The Dogs of Depression: A Guide for Happy People

The Dogs of Depression: A Guide for Happy People

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Women in Horror: LORI R. LOPEZ

The Ambassador of Alliteration, The Queen of Quips, and the Princess of Prose, Lori has a crazy, unique style I adore. She is whacky, brilliant, imaginative, fun and has the most unique style of writing horror I have come across.

1. When did you start writing horror?

I have no doubt I was writing it from a very early age.  I loved it in every form, every medium, since I was quite young.  I do recall winning an award for a werewolf play in Seventh Grade.  It was called TERROR IN THE WOODS.  At fifteen I began a horror novel that was never finished.  I did write another tale a year or so later about the end of the world and finished that.  It didn’t end well for any of the characters.  I had written a number of stories and plays prior to that point, along with poetry, in various genres.  None of my early writing survived, but I did memorize the first line of that first novel attempt:  “It was the total dark of the universe.”  Its setting was very grim, very dark, a reflection of a tainted childhood.  My parents and I moved to Florida for my last two years of High School, and an English teacher was so impressed with my level of skills that he let me sit in the corner and just write all year.  I don’t know what I was struggling to write then, but I’m certain it was horror-themed.  I didn’t even have to show him what I wrote.  He just wanted me to have that freedom.  I will never forget it.  Other teachers in Wisconsin had encouraged my writing, including one who wasn’t my teacher at the time yet would read my stories, and a librarian.  The Florida English teacher, Mister Brown, also advised me to read Maya Angelou’s book I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS, which amazed me as well.  It blew my mind and touched my heart almost as much as Mary Shelley’s masterpiece did in Fifth Grade.

2. Have you written in any other genre?

I write in many genres.  Horror will always be the favorite, my main one, but I like going in different directions.  Just as I always weave other genres into my horror tales, I also weave horror into my works for other genres.  I don’t really feel that I ever write in one genre alone.  My horror often contains some humor, suspense, fantasy, supernatural, thrills, and so on.  I am told I write prose poetically, and some of my poetry like prose, so I don’t even keep those two straight.  Being an artist, I guess I like to blend genres like paint.

3. What makes you uncomfortable?

Foul language is one.  Senseless and extreme content in books and films; material that is too explicit.  I don’t feel it’s necessary to convey a good story.  Cruelty makes me uncomfortable, especially toward animals and children.  Crudeness and cruelty, there you are.  And crud.  I’m kind of a germaphobe.  The three Cs.

4. Does your family read your work?

Some of it.  My sons were reading it, but they’ve been too busy lately, and they aren’t really horror fans.  So they’ve read most of my fantasy, stuff like that.  I have a handful of other relatives who have read a little.

5. Does your writing make you uneasy?

Now and then.  I never like to play it safe.  I take risks and experiment with characters, plot, themes, you name it.  Occasionally I tread beyond my comfort zone when a story demands it.  And then I will worry, how is it going to be taken by fans, by anyone?  I have to trust myself, my judgement and conscience.

6. Who would you say you write like?

I would be happy to write like Mary Shelley, Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Shakespeare, Victor Hugo.  I haven’t read more than excerpts of Neil Gaiman’s yet, but I am already a big fan.

I’m not trying to write like any of them, however.  I’m just trying to write like me.  I think I do that pretty well, although I’m still working on it.

7. Who are your favourite authors?

I named most of them in the previous answer.  There are more, and I’m adding new ones, authors I have met, online and off.  There are many I still need to find time to read, and then those might be on the list.  It continues to expand, you see.  I never remove any.  I’m a loyal fan.  I just wish I had more time to read these days.  I’ve been so busy writing, doing my artwork and editing, publishing and submitting.  I have so many projects to wrap up, and days are much too short.

8. Who influences you as a writer?

My main influences have been Doctor Seuss and Mother Goose, Lewis Carroll and Mary Shelley, Shakespeare, Bram Stoker and Mark Twain.  Not to mention the illustrious Ray Bradbury; Stephen King, Victor Hugo and Poe.  The Brothers Grimm.  Their works really stayed with me, along with various others.

9. Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?

My first favorite book was WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak.  It had monsters in it.  Before I could read, I kept getting it from the Public Library.  When I learned to read, I continued to check it out repeatedly.  I remember, too, in First Grade a teacher reading Washington Irving’s THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW.  I was enthralled.  Some of the Grimm’s fairytales were pretty dark.  Genuine “Horror”?  I read FRANKENSTEIN in Fifth Grade and wept.  It was breathtaking.  Of course, it is also considered Science Fiction.  After that I read DRACULA by Bram Stoker.  These are all very special books to me.  I started reading a mystery series, ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE THREE INVESTIGATORS, around Fourth and Fifth Grade.  The books contained a generous amount of horror elements.  I consumed them eagerly, like candy.  The boys went on creepy adventures, a lot like the SCOOBY-DOO cartoon series.  I was a fan of that too.

10. How old were you?

I was about four years old when I encountered the WILD THINGS book.  Around six when I listened raptly to SLEEPY HOLLOW.  I met FRANKENSTEIN on the page at age ten, I believe, but I had fallen in love with Victor Frankenstein’s Monster on the screen when I was about five or six.  And there were wonderful shows on then, THE ADDAMS FAMILY and THE MUNSTERS.  Family shows, albeit peculiar families.  What a time to grow up!

11. Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?

I do have limits, yet I don’t feel my work is lessened by it.  My subjects are fairly broad in range, but I will not cross certain lines, as edgy and intense as I may go.  My fanbase can actually have a pretty wide span of interests, since I do write in multiple genres, with so much diversity of topics and themes.

12. What was the best advice you were given as a writer?

I think the best and worst advice is to write what you know.  While I do feel strongly that writers should incorporate bits of their lives, their experiences, into their work . . . it is just as important to be creative and make things up; also to not be limited by your range of knowledge and expertise.  Research!  Explore!  Even if you’re slightly fuzzy in the details, most readers will not be aware of it.  I strive for accuracy, yet atmosphere and effect can be just as vital.  I bend rules when necessary for my style.  Now and then it may be needed for the setting or another element.  And I do like to exercise my imagination, a lot.  I wish the rest of me could exercise more!

13. If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?

I’ve been writing close to five decades.  I would probably try much harder much sooner to make time for it, for sending things out and to finish more of the projects I started.  I was so busy with being a mother, homeschooling my sons, encouraging them creatively and otherwise.  I don’t think I could have done a lot more, but I do feel so behind schedule, like I need to catch up.  I finally carved out a tiny office for writing in Ninety-Eight.  I was always creative, between songwriting and painting, penning fiction and nonfiction.  I published some illustrated editorial columns in small San Diego newspapers in the Nineties.  I had been a journalist in the Navy for several years right after High School.  I just didn’t get enough projects done years ago, and I wish I had.

14. How many books do you read a year?

I read (past tense) voraciously, nonstop, since I was a kid.  I’ve had to slow down on reading over the past few years because I’m so busy writing and doing artwork.  Less than two years ago we started going to events, book fairs and conventions.  We haven’t marketed that much and still need to do a lot more of that.  I am not a fast writer.  I do my own editing and covers and illustrations.  It takes time.  I work seven days a week, mostly, and spend very long hours at my desk without making a living at it.  With very little earnings at this point.  I am driven.  I have to be.  There are sacrifices, and right now reading books has been one of them.  I manage to read a short story now and then, or poems.  Networking, keeping up online bites a chunk out of the day.  I feel I read a lot, ha ha.  But that isn’t books either.  I love movies and try to watch a film or a show before bed to wind down.  I might play cards or Scrabble to relax on occasion.  My brain is too fatigued after hours of writing to read for more than a few minutes without dozing.  Or else I can’t focus because I have too much on my mind.

I do miss books.  I enjoy reading my own while editing them, but I tend to know what’s going to happen.

15. Do you write every day?

Yes, whether it’s fiction or poetry or nonfiction.  Or even in my head, I’ll be working on the current project.  Writing never stops.  It is always with me.  I don’t drive, so I write in the car when my sons and I go somewhere.  I can’t remember when I last took a break from writing.  It’s second nature to me, maybe first nature.  It’s part of me, and right now I don’t do much else besides art.

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