Laurel Anne Hill has authored two award-winning novels, most recently The Engine Woman’s Light (Sand Hill Review Press), a gripping spirits-meet-steampunk tale set in an alternate 19th Century California. Laurel’s published short stories total over thirty. She’s a Literary Stage Manager, speaker, anthology editor, and writing contest judge.
1.) How old were you when you first discovered horror?
I was eight years old when my mom took me to see the scary science fiction movie The Thing from Another World. Afterwards, I had nightmares for weeks. Sometime between age seven and ten, Mom took me to see Dracula (starring Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein (starring Boris Karloff). No nightmares from those two films. I became hooked on classical horror.
2.) What author has influenced you most?
Many authors have influenced me a great deal. If I can only name one, however, I’ll say Ray Bradbury.
3.) What inspired you to write your piece, “13th Maggot?”
An article in the newspaper about medical maggots caught my attention. Plus, I worked several years in the field of regulatory compliance for a biotechnology startup company.
4.) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?
I give my characters a lot of personal space during the first manuscript draft or two. After that, we generally need to have some serious discussions inside of my brain. Often my point prevails, but not always. For example, in “13th Maggot,” ongoing drafts held complicated conflicts between my main character and the woman she works with in the lab. The complexity detracted from the main story, but it took my protagonist great effort to show me why we needed a change.
5.) Do you listen to music when you write? Who do you listen to?
I used to listen to music often when writing, or before sitting down to write. This music connected me to my protagonists’ emotions. The pattern changed during the final years of my husband’s life. David—my beloved—was the co-protagonist in my daily life, our joint story written with each sunrise and sunset. These days, I’m trying to reintroduce music to my writing experience. I concentrate on the same sort of music as before: general classical, world, baroque organ, ballet and opera favorites, 50’s favorites, bagpipes, and other music David and I used to listen to together.
6.) Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere! Rain hitting my face. Tulips blooming. The sound of a steam locomotive’s whistle. The early morning taste of coffee. The odor of pine trees. Sunrises and sunsets. Shadows on the bedroom ceiling in the dark.
7.) What is your favorite horror novel?
Bram Stoker’s Dracula, of course, tied for first place with several others, such as The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, and Ghost Story by Peter Straub.
8.) Favorite horror movie?
The Shining, without a doubt.
9.) Favorite horror television show?
The six o’clock news.
10.) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?
I’m going through the process of finding a freelance fantasy/magical realism editor for my novel-in-progress: Plague of Flies. Sand Hill Review Press has expressed interest in the final product. Plague of Flies is not a horror story, but blends true horrific events with fantasy and magical realism in 1846 Mexican California, during the Bear Flag Rebellion, when the USA stole Alta California from Mexico.