Desiree Byars is a new author and released her first book, Patchwork, in April 2020. She lives with her husband and several rescue animals. She’s a fan of all things spooky, dark, and twisty. When she’s not writing, she’s reading horror, watching horror, and playing video games.
Desiree is a humble and honest lady. We spoke of writing, parents, and horror videogames.
NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Desiree! Thank you for joining me.
DB: Thanks for having me! Excited to be here!
NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?
DB: The earliest I remember is six. My dad used to show me horror movies against my mother’s wishes. I wrote my first horror story at six as a class essay project.
NTK: Awesome! Do you have a favorite horror movie?
DB: Too many to count. It depends on the mood I’m in. If we’re talking torture porn stuff, I like the Saw franchise, Hostel, Devils Rejects, stuff like that. If I’m looking for classic stuff, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Stand, Cujo, Pet Sematary. Some of the cheesier, really poorly acted cult stuff is great too.
NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?
DB: I don’t watch as much television as I used to. I’m still sticking with The Walking Dead because I have too much invested to give up. Nothing else really jumps out at me. Some of the Stephen King and Joe Hill adaptations haven’t been bad.
NTK: What about video games? Do you have a favorite horror video game?
DB: I love horror games! I started with the Silent Hill and Resident Evil franchises as a little kid. The Last of Us is top-notch. Both Condemned games I enjoyed. Alan Wake was great. Outlast was good. I think horror games are getting better in a lot of ways, and I’m always excited to see what’s next.
NTK: Have you played the Mortal Kombat games with the horror icons? I know MKXL has Alien, Predator, and Leatherface. One also has Freddy Kreuger.
DB: I haven’t played Mortal Kombat since I was a kid. I had to play it at other kids’ houses because I wasn’t allowed. I would laugh and laugh at those fatalities though. Now I’ll have to find me a copy.
NTK: I think you’ll love those. They’re fun. What do you think is the best horror video game of all time?
DB: That’s a big question. For me, it’s also dependent on what you’re looking for. Storywise? The Last of Us, hands down. That’s focusing on story and less on jump scares and whatnot. Outlast is pretty scary, from the jump scare place. Alan Wake had a good atmosphere. I am not good at this picking just one thing. (Laughs.) Can’t do it!
NTK: Do you gain inspiration from these mediums? What inspires your writing?
DB: It comes from everywhere. Reading, playing the games, watching the movies. It comes from sitting on a park bench watching people. It comes from a trip to the zoo, the grocery store. I’m always watching and absorbing what’s around me. I don’t think I could pinpoint one inspiration.
NTK: What inspired “Bailey Marie?” Was it several things?
DB: Bailey could be a real child. She is a story of nature versus nurture. Here you have this child who comes from a home with a neglectful, abusive mother, and a loving but often absent father. This child is beyond her years, and given more to shoulder than any child ever should. And those children sometimes snap. You see the stories on the news about these kids, five, six, seven years old that are snapping every day in the news. Is it the kids? Were they born that way? Or if you dig deeper, is there something going on at home, from birth, that created them this way. So wondering how all that works is what brought Bailey about. Kids are all sweet and cupcakes and that’s what people want to hear about. But what about the dark ones?
NTK: That’s interesting you’re exploring the theme of “The Bad Seed.” How do you deal with your characters? Did you plan everything Bailey would do? Or did you give her free will?
DB: All of my characters, in every story have complete free will. I do not plot or plan anything. My fingers go on the keyboard and they tell their story. I honestly don’t think about it much at all. When I start to think it muddles up my story, every time. So I let them do their thing.
NTK: Who is your favorite author? Is he/she your biggest influence?
DB: If I have to pick one, it’s Joe Hill hands down. I own everything he’s done. Second would be his father, Stephen King. I also own his complete collection. I was reading King around eleven years old, so he definitely had the most influence on me, both as far as what to do, and what not to do. I love the freshness Hill has, and his interviews and talks have taught me a lot about the craft. Poe is another obvious choice. There’s an indie writer out there, Mike Lane, that’s also been a huge influence on my work. Another indie, Jae Mazer, who showed me it was okay to write strong women in horror. There’s so many that had an impact in ways big and small. It took a village to get me here for sure.
NTK: What is your favorite Joe Hill book? Are you a fan of Locke and Key?
DB: NOS4A2 is my all-time favorite book, over any other book I’ve ever read and probably will read. I read it at least once a year. The Fireman, Heart-Shaped Box, both also favorites. Really anything he’s done rates up top with me. I own Locke and Key but have not read it yet. I’m ashamed!
NTK: What do your parents think of your writing?
DB: My dad died in 2004, long before I went for the writing thing. He always thought I’d make a good writer. And I know if he were here, he’d be so proud and excited. And he’d tell everyone it’s because he made me watch all that stuff as a kid. (Laughs.) My mom…she’s very proud and she owns the book but I’m not sure she will read it! She says she will but she is a very not dark person. She usually shushes me when I start talking about dark and icky stuff. But I know she’s proud.
NTK: Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?
DB: The only curses I really know much about are the Harry Potter ones. Big Potterhead here. Crucio is the worst. Otherwise, I’m not sure. So many different ones in different books and movies.
NTK: What’s your favorite curse word?
NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?
DB: Well my first book, Patchwork, which includes “Bailey Marie” released early, on Friday, March 13th. There are three other stories in addition to “Bailey Marie” that I’m very proud of. Otherwise, I’m working on something new that I hope will come around sometime next year. I’m subbing out short stories and trying to get my name out there, so hopefully, you’ll see me popping up in places soon.
NTK: Awesome! Thank you so much for chatting with me, Desiree. It was a pleasure!
DB: This was great. It was a pleasure chatting with you, and I hope to do it again someday! Thank you so much again for having me!