Caren is a classy, street-smart, tough and beautiful women. I always tell her she looks like one of those cosmetic models on TV. She denies it, but she is wrong. She lives where I call downstairs, but is actually probably a couple of hundred miles from me. We share the same weather (ugh) time zone, love of animals and kids, and she is a survivor having gone through LIFE.
LIFE with all caps is reserved for people that have gone through the apocalypse and come out of the other side, but that is another story.
Caren is a person I deeply respect. She has volunteered her own time for various projects, groups and 'writerly' things and is a force to be reckoned with. Do not mess with her.......
When did you start writing horror?
I always dabbled with horror, from the time I could put a pencil to paper and create words. I didn’t start publishing horror until 2010, though. I’d just completed a hand-written horror novel (as yet unpublished. Hell, as yet not even typed up!) and I decided I needed to get some short story credits under my belt before I tried to sell it. I wasn’t convinced that I was a short story writer, the short form is such a different animal, but I got an idea and I wrote it. When it was done, I liked it okay, so I googled for open submissions and sent it to the first one I found, which just so happened to be Dark Moon Books first call. That story, Jack and Jill, was accepted for the first ever issue of Dark Moon Digest. I was very lucky.
Have you written in any other genre?
I haven’t written in any other genre as of yet, but I have considered it. Paranormal Romance is such a huge money maker, but if I do try my hand at it, I will do so under another name. It would be purely something to finance my true love, writing horror.
What makes you uncomfortable?
Ha! What doesn’t make me uncomfortable? My friends often laugh that I write the stuff I do, yet am afraid of so many things. But I think a lot of us are like that. We can write about fear so well, because it is our intimate companion. The dark, spiders, claustrophobia, airplanes, the loss of a child, those are my biggest boogeymen, in no particular order.
Does your family read your work?
Some do. My Brother in Law has been very supportive of my work, and my Mother is one of my beta readers. Sometimes when I feel embarrassed about particularly graphic scenes, I remind myself that my Mom has read it, and if it was okay by her, everyone else is secondary.
Does your writing make you uneasy?
Sometimes. I’ve noticed that the scenes that are most uncomfortable for me to write are the ones that go the fastest. I just sit down and let it out as quickly as I can. Interestingly enough, my editor has told me those are the scenes that need the least editing. She thinks that I just open myself up and let it go, not second guessing and adding problems that don’t belong there. It amuses me that the scenes that make me shudder or cry, come out as the best in terms of structure and grammar.
Who would you say you write like?
That’s a tough one. I’m not sure. I write like myself. Sometimes I will write a story and think it reminds me a bit of one of my favorite influences, but mostly, I just write like myself.
Who are your favourite authors?
There are so many of them! Robert McCammon is my all-time favorite. There is nothing he has written that I didn’t love. Of course, I love Stephen King as well, and for Fantasy, no one beats George RR Martin. I love Jonathan Maberry’s Pine Deep books, Anne Rice, Dan Simmons, Brian Lumley and many more. My most recent love is Nick Cutter. His novel, The Deep, scared the living shit out of me.
Who influences you as a writer?
I would say everyone whose work I have ever read. Whether for better or worse, I learn what I like, what I want to do, and what I definitely want to avoid by reading the work of others. My family and friends also influence me, because they often, unwittingly, provide fodder for my imagination, mostly through mundane conversations and actions.
Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?
The first horror I ever read was a complete collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s works, but the first modern horror I read was Pet Semetary by Stephen King.
How old were you?
I was twelve. My reading comprehension was very high and I was interested in his writing. My very cool uncle read his books, and my mother asked him if he thought I could handle them. He said I could and I got a few of his books for Christmas that year. Had my mom actually read his work, I seriously doubt she’d have let me read them at that age, but it’s too late now!
Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?
That is an interesting question. I was on a panel at WHC in New Orleans a couple of years ago that dealt with Extreme Horror. Though it quickly became a discussion that revolved around torture porn, with half of the panelists demonizing it and the rest of us championing it, this question was raised by the audience. My answer, and the answer of the majority of the panelists was easy, graphic sexuality involving children. I would also like to add that, though I may kill a child in my writing, I never do so in great detail. It hurts too much to do.
What was the best advice you were given as a writer?
I’ve been given a ton of great advice, but the most valuable stuff came from Stephen King’s On Writing. That book is packed full of practical advice that you simply won’t get from style manuals (though, those should be read as well, I recommend Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King).
If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?
Not a damned thing! Maybe I wouldn’t have wasted my twenties by not writing, but my life was a mess and I’m not sure I could’ve written then anyway. Honestly, I’ve been very fortunate in my career and though I’m not supporting myself with my writing, my journey has been an easy one. I have far more acceptances than rejections, was able to join the Horror Writer’s Association at an Affiliate level right away and have been very happy with what I’ve done. After only a year and a half in the organization, I was appointed the Head Verifier for the Bram Stoker Awards®, a job which is time consuming, but also exciting and rewarding. I’ve met many wonderful people and found some very real friendships. I love the horror community!
How many books do you read a year?
Hundreds. Literally. Honestly, I’ve never tried to count. The average novel takes me two to three days to read, door stop novels take about a week. I am never without reading material and I usually have multiple books going at one time.
Do you write every day?
I don’t. I only write when the need surfaces. I’m very erratic with my writing, which definitely keeps me at a hobby level. I won’t write for months at a time, then will complete the first draft of a novel in three weeks. That’s something I seriously need to work on.
Thank you so much for having me here, Malina! I really enjoyed answering your questions. Those interested in Women In Horror Month should be on the lookout for Grimm Mistresses, a collection of dark fairy tale novellas being released this month by Angelic Knight and Ragnorak Publishing. I share the pages with some very lovely ladies, including Stacey Turner, Mercedes M Yardley, and Allison M Dickson.
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