Today in Killion’s Kave: I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to know Leigh for a couple years now, and she was a pleasure to interview. She WOWed me with her podcasting story for her entry in the Wicked Women Writer Challenge in 2013 which challenged the whole “sheeple” mentality with nanobots joining the collective.
Since then, I have grown to adore Leigh and her passion for life, and especially her love of grammar. Let’s get to know this amazing lady and what she brings to the table for Women in Horror.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? How’d that work out for ya? I wanted to be a professional baton twirler with fire batons!!
In high school, I thought it would be pretty cool to be a narc like in 21 Jump Street. I had a thing for Johnny Depp. I also developed a passion for screenwriting and dreamed about writing for Richard Donner or HBO. Right?! Who didn’t want to be a cop with Johnny Depp! LOL
Is there a message in your stories that you want readers to grasp?
Yes: Be aware of the world around you; don’t allow complacency to slip blinders on you while you’re not paying attention; and you may be just one person, but don’t let that stop you from standing up for what you believe in and effecting change. If everyone says, “There’s nothing I can do” or “It’s not my problem,” rather than “We can do something about this,” the social and political horrors in all of my dystopian works will come to pass. (And that’s a scary thought.) I’ve done my part in the best way I know how—I’ve written these books. What part will you play in it?
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Don’t skip college—and take at least one grammar course. Learn about literary theory. Read all kinds of books, not just what you think will interest you. I hated reading Faulkner, but one of his books changed the way I thought about certain aspects of writing and added a whole new layer of depth to my books.
Don’t be too eager to publish, because that leads to two huge but common mistakes: getting stuck in bad contracts and self-publishing first or second novels when you’re still too green to realize your writing is not yet ready for the world. Patience is truly a virtue.
What about the horror genre interests you? Disgusts you?
I love horror that makes a point, but I want it to be both provocative and subtle. Psychological horror is probably at the top of my list. Zompoc is pretty close to the bottom. I don’t like reading sexual sadism, although some of that has crept up in a few of my works (I blame the muses). Gore for gore’s sake disgusts me.
What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
A while back, I developed blind spots that resulted most likely from a lupus complication. No doctor was able to tell me how bad the permanent damage would be or whether this was a problem that would continue to recur until I went completely blind. The thought of losing my eyesight terrified me, and that terror ruled my life for some time. It still scares me, but I’ve gotten a better handle on that fear. I haven’t developed any new blind spots for a good year or so, but I still check daily for changes in my vision.
Do you look to your own phobias to find subject matter? Are your stories the products of nightmares, childhood experiences, fantasies?
Sometimes, although I’ve been hesitant to write about certain fears. Writing about something so personal means facing those particular fears head on. It means admitting they affect me as profoundly as they do. It also means admitting I’m more vulnerable than I’d like to let on.
I have, however, explored certain fears and aspects of past experiences in my writing. If it left such a lasting impression on me, it’s got to be worth something in a story—right? In regard to dreams and nightmares, the first novel I ever wrote, which I actually co-wrote with my twin sister, was based on a series of dreams the two of us shared. (I’m guessing the shared dreams was a twin thing.) As far as nightmares go, if it scared me, I’ll try to find a place for it in a book. Why waste good material? I completely agree! 🙂
What is one stereotype about horror writers is absolutely wrong? What one stereotype is dead on?
I think some people are unable to make distinctions between the written content and the writers’ personal identities, which might make them view horror writers as weird, potentially violent, or disturbed. In my humble opinion, horror writers are some of the nicest, most passive people out there. I do think we are indeed a morbid bunch, though.
We definitely are not afraid to embrace those things others shy away from at all costs. 🙂
Tell me how you feel being a woman has either enhanced or hindered your writing in the horror genre.
I genuinely believe people—readers and writers alike—view me as a woman first and a writer second. I think people look at pictures of my sweet, smiling face and think, “She can’t possibly write any horror worth reading.”
People judge books by their covers; they also judge writers by their appearances. That’s just life. I just hope I see a little success before I grow into a sweet-looking old lady—because then the likely thought will be, “How could that sweet, old grandma write any horror worth reading?” and I think that would be an even harder sell.
Tell me more about Lisa! What’s on deck for 2015?
My dystopian thriller The Private Sector is slated for release through Eldritch Press, although I still don’t have the ETA or the cover art. I’m also anticipating a couple of anthology releases that include my short stories “You and I” and “If These Walls Could Speak,” both supernatural horrors—again, no publication dates set as of yet.
I have an agent lined up to read my current novel, which I believe might just be my best work to date. I’ve also been sitting on Aftermath: Beyond World-Mart, undecided as to whether I want to self-publish it or send it off to one of my current publishers. It’s a tough one since it sequels a novel I did self-publish, but I believe it deserves more attention than merely KDP or CreateSpace could offer.
Be sure and keep us updated as to how your new agent works out for you. 🙂
And, of course … my signature question: What is something that truly frightens you and how do you deal with it?
I carry a lot of existential angst. Fear of the unknown gets me worked up more than I’d like to admit. I think it’s a common fear, one that defines humanity on one level or another, and so I use it as a theme in much of my supernatural horror.