Daphne Strasert is a horror, fantasy, and speculative fiction writer from Houston, Texas. She has published many short stories through HorrorAddicts.net, Dark Water Syndicate, and Crimson Streets. When not writing, she plays board games and knits. Her interests include monsters, murder mysteries, and things that go bump in the night.
Her story, “Companions,” appears in the Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.
NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?
DS: I was originally drawn to the aesthetic that was often used in gothic movies: big haunted houses, frail heroines in long skirts, dark corners, and misty moors. From there, I found the works of Poe, the Bronte sisters, Stoker, and Shelley. I liked the slow burn of the horror and the doomed romance that was often featured.
NTK: How do you define “romance”?
DS: Romance is the longing to be with another person, to know everything about them and share yourself in turn. Romance means wanting what is best for the other person. The desire to protect your love, whether from physical harm or emotional torment is strong. I believe that true romance can only exist between equals.
NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?
DS: I will always love Dracula. It was the first true gothic horror story I read and remains the only book that ever truly scared me. I appreciate how many variations have come from the original work and the many interpretations that it inspired. But the original still remains as impressive as when it was first published.
NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?
DS: I love Crimson Peak (that may be a common answer to this question). I think it’s an underrated film from Guillermo del Toro. The costumes and set created a fantastic atmosphere. The film mixed horror (both jump scares and situational horror) with romance and tragedy. Most importantly, the story was motivated by a strong female lead.
NTK: Are your characters based on real people?
NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?
DS: I always write using an outline. During the initial inspiration phase, I will write scenes as they come to me and keep them in a “sandbox” for later use. Once the story starts to come together, I outline the scenes I need to pace the action and emotional arcs, then fill in the scenes I haven’t written yet.
NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?
DS: My characters are completely at my mercy. I create them to fit the plot and tone of the piece. If I find that the actions they need to do are out of character for them, then I spend time rethinking their character. I build them so that they will work within the world I want, so I’m rarely surprised.
NTK: What are you most afraid of?
DS: I really, really hate zombies. I’ve never liked zombie movies (it doesn’t matter if they’re slow zombies or fast). The idea of society collapsing, leaving nothing that we recognize is terrifying. I don’t want to be part of rebuilding the world from scratch while also running from cannibalistic corpses.
NTK: What is your favorite romance?
DS: Jane Eyre stands out as my favorite. Jane is a strong woman who refused to compromise herself for her love (even when that was painful to her). She did not allow herself to be beholden to a man who was more powerful than her. When she found out about Mr. Rochester’s secrets and failings, she did not overlook them, but held him accountable. The romance was only fulfilled when they could truly have an equal partnership.
NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?
DS: Meg Hafdahl. She wrote the Willoughby Chronicles (including Her Dark Inheritance, which I reviewed for HorrorAddicts.net) as well as a number of non-fiction books about the horror industry. She’s a true horror fan herself.
NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?
DS: I am always working on new short stories. My story “Blood and Ivory” will be published in the Sonorous Silence anthology by Pavor Press. I am also drafting a new novel that features a haunted house.