, and Night Prayersfollowed shortly thereafter.
What's next? Apart from the sequel to Night Prayers, Trish is keen to move on to a trilogy she's tentatively entitled Little Birds, set in Auschwitz.
When asked what it is that most motivates her as an artist, Cacek replies, "Fiction is what a writer leaves behind. It's what we leave to posterity-our bid for immortality."
She's well on her way.
© 2000 Kenneth Roberts