Interview with Author Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie Ellis is a busy woman of horror.

Based in Southampton, United Kingdom, Ellis divides her time as a writer of dark, speculative fiction; as editor of Horror Tree’s weekly ezine, Trembling With Fear; and as co-curator and contributor of The Infernal Clock anthologies.

Her latest project, Dark is my Playground, is her solo debut, a collection of dark verse and twisted nursery rhymes released on July 24.

Visit https://stephellis.weebly.com/ for more about Ellis and her writing.

In an exclusive interview with HorrorAddicts.net, Ellis discusses her new book and the other hats she wears.

THE LIGHTNING ROUND

  1. A favorite movie? The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  2. Favorite binge-watching series on Netflix? Being Human
  3. A favorite author? Terry Pratchett
  4. A favorite book? The Stand
  5. A favorite visual artist? J.M.W. Turner
  6. A favorite musical artist? Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails
  7. Any song stuck your head? Soultaker, “Blutengel” (this classical version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_sNkmGgF8o)
  8. A favorite website? Horror Tree!
  9. Pet peeve? Writing to a deadline and missing out on real life events only for the deadline to be extended when you’ve bust a gut to submit in time.
  10. You have one last meal. What do you want to see on that plate? My eldest, Bethan’s, Chilli Mac (vegetarian).

THE REAL INTERVIEW

Q1: You released Dark is My Playground in July, a collection of dark verse and twisted nursery rhymes. What draws you to the horror genre?

ELLIS: The atmosphere and emotion it generates. I’ve never been one for romance novels. I read most of my mum’s Georgette Heyer and Catherine Cookson books when I was about 11 years old, but found I didn’t have the patience for the ‘heroines’ in such books. I like stories with a bit more meat on them, a serious problem to overcome and usually that means something dark. Horror for me is darkness, not gore or gratuitous violence, and I like to read (and write) about what someone would do when confronted with some of their worst fears. How far would a person go to save themselves or someone else? I think horror allows you to explore human emotions and motivation at a deeper level, our baser instincts if you like.

Q2: You’re a talented writer who’s been published in numerous anthologies and collections, yet you indicated in your blog that there was a bit of trepidation in releasing Dark is My Playground, your first major solo project. You said that being among a list of other writers in anthologies was a “comfort blanket,” giving you something to hide behind. What were you hiding from?

ELLIS: Thank you, that’s kind of you to say but the answer’s easy – fear of failure. Like all writers I have huge bouts of self-doubt, fighting that old ‘imposter syndrome’ on a regular basis. It’s also partly because this is self-published and this means it’s me thinking they’re good enough to be read more widely – but what if I am deluded? I also hate promoting myself and my work, a very British trait.

Q3: You obviously love words. In Dark is My Playground, the poems are so beautifully written. I’ve already expressed my admiration for the phrase “bark-womb of the bellied tree,” which you said was inspired by an image. How important are visual prompts to your poetry?

ELLIS: Very. I’m one of those people who spent their childhood seeing images in clouds, something I still do and something my own children (now adults) also indulge in. The visual provides a more immediate trigger to an idea and allows my writing to almost become a stream of consciousness without having to think about it. Visual Verse where The Deceiver was first published only allows one hour to write 50 to 500 words and that allows a freedom in writing. No pretence or trying to be clever, I just play with the words. That particular poem is actually my own personal favourite. I look at it sometimes and still can’t believe I wrote it. Old flash competitions, sadly no longer with us, such as Flash Friday and The Angry Hourglass, would use images, and I think what I enjoyed the most was the personification of the inanimate. There was a house in one picture which had one window closed and immediately it brought ideas of eyes and watching to mind, giving me the introduction ‘I have a house. It sleeps with one eye open. Watchful in the wilderness, it keeps me safe.’ The picture gives me the ‘way in’ to a poem or story.

Q4: You are also the editor for one of my favorite online features on Horror Tree website called Trembling With Fear, which publishes short stories and drabbles (100-word shorts). With time always being an issue for writers, why do you wear that editorial hat, which must cut in to your writing time?

ELLIS: Firstly, because Stuart Conover, editor at Horror Tree, asked for help and as I had achieved much of my publishing success as a result of his submission calls, I figured it was a way of saying thank you. The other part was due to me assessing my future in writing. This last year or so, I decided was the time I was going to take it seriously and not just in terms of trying to get a novel published or extra short stories out there but by becoming more involved in the horror community. Writing is very isolating and with no community as such in my part of the world, it does not feel ‘real.’ By becoming involved with TWF, I’ve made contact with a lot of great writers – yourself included – and I now feel like a ‘proper writer’; I’ve even met a couple of other writers in real life recently and turned online friendships into real ones. In terms of time, I had not expected it to take up as much as it has done, but that’s a result of TWF growing and becoming more well-known. What I also enjoy is coming into contact with writers who say TWF is the first time they’ve ever subbed for publication and I like being able to give feedback and encouragement even if they don’t get selected – pulling them into the ‘family’ if you like, removing a little bit of that isolation we all experience. It’s also great when I see them being published for the first time, and they’re over the moon about it. Actually, a knock-on effect of these demands is a greater focus on my writing time. If I have free time I procrastinate; a deadline or limited time forces me to concentrate … mostly. Editing is something I’ve done a lot of in the past, although as a tech writer/project manager in a technical publications company has also made this aspect easier for me.

Q5: Speaking of time, you’re also a co-curator for the time-themed anthologies of The Infernal Clock. Why the time themes and why the passion for this particular project, which is yet another time-consuming demand?

ELLIS: The Infernal Clock is something born very much out of friendship, going back to my roots in the FlashDog community. The FlashDogs are a looser pack these days as we are all doing different things but it was effectively an online group of people who competed against each other on flash fiction sites such as FlashFriday, Angry Hourglass, MicroBookends and other places. David Shakes was one of the original members of this group. I became part of it about a year later and we became online friends (and again have met in real life). He had the idea for the first Infernal Clock project, which a large number of FlashDogs submitted to – and then asked for help getting it out. Do you see a pattern forming here? So, I stepped up, we got the first book published (The Infernal Clock) and had some good reviews and then before I knew it we were discussing a follow-up (CalenDark) and now we are in the process of finalising DeadCades, which is due for publication October 1st. This latest anthology includes a number of writers from Horror Tree’s TWF as well as old FlashDog friends, each writing a story set in a particular decade from 1880 to 2020. We have been amazingly lucky to get writer-of-the-moment Vox author Christina Dalcher (who also wrote us a story for CalenDark) to write our foreword and our first long story in the collection is from award-winning author Deborah Sheldon. We also have some great stories from the other contributors, so I have high hopes for this book. The time theme was in keeping with the Infernal Clock name. Shakes muttered something about centuries, but I said no … DeadCades is the last of the time-themed anthologies. It won’t end there though. We have plans for a magazine, but some research and planning is required. We want to make this a paying market, so will be taking our time in sorting out exactly what we want to do with it. Glutton for punishment.

Q6: I follow you on Twitter, and I see you are constantly writing, or reading and editing other writers’ submissions, or helping with publication of anthologies … I’m tired just thinking about it. Where does this passion for the written word come from?

ELLIS: I have just loved reading. For as long as I can remember I’ve had piles of books around the place. I remember going to town as a child with my Dad to visit the library and being able to leave with a pile of books was wonderful. Growing up in an isolated country pub when your parents work pretty much all day leaves you on your own a lot of the time. I had sisters but you still had to find ways to entertain yourself – no 24-hour or satellite TV or internet then. So reading became my escape. They became movies in my head, and I was able to experience a different reality if only for a while. I still love to read, and sometimes I have to put everything on hold and just read a book from cover-to-cover; it’s almost a physical need in a way. I can’t imagine not reading. Words are amazing; they have so much power whether triggering wars, providing a religious code or instilling an emotion. History can turn on what has been said or written.

Q7: How does your family feel about your writing? Outside of advice on fonts, how do they influence or inspire your writing?

ELLIS: In the past, I always called my writing ‘scribbling,’ as if it wasn’t something I took seriously, so they didn’t pay too much attention to it. Once I started getting published they took a bit more notice but not too much. Now they are all very supportive, even if they don’t always read what I write! My daughters now give me advice, including what to write about and the range of merchandise it could generate, not to mention being a box set on Netflix. I remember when they read the poem ‘The Darkness is my Playground.’ they were shocked at the violence implied in it. Not something they’ve ever associated with me. I’m the most harmless person you could imagine – but it is nice to shock people sometimes, deliver the unexpected.

Q8: You’re from the United Kingdom, but in your role as an editor, you read stories from authors all around the world. Do you notice any differences in style or tone between UK writers and writers from the USA? Have you noticed any writing trends in any countries or regions?

ELLIS: Apart from the spellings, I don’t see any real differences. The same topics and tropes appear, and I never approach reading or writing with the idea that we are somehow separate. I think it’s because we are all ‘Westerners’ so we have a lot of common ground. I do have to try and avoid correcting U.S. English at Horror Tree, although I standardise to UK English for Infernal Clock.  I have been invited to write a flash piece for an anthology edited by Oleg Hasanov (Russian). This particular publication will include many writers from across the globe including those from Eastern European and Asia, and I’ll be really interested to see what the authors from those areas come up with. Which reminds me, I must get to work on it – and I do have an idea, based on a picture I saw on a van.

Q9: What defines success for you as a writer? Is it enough to be published or is success something more?

ELLIS: It changes as I go on, e.g., first publication, first contract, first invitation to write, but ultimately success is validation of my writing, knowing that people genuinely enjoy what I write and aren’t just being nice. And yes, I’d love to get my novel published.

Q10: What scares you?

ELLIS: On a mundane level – daddy long legs. Otherwise it’s water. In my first-ever swimming lesson, I think I must’ve been about 5 or 6, we lined up by the pool and one of the other kids pushed me in the deep end. I can still picture myself underwater and hearing the teacher say, ‘Don’t worry, she’ll get herself out.’ And I did. But lessons from then on saw me down on the shallow end and even now water over my face makes me remember that feeling of suffocation and panic.

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Chilling Chat Episode 159 Patrick C. Greene

As a toddler, Patrick C. Greene created horrors in crayon before discovering comics and horror fiction. Despite nights spent hiding under covers, he was always drawn to dark tales.

After cutting his fangs on screenwriting Greene found his true calling in prose with the debut novel Progeny. He favors horror that is emotionally engaging, terrifying, and suspenseful.

Greene’s other works include the collection Dark Destinies, action-packed vampire novel The Crimson Calling, and The Haunted Hollow Chronicles: Red Harvest, coming Halloween from Lyrical Press.

Western North Carolinian Greene heeds his morbid muse when not enjoying monstrous helpings of Horror, Kung Fu, and Doom Metal.

Patrick has a style all his own. We spoke of his childhood in Western North Carolina, writing, and his fascination with Faustian themes.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Patrick! Let’s get down to business. What got you interested in Horror?

PCG: Like many small fry, I was interested in dinosaurs, and that led to Godzilla movies, which have a good bit of genre crossover.

The first exposures to real horror came via a paperback collection of Tales from the Crypt comics I found on my father’s bookshelf, which I believe he confiscated from one of his college students.

He told me about the Universal monster series so I made a point of watching all of those I could find.

The third influence was the death of my Aunt Helen, when I was maybe four or five. I was just beginning to get close to her when she passed. Death was no longer a distant abstraction. I suppose I needed to understand just what it was. I still have drawings from then with images of corpses and skeletons.

NTK: Did your father encourage your interest in horror? What was your childhood like?

PCG: Yes, and in some ways, he was not aware he was even doing so. My dad was a novelist as well as a newspaper editor and often found himself covering gruesome crime or just bizarre stories. He had a police band radio that he monitored at night. Once, I recall him rousting my brothers and me from bed and piling us in the car. There had been a UFO sighting nearby, and if there was one to be seen, he wanted us to have that experience. He and my mother were very excited, but my brothers and I—less so, and more terrified of encountering the hostile variety of spacemen we’d seen on TV.

Another such incident involved a wildcat that had been heard near the mountain community where we lived. I can’t remember if anyone had lost animals or whatnot, but my dad took it upon himself to hunt the damn thing, and I went with him. It was a crisp clear night and we hiked into the woods. Several times, we heard its cry; like a screaming woman—chilling to the bone.

NTK: Did you grow up in Western North Carolina? Mountainous areas have a reputation for frightening stories. Did the geography influence your writing?

PCG: Yes, my parents discovered a few acres outside of Asheville and had a two-story log house built on it. There are quite a few ghost stories connected to the region and my dad was not shy about sharing them on camping trips and cold nights. There are flesh and blood dangers too, such as a pack of wild dogs; runaways and strays that had come together.

Oddly, I saw greener grass on the other side, so to speak. I had a long phase of wishing to be a big-city boy. Due to this longing, I was attracted to comics, films, and books that were set in seedy metropolises. Clive Barker, my favorite author, often sets his work in urban areas.

But I am in touch with the isolation of this geography (I’m back on that track now) and I do feel uniquely attuned to its scary potential. I’ve embraced the wilderness figuratively and literally.

Stingy Jack and Other Tales by [Greene, Patrick C.]NTK: Did this “scary potential” inspire the story “Stingy Jack?” How did that come about?

PCG: In a roundabout way. I’ve tried for a few years to grow pumpkins in my front yard, largely without success. I looked up ways to improve my chances and fell into a rabbit hole, as will happen, about the origins of Halloween, the reasons for Jack O Lanterns, etc. Stingy Jack, the face of the legend struck me as an interesting character in his own right. There are a good many tellings of this story but I had never seen one done as a prose narrative. Stingy Jack has the potential to be a seasonal symbol like Ichabod Crane.

NTK: You’ve written a book called, Red Harvest, which (like Stingy Jack) features the Devil. What drew you to the theme of those who sell their souls?

PCG: I fit the classic mold of a child born into traditional Christian belief, which I later came to question. Whether you view him as a real being or an archetype, Lucifer is a character of greater nuance than he’s given credit for: a wicked being of only hate and spite, seeking to destroy good and replace it with evil. One person’s idea of selling one’s soul can be another’s idea of taking personal responsibility for your life, come what may. Alternately it can be regarded as the necessary opposite to the essential goodness; each defining the other.

To me, Stingy Jack seems to be a simple lesson in planning ahead. Both Jack and The Devil are stuck in the moment of their decisions. The tale probably served as yet another variation on the boogie man theme that parents use to keep their children from going astray, which seems like lazy parenting if you think about it—which makes it the ultimate irony. I wanted to show the consequences that Jack’s actions have on others, on the world around him. Jack’s avarice and self-centeredness rival even Lucifer’s, and that’s why he is doomed; both tragic and terrifying because he will never change.

The “devil” in Red Harvest is a very different take than that of Stingy Jack. Fair to say, these two demonic fellows would scarcely know each other at all. Both take place on Halloween as well, so I hope readers will let me share their scares this season, and for many to come.

NTK: That’s a new and fascinating take on the old legend. You spoke of Clive Barker earlier. Did he influence your writing?

PCG: Clive Barker’s work seemed almost alien to me when I first read it, whereas King’s felt like home. A scary, spooky home.

I remember seeing Barker’s Hellraiser and thinking what a perfect horror show this is, with a living corpse in the attic, demonic entities threatening to come through the walls, and worst of all: a cold murderess dominating a supremely effed-up family. Red Harvest is likewise a horrific potpourri, and hopefully as well-drawn and tightly-woven.

Hellraiser led me to The Books Of Blood, and one of my all-time favorite novels, The Damnation Game—which brings us back to the Faustian pacts, now that I think about it.

NTK: What about King and Koontz? Of those two, who do you think is the best?

PCG: As a young adult, I appreciated Koontz and King in equal measure, and Intensity will always be a favorite too. But for sheer consistency of quality to volume ratio, King will reign for many years. He continues to get better, even after all this time, and leaves us writers with no excuses for not producing.

The Stand, Pet Sematary, The Talisman and Carrie all seem to have graced me at the perfect time in my life, or perhaps were so strong they molded my life to fit their stories!

NTK: Do you enjoy the film adaptations of Barker’s work?

PCG: For the most part, yes. I love Candyman, but I’m not the fan of Nightbreed that many Barker fans are. Midnight Meat Train and Lord of Illusions are great adaptations. Then there’s Rawhead Rex. That one had the potential to be another Pumpkinhead, but just fell apart. Maybe someone will give it another shot.

NTK: What horror films and television shows do you watch?

PCG: Lately I’ve been watching Hannibal, which is heads and shoulders above most TV horror fare. I did enjoy Penny Dreadful, though I think it got a little played out. I’ve kind of given up on Supernatural. I’m eager to see The Frankenstein Chronicles.

I’m finding the superhero fad to be a bit stale, which is sad because I was an enthusiastic Marvel reader as a boy. I like what Legendary is doing with Godzilla and Kong and I’m pumped for the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters!

I love the 70s and 80s feel, the way it’s incorporated into Stranger Things. I worked really Red Harvest (The Haunted Hollow Chronicles) by [Greene, Patrick C.]hard to reflect some of that in Red Harvest, along with elements of the 50s. Red Harvest’s town of Ember Hollow is like some time warp mix of 50s and 80s.

I’m about a year behind on all the big horror hits, but I’m also a fan of martial arts flicks.

NTK: Do you ever incorporate martial arts into your horror stories?

PCG: Oh yes. My novel The Crimson Calling contains several characters who are well-trained, particularly the heroine Olivia Irons, who is ex-special forces. She’s called upon to lead one faction of vampires against another. There a good many wild fight scenes in which martial arts are enhanced by the combatants’ vampire abilities.

Under Wicked Sky is a sci-fi horror novel I have had accepted by Sinister Grin Press, with plans for a 2019 release. The story centers around a post-global warming world in which the concept of law has essentially become meaningless, and guns are scarce. There are a good many brutal fight scenes.

Finally, the story “Cinderblock,” contained in the Stingy Jack collection, is about a boxer’s ghost who still has plenty of knockout power.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What projects do you have to share with the Horror Addicts? Any films involved?

PCG: I’ve become reticent to discuss film projects, as so few ever come to fruition! Both my bigfoot novel Progeny and the aforementioned Under Wicked Sky have been optioned for production and a martial arts web series I wrote is in some kind of limbo it seems.

Red Harvest is the first in a trilogy called The Haunted Hollow Chronicles, and I’m writing the second entry now with a release planned for next year through Kensington’s Lyrical imprint.

Beyond that, there are still plans for a follow-up to The Crimson Calling.

NTK: As you know, season 13 of Horror Addicts is CURSED! Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

PCG: Stingy Jack is, of course, cursed to roam the In-Between until he finds someone gullible enough to be tricked into taking his place!

Another interesting curse that comes to mind is from King’s Thinner, with the main character wasting away, day by day, for his moment of carelessness.

The film Drag Me To Hell depicts a horrific and sinister curse!

NTK: Those are great curses! Thank you for chatting with me, Patrick. You’re a fascinating person.

PCG: Thank YOU Naching! It’s been a lot of fun.

Terror Trax: The Creptter Children

The Creptter Children
by Russell Holbrook

While recently meditating in the dank sanctuary of a bleak, rotting cathedral, I was horrified to open my eyes and find a dusty old hymnal floating in the air before me. The name, Creptter Children, was carved across the tome’s ancient cover. As I reached out for the songbook, it opened with a ruffle of pages. Dark blood seeped out of the paper, running down the center crease and spilling onto the floor. I touched the blood, and the book pulled me into itself, snapping shut, trapping me. I found myself in an inverted world. The cathedral was a negative image of itself. A powerful, female voice called from the surrounding darkness. “I will give you the answers you seek,” she said. I stepped forward to a small table where sat a quill, parchment, and ink. Vocalist, Lyricist, and guitarist extraordinaire Iballa Chantelle floated out of the shadows on a throne made of skulls and cobwebs. The throne descended, and as she spoke the prophetic words of questions I had yet to ask, I began to write.

-What’s behind the band name? What is a Creptter child? Who are the Creptter Children?
The name ‘Creptter’ is a word created from a premonition I had many years ago, where an entity told me I was going to start a band called ‘The Creptter Children’. ‘Creptter’ means spiritually evolved, the abilities that lay among us all to be spiritually aware, physic and our powers to better oneself.

-What do you love about dark, heavy music?
I love everything about the dark and heavy! I love the build-ups and the amazing energy I get from listening. It’s like walking into a theme park; you’re overwhelmed with excitement!

-Listeners often discuss a black metal element in your sound. Where does this element originate from?
Theses influences stem more from my end, as I’m a fan of the black metal genre. N8or also enjoys black metal to a certain degree as well particularly when it comes to drumming influences.  I especially love symphonic black metal. I enjoy listening to bands of this style. I love gathering ideas and inspiration for my own song writings.

-What’s the dark music scene like in Australia? How does it compare to that of the scene in America?
Unfortunately, Australia has a rather small dark/gothic music scene compared to places such as the USA and Europe.

-How did the band get together?
The band formed originally in Perth Western Australia during 2006. I had left a previous band and N8or had offered to produce some of my music. I liked what he had to offer so I asked him to start a band with me and that’s how The Creptter Children began!

-Who are some bands that you enjoy?
I enjoy listening to many bands. Mostly in the metal genre. I do also listen to other music genres but metal will always be life! Some of my favorite metal bands I love include Dimmu Borgir, Immortal, Behemoth, Manson, Carach Angren, Septic Flesh, Belphegor and Cannibal Corpse. There’s just too many to choose from but you get the idea of what I’m into!

-How does horror inspire and influence Creptter Children?
Horror is every day! I’m attracted to the darker things in life. Some interests I have include the supernatural, extra-terrestrials, space, planets & collecting oddities. I like including these elements into the band and music. Obviously, N8or and I both love horror movies! Some of our favourites include; Nightmare on Elm St, Halloween and Child’s Play.

-As individuals, what kinds of horror art are you into?
I like a lot of satanic and fantasy style of art as well as oil paintings from the Renaissance period. N8or also appreciates similar art styles as well as modern day pop art and graphics

-Are you classically trained musicians or self-taught?
I’m a self-taught vocalist. I have had training in the past with guitar tuition in my early teens. N8or has also had some musical training and is a self-taught music producer and owner of ‘The Crib’ Recording Studio in Melbourne Australia.

-Where does the inspiration for your lyrics come from?
My music converses issues, fantasy & my life experiences.

-What are the future plans for the band?
More releases, upcoming music videos, and tours

-If you could play at the apocalypse, what song would you end your set with?
If we’re talking zombie apocalypse then you’ll probably see us fighting off zombies as opposed to rocking out!! But let’s just say we’ll finish on “Possessed”!

Check out Creptter Children’s newest video, “Asleep with Your Devil”!  :

 And the classic “Possessed”!

Find all the demonic goodness here: http://www.thecreptterchildren.com

Chilling Chat Episode 158 Mercy Hollow

Mercy Hollow was born in Florida, where she was terrorized by alligators, fire ants, rabid raccoons, sharks, drunken college students, and 100% humidity. She lived on three continents (four if you count the foreign realm of her imagination) and planted her feet in San Francisco. She has a love of hockey, motorcycles, and anything deemed weird. She writes about gritty underworlds, twists, deception, strong men, stronger women, and a hidden part of Chicago you’ve never seen. She is a freelance editor and workshop facilitator.

Mercy is a woman of many talents with a fascinating past. We spoke of forensic psychology, writing, and her take on good and evil.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Mercy. Thank you for chatting with me.

MH: Glad to be here. Thanks for having me on.

NTK: You have traveled the world and visited many continents. What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?

MH: While I’ve had some interesting, blood pumping, and challenging situations overseas, the scariest was in my home state of Florida. I was lost alone in the Everglades at night for hours with only a lighter.

NTK: Wow! How did that happen? And, how did you get out?

MH: I may have made a bad decision of who to hang out with for the evening. We had a disagreement and they left, taking the boat with them. I have a good sense of direction and a strong desire not to be eaten by alligators so I took my time, avoided the water, and eventually found a path.

NTK: Good job! Did this incident inspire you to become a horror writer? What got you interested in writing horror?

MH: With my previous career in forensic psychology, I got to delve into the darkest parts of people’s minds. See what people were capable of, both to cause ill and overcome tragedy and disaster. I love stories that capture these emotions and could get inside me. Characters that stuck with me, grabbed on, and wouldn’t let go. Writing fiction was a great escape from the real life hardships I saw every day in my job. But, I like dark things. Nighttime is my happy place, so my writing tends to flow to struggle and fight against it.

NTK: Did you solve any crimes during your time in forensic psychology?

MH: I worked with a lot of violent offenders and victims of violent crimes. I was involved in cases, prevention, and rehabilitation. I worked with all the agencies involved, from probation, parole, jails, and mental hospitals to court, police, schools, foster care, and emergency rooms. A team of people working together to make the streets and homes safer and help people that need it, including the offenders. I got to understand and see the other side of violent crime that many don’t. There are stories beneath every action and choice.

NTK: Did you draw on this experience when you wrote Scythe? Did it help you develop your villains as well as your heroes?

MH: Definitely. To me, villains aren’t evil. And, heroes aren’t good. They make the choice they make for a reason. What life throws at you and what shelters you from it is a huge influence on people. The three brothers that rule the Legion in Scythe have all been dealt a bad hand and each deals with it differently. All in their own special shade of darkness. The heroes in the Legion are trying to overcome that darkness but they struggle with the choices they made that got them Claimed in the first place. It also played a part in the Legion itself. When someone is Claimed, the antigen in their blood chooses their designation in the Legion that they will have for the rest of their life based on their personality. Who they truly are. So, they have to face and embrace this part of themselves or suffer the consequences.

NTK: This is an interesting view of good and evil. Less black and white. You’re dealing with shades of gray. Which brings me to the Paranormal Romance aspect. What makes your romance unique?

MH: It’s a blending of genres. Think paranormal romance meets Game of Thrones, in modern day Chicago with horror and suspense. Each book in the series is focused on two couples—a main and sub couple—whose storylines intertwine and influence the others. The world and plot of the Legion also impact the couples. It looks at struggles and hope in relationships, from couples to families, friends, and roles in society, as well as the society itself.

Scythe: Legions of the Claimed by [Hollow, Mercy]NTK: You’ve spoken of the choices which shape your characters. How much control do you have over them? Do you give your creations free will?

MH: Sometimes, I fool myself into thinking I have control over them. Then, they go and do something that ticks me off or they make a choice I want to yell at them for making. Or worse, I see their end coming for them and I can’t stop it. I spend a good amount of gray matter energy brainstorming and plotting, and finding character arcs but, at the end of the day, there are always surprises and places they take me. And, they always yell at me when I try to take them somewhere they wouldn’t go.

NTK: Do you enjoy psychological horror? What horror do you like to read?

MH: I do! From the classics like Frankenstein, Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray, to Misery, The Shining, The Handmaid’s Tale, Red Dragon, and Silence of the Lambs. I love reading about the fear of anticipation, the lengths people will go to or be pushed to, the tricks the mind plays, and how people adapt to or resist the extraordinary.

NTK: What horror films and TV shows do you enjoy?

MH: I liked the movies of the books I mentioned previously. I’m an Alfred Hitchcock fan. I liked the different take on characters in Penny Dreadful, Grimm, Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale series, The Leftovers, Black Mirror, Crazyhead. There are so many great ones. I love quirky and humorous horror as well.

NTK: Those are great shows and films. Which Hitchcock film is your favorite?

MH: Psycho, of course. But, I also really like The Birds, Rear Window, Rope, Vertigo, Strangers on a Train, To Catch a Thief. He had a great way with anticipation, getting the mind to react to things it didn’t see or fear things it projected it would see.

NTK: Do you think werewolves, vampires, and other monsters are psychological representations of the human psyche?

MH: I think we all have a little monster in us that could be drawn out in the right or wrong situation. Monsters represent our desires and fears. Our darkest moments. Our possibilities. They can be vulnerable and raw and passionate in ways people often don’t let themselves be.

NTK: Do you have a favorite monster?

MH: I have a soft spot for Frankenstein. He’s innocent yet brutal, lost but discovered. He’s weakness and strength. His life is complex, but he longs for the most basic human need—belonging and companionship.

NTK: As you know, season 13 of HorrorAddicts is CURSED! Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

MH: Cursing people to get exactly what they want and it bringing them great misfortune and ruin. I do like psychological torture.

NTK: Mercy, what does the future hold for you? What books or stories do we have to look forward to?

MH: Grim, the next book in the Legions of the Claimed series, comes out next month. I’m currently working on book three, entitled—Vegan. I’m also working on several young adult fantasy novels. I’m a freelance editor specializing in fantasy, paranormal, horror, sci-fi, and run workshops at conferences. I love getting to work with other writers and assisting them in getting their stories out for people to enjoy.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Mercy. It’s been a pleasure.

MH: Thank you and HorrorAddicts.net for having me on and giving me the good fortune of being Cursed.

Addicts, you can find Mercy Hollow here on Facebook and Twitter.

Terror Trax: Hormones

by Russell Holbrook

Hormones

During my thus far short tenure covering the Terror Trax column for the HorrorAddicts.net website I have been able to speak with a variety of wonderful and interesting purveyors of aural gloom. However, I never expected to find myself in a community college in the Czech Republic, attending a class entitled: Applications of Dark Mathematics in Modern Heavy Music. But there I was, sitting in on class with seventeen year-old wunderkind Karel, the brain behind horror-fueled atmospheric metal machine Hormones, who is attending the evening class in order to further expand his dark horizons. Following the mind-bending lecture, Karel and I retired to his favorite fog bank where this interview was conducted. I meant to invite the mysterious teen for some post-interview coffee but as I packed my notebook, pen, and tape recorder into my bag, a billow of fog enveloped young Karel and, when it cleared, he had vanished. I was never able to locate him again. All I have are the brief words which follow.

Who is Hormones and what do we need to know about them?

Hormones is a one-man-band powered by Karel Fošumpaur from the Czech Republic which is based on creepy and tough sounding mathematical instrumental music. Main crazy rhythms are supported by experimental ambient melodies. Some may call it Djent or Thall. But the main characteristic is the tone of my guitars and bass, which still evolves.

Can you please tell our readers how you use math and algorithms to create your music? 

The interesting part about math music is figuring out the algorithm and possibly enjoying it. So it would be a spoiler. 4/3. That’s all I can say.      🙂

What if math could be used to create evil spells?

Then I would become cursed evil mathematician 🙂

What inspires your music?

There are similar bands which have influenced me, but the main inspiration source is unnamed strange emotions which flow through me sometimes… And also landscapes, sci-fi topics.

Your debut album creates a dense atmosphere that at certain points invokes images of being alone at night on a foggy, desolate city street with a knife-wielding maniac slowly stalking through the background. Was your album influenced by horror movies or horror fiction? 

I love horror. The trilogy of mathematical horror movies Cube belongs to my favorites. And there could be a little connection with my music…  🙂

Who are some bands or artists who inspire you? 

Bands like Vildhjarta, Nemertines, Meshuggah, Harkla or guys like Mick Gordon, Robert Fripp.

What is your home city? Is there a heavy or experimental music scene there? If so, what is the scene like? 

There’s no scene of this kind of music at all in the whole country. Only a few would enjoy this stuff here…

In your opinion, what elements make for truly creepy music? 

In my opinion, the main elements are low-tuned guitars, dirty bass, dissonant awful tones, reverb-drenched ambient melodies and tough drums. I can’t play guitar well, so I play it at least simply and creepy.   🙂

The use of heavy, distorted bass guitar as the lead instrument is not a common choice. What led you to use the bass for this purpose?

I’m generally a bass player. The sound of my bass is very important to me. I like it dirty and heavy – it’s suitable for my purpose. It has to sound like an angry bull or like the birth of a black hole, not like some soft sub-bass…

What is the best type of curse? 

Being blind among the most beautiful women in the world…

What can we expect from Hormones in the future? 

New guitar tones and some background samples as an ambient part of my music. I aim now more for singles than an album. New stuff will be soon.   🙂

Please check out the ultra-heavy self-titled album from the mighty Hormones!

 

Chilling Chat Writing to an Invisible Drummer: An Interview with Josh Malerman

 Josh Malerman is an American author and also one of two singer/songwriters for the rock band, The High Strung. Their song, “The Luck You Got,” is the theme song for the Showtime television program, Shameless.

Malerman authored the books, Bird Box, Black Mad Wheel, and Unbury Carol. He has been published in Cemetery Dance, Scary Out There, Chiral Mad, Lost Signals, Shadows over Main Street, and Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories. He resides in Michigan with his fiancée, Allison Laakko.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Josh.

JM: And, thank you for having me. This is exciting.

NTK: Your book, Bird Box, is set to become a Netflix film starring Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich. How did Bird Box come about?

JM: The book started out as any other to me … that’s not to say that I’m writing a string of ideas that arranged on an assembly line, without emotion, but all I began with was a woman, blindfolded, two children in tow, rowing down a river. I just liked the image and started writing their story. This quickly led to … ”What are they fleeing? What can’t they see?” From there, I started thinking of old fears, things that scared me a lot growing up. One of those things was the idea of infinity and how man isn’t capable of comprehending it.

So, I thought, what if infinity were personified in a semi-abstract way. What if the concept arrived on Main Street?

From there the book exploded in my hands. A mother attempting to navigate a river without being able to open her eyes. The rough draft was written in some 26 days. And, while the rewrites took forever, I’ll forever cherish those 26 days and sometimes, I feel like I’m still living them now.

NTK: Does your writing often begin with a single image?

JM: Some of the stories do. A single image or a title can be enough to say, “Hey, go sit down and give this one a shot.” Because, if you’re writing from a “free” place, if your mind is wide open, then you’re probably going to see that small image or idea bloom in double time. I try to stay open to tangents at all times. I try not to stick so tight to the original idea. So, with this in mind, yeah, sometimes a single image can jumpstart the whole shebang.

NTK: You’re also a singer/songwriter for the rock band, The High Strung. How does this background affect your writing?

JM: Every time I write, I do so with an invisible drummer in the room. I’m at the desk, hammering away, always playing to the beat of this unseen musician just out of sight. Like the Wendigo, if the Wendigo played drums. I realize how bonkers this sounds but I really can’t seem to get away from him and I wouldn’t want to. Whether I have a record playing in the room, or a soundtrack going on YouTube or the radio … the drummer is the one giving me the beat for every story. And, I can’t help but think that, since I play a lot of rhythm guitar in the band, there’s gotta be a link there between the band and the books.

NTK: So, would you consider the drummer a muse?

JM: Hmm. I haven’t thought about it like that. But, I love the question. Not a muse. More like … we’re both turned on by the same muse. In fact, the drummer might catch sight of said muse first, start playing, then I fall in, typing over what he plays.

NTK: You’ve written many unpublished books while touring. Do your experiences make it into your novels?

JM: I was just talking to my bandmate, Mark, about this today. I’m sure some of the people we’ve met and the places we’ve been have made it into the books. But, it’s not usually intentional. You know, people say, “Write what you know,” but there’s no way not to do that. So, what I think people really mean to say is, “write the feelings you know.” And a lot of that comes from shared experiences, right? Things you’ve done with your best friends, your lovers, the people you’ve encountered in life. I think it would take you and me going through a book scene by scene for me to say, “Ah, yes! This scene here was from this time in Iowa and this scene here was from that night in Mississippi!”

NTK: Let’s go back to the Bird Box film. How did this come to pass? How were you approached?

JM: So, my manager sold the film rights before the book was published. It had already been picked up by ECCO/Harper Collins but hadn’t even been rewritten with them yet. So, there are parts that made it into the movie script that used to be in the book but aren’t anymore. That’ll be interesting for me to see in a theater. Universal Studios optioned the rights in 2013. Netflix bought it from them in 2017.

NTK: Were you consulted when the film was written?

JM: No. I had no part in the writing of the script. I was on the phone with the prospective screenwriters. Conference calls in which each screenwriter told me what they had in mind, with Universal on the phone to listen to us talk about it. But, that was just so Universal could gauge the individual visions. The script was written by Eric Heisserer. He wrote Arrival and others. Awesome guy. And, I knew very well what I was getting into. Talk about an unknown author—my first book wasn’t even out yet.

NTK: Stephen King is well known for his dislike of Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining and the casting of the film. Are you happy with the casting? Do you think Sandra Bullock will make a good Malorie?

JM: I’ll tell you the same thing I told her. If I had written the script, directed the movie, and starred in it myself, it still wouldn’t be the book. So, I’m glad it’s in her hands and not mine. I’m thrilled she’s playing Malorie. She’s a magnificent actress, and I can’t wait to see her in a horror movie. After watching her film a scene in person, I said to her, “That was intense, huh.” And she said, “The whole story is intense!” I’m excited about it all. The cast, the director, the cinematographer—all of it.

NTK: You were on set when the movie was filmed?

JM: My fiancé, Allison, and I flew to California in January. We went on set on the Universal lot. Saw a scene filmed outside, another filmed on a soundstage. It was incredible. I never felt like I didn’t belong, but I also never felt like “big man on campus.” It was all unforeseeably natural. If it’s true that a director dictates the mood of a set, then Susanne Bier is a warm, intelligent, hard-working, welcoming director. We loved every second of it.

NTK: Susanne Bier is a Golden Globe, Emmy, and Academy Award-winning director. It must’ve felt good knowing you’d entrusted your work to her.

JM: 100%. And, you know, who knows how it will turn out, right? Just like a book … you sit down with an idea, a vision, and let’s hope it soars, right? But, I’m optimistic. Everyone I met is so good at what they do and I know the story came from as pure a place as I’ve ever visited.

NTK: Are you excited about Netflix providing the distribution? Or would you rather the film appear in the theater?

JM: I’m told there’s going to be a theatrical release as well. I don’t know exactly what that means, how many cities, how long, etc. But, in any case, I’m happy either way.

NTK: When will the film be released?

JM: I hear it’ll be around December 21. I don’t know when the premiere is going to be yet, but Allison and I are hoping to bring both our moms. Which is a pretty funny image. Allison, me, our moms, all drinking on a plane to Los Angeles.

NTK: You had a book released in April. Could you tell us a little about Unbury Carol?

JM: Unbury Carol is the story of an impending premature burial and the balance of characters who both want this to happen and don’t. Carol Evers “dies” a couple times a year, when she slips into deep coma states. Because it’s a western of sorts, the instruments the doctors use aren’t sophisticated enough to detect her beating heart when she’s inside, what she calls, “Howltown.” The problem is … what if everyone thinks she’s dead? And then … what if she’s buried alive because of it? Well, there’s one fella who hears about her funeral but knows she isn’t dead. So, he travels north on the Trail in an attempt to bust up this unnatural burial. But, make no mistake! There is no Prince Charming in this book. And, Carol’s gonna have to get the hell out of Howltown on her own.

NTK: Are you a fan of westerns and horror?

JM: Yeah, for sure. I’d like to see more of them. It’s a great setting for a horror story because, one, it’s pre-technology, which leaves a lot of shadows to play with and, two, the “outlaw” is always so “tough” and it’s refreshing as hell to find him or her face to face with something scarier yet.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror author or movie? What inspired you to write horror?

JM: I wouldn’t say I have a favorite. Of the last 156 books I’ve read, I adored 153 of them. Would give them all five stars. For whatever reason, I’m a little more discerning with movies, but really I’ve got a wide scope of what I’m into. I just love the genre in general. To me, horror admits that it’s fiction. And, for that, I believe it.

NTK: Do you have any advice for the writers out there whose books may be adapted to film? Or, any advice for writers in general?

JM: Well, I’m still early into the “adaptation” scenario. It’s hard for me to impart “advice” other than to say something my girl, Allison, taught me: every time you wanna use the word “nervous,” use “excited” instead. It’s changed my life. As far as advice for writers? Get rid of the words “good” and “bad.” Write a “bad” book for crying out loud. Don’t let silly blanket words stop you from writing a novel. How awful. Get that first draft done. Because what you would rather have? Three hundred pages that need to be fixed? Or, no pages at all?

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

JM: Well, the moment belongs to Unbury Carol. And I’m going to let her have it. But, come Halloween, I have a limited edition novel coming out on Cemetery Dance. It’s called, On This, the Day of the Pig. And, my second book with Del Rey comes out next April. I’m writing scripts for a horror theater production to be performed here in Michigan. And, The High Strung have a new album, to boot.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Josh.

JM: Ah, THANK YOU. I’m excited for this.

This interview was  published in the June 2018 edition of the Horror Writers Association Newsletter and is reprinted with Editor Kathy Ptacek’s permission.

Chilling Chat with a Dark Lady: An Interview with Nancy Holder

Nancy Holder is a New York Times best-selling author. She has written over 100 short stories and over 80 novels, including tie-in books for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Smallville. She’s written YA novels with her writing partner Debbie Viguiè, and has written comic books, graphic novels, and pulp fiction for Moonstone Books. Currently, she works for Kymera Press and lives in San Diego.

Nancy is a charming and gracious lady. Recently, she chatted with me about horror, her new project, and Kymera Press.

NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Nancy. I appreciate it.

NH: Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you for interviewing me.

NTK: Let’s talk about Kymera Press. How did you get involved with them?

NH: Some years ago (at least ten!) I was at a book signing at Dark Delicacies in Los Angeles, and I met a woman named Debbie Lynn Smith there. She had been a writer on the TV show, Touched by an Angel, and had decided to get her MFA in creative writing. (She was going to Stonecoast, the program at the University of Southern Maine. They were looking for an instructor who could teach horror, and I was interviewed and offered the position. Debbie was actually one of my students there.)

When she was working in Hollywood, Debbie ate tons and tons of microwave popcorn, and she developed a disease called Popcorn Lung. It is a horrible, hideous disease, and she sued Orville Redenbacher and WON. (She had a double lung transplant about seven months ago and is doing great.)

With her settlement, she decided to do something positive. So, she founded Kymera Press, which is an all-woman comic book company. All the writers and art team members are female. Her husband is the only full-time male staff member. She hired me to be one of her writers.

Debbie was interested in adapting the work of women Victorian horror writers, and for a while, we were going to do a big graphic novel of Frankenstein to celebrate the 200th anniversary of publication. But, there are a LOT of graphic novels about Frankenstein out there, and it was a huge, ambitious project. So, we returned to “Victorian” horror. We cover what is called “the long nineteenth century” in literature, covering from 1770-1910-ish. I suggested the series title, Mary Shelley Presents.

NTK: What authors do you plan to cover in these graphic novels?

NH: Right now they’re comic books, but they will be collected into graphic novel form. Debbie just returned from C2E2, which is a popular culture convention in Chicago, and librarians are eagerly waiting for us to collect them into hardback so they can order them.

Our first issue was “The Old Nurse’s Story” by Elizabeth Gaskell. Right now, the team is working on, “Man-size in Marble” by Edith Nesbit. I just turned in the revision of “The Case of Sir Alistir Moeran” by Margaret Strickland. BUT … the coolest part is that I am actively searching for stories by women who have been marginalized or never/rarely anthologized. For example, I’ve just had a Russian story translated. It’s by a woman who is very famous in Russia but very little of her work has been published. She is in the fourth issue. And, I’m looking forward to an anthology of work by Victorian women who lived in the British colonies.

NTK: Are you adapting all of the stories for the comic books?

NH: Yes, I’m adapting all the stories, and once the anthology of the colonial work comes out, I’ll adapt some stories by those women.

NTK: How often will the comics be released? Monthly? Bi-monthly? Quarterly?

NH: Right now, quarterly. Kymera has five series in production. They are: Dragons by the Yard, Ivory Ghosts, Pet Noir, Gates of Midnight, and Mary Shelley Presents.

NTK: You’ve written tie-in novels for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Teen Wolf, and many others. How did this background prepare you for adapting the stories to comic book form?

NH: Well, I’ve written a lot of comics and graphic novels for Moonstone Books, so I’m familiar with the form. I’ve also taught classes in writing for comics and graphic novels and edited them as well. So, I have a background there. But, to answer your question, what I’ve learned from writing so much tie-in fiction (and nonfiction) is that it’s important to figure out what it is about that property that fans love and focus on that. Or, to figure out what the heart of the story is, and “push” that.

For example, Buffy was strong and passionate. And, like Buffy, Scott McCall was trying to learn to lead—in his case, a pack of werewolves. She was the Chosen One; he was the Bitten One.

In the case of our comics, I look for the theme of the story. The heart of darkness, as it were.

In the first one, “The Old Nurse’s Story,” the theme is regret/remorse/redemption.

NTK: Getting back to Moonstone, you wrote many stories centered around Sherlock Holmes. How did that help you in adapting Victorian stories?

NH: I love Sherlock Holmes. I am a devoted Sherlockian. I belong to a Sherlock Holmes scion and am planning to join a couple of other ones.

I read a lot of what is called, “Neo-Gothic” literature, such as the novels of John Harwood.

A student from Stonecoast and I are planning to start a blog about the long nineteenth century after she graduates.

The story I just adapted takes place in 1916. I novelized the new Wonder Woman film which took place around then, so I’ve recently “seen” my time period. And, I’m watching Peaky Blinders right now, too.

Also, we provide information about the writer of the original story (and we include the text of the original story in the comic), and I try to read a biography of the author.

NTK: What Sherlock Holmes Scion do you belong to?

NH: I belong to the Sound of the Baskervilles. We just celebrated our 38th year as a scion (I only joined recently). We are Seattle/Tacoma based.

NTK: Do you research when you write? Is that how you discovered the women writers?

NH: I do a lot of research, and it was easy to find a few writers to start with. There are anthologies of Victorian women writers of the supernatural and Debbie recommended Margaret Strickland. She has an amazing eye for what will translate to comic book form. I suggested obtaining translations, and so this first one, the Russian one, is very exciting to us both.

Grady Hendrix, who just won a nonfiction Bram Stoker Award® for Paperbacks from Hell, also pointed me to another anthology that is going to be very helpful.

NTK: Are comic books difficult to write?

NH: To me, writing comics is very difficult, but it’s really, really fun. It’s a lot like writing film scripts/screenplays, except that it’s pretty much on me to explain and show everything, whereas a film script is like a blueprint. I think of my script as a letter to the art team.

You have to figure out how to show things very, very quickly and keep the reader interested. And, you have to keep to a fairly stringent number of pages and panels, and to think visually.

NTK: How many artists work with you when you write a comic?

NH: This is the art team: Artist: Amelia Woo, Letterer: Saida Temofonte, Colorist: Sandra Molina, Art Direction: Kata Kane, and covers by Amelia Woo. In the first comic, we had Color Separations by Alejandro Garcia, who was assisting Sandra. The Editor is D. Lynn Smith, and Paul Daughetee does our Graphic Design.

NTK: Did you read comics when you were younger? If so, what were your favorites?

NH: I read tons of comics when I was younger. I subscribed to most of the DC lines. Superman, Lois Lane, Aquaman, also Katy Keene. And, scary comics that scared me so much I turned all the covers over at night before I went to bed.

NTK: Did you read House of Mystery and the other DC Haunted House comics?

NH: I don’t remember the horror series titles. But, they scared the tar out of me.

NTK: What made you decide on Mary Shelley as the narrator of these comics?

NH: Well at Kymera, Debbie and I had thought about that big graphic novel of Frankenstein, and scratched that, but by then I had read a ton of stuff about Mary Shelley—a number of biographies, other work of hers, etc. So, I thought about using her as a sort of “Crypt Keeper” to introduce the stories. Each story opens with her and the Creature discussing how his story has made her immortal, but other women writers have not been so fortunate. So, Mary Shelley breathes new life into stories by women that are “long buried” or “gathering dust.” Also, we try to add a bit of detail about Mary Shelley herself.

I just went to Italy for two months and went to many of the places she visited in Rome and Florence, including Percy Bysshe Shelley’s grave and the headstone honoring their son, William. I also went to Cadenabbia on Lake Como, where she visited with her son and his college buddies. And, I went to Viareggio, near where Percy drowned.

NTK: What a fantastic idea using her as the “Crypt Keeper.” Are comics the source of your inspiration when it comes to horror? Is that how you got into the genre?

NH: That’s a great question. Like a lot of horror writers, I was always drawn to horror. Weirdly, I just remembered that the first horror movie I ever saw was James Whale’s Frankenstein, which I watched with my mom. I loved creepy stuff even though it scared me so badly I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I watched The Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Kolchak: The Nightstalker—stuff like that. I think that’s how I got hooked.

NTK: You’ve come full circle.

NH: That’s true! I have come full circle! I never realized that.

NTK: Mary Shelley Presents debuted at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con. How was it received?

NH: It was a big hit at Comic-Con. I worked in the Kymera booth, and we sold lots of issues of all the series we had out. I also did a charity signing at the California Browncoats booth. (The Browncoats are fans of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, and I’m a Browncoat myself.) I usually sign for their charity drives if I’m at a con they’re at. I’ve signed at Comic-Con for them for years and years. So, I signed Mary Shelley Presents there, and we “sold out.”

I should also add that I did a Buffy Encyclopedia recently with my first editor, Lisa Clancy. (Lisa was the first to develop the Buffy publishing program, which was at Simon and Schuster at the time. She covered Angel, and I covered the Buffy show and all the comics—including Angel and Spike.) And, I covered the comic book canon. A TON of comics. Holy Moly.

NTK: What got you into writing the tie-ins? Was it the YA novels you wrote with Debbie Viguiè?

NH: No, I wrote tie-ins before I met Debbie. My first tie-in was a Highlander novel in 1997. Then, I started doing Buffy. I’ve also done Angel, Buffy/Angel crossovers, Wishbone, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Smallville, Saving Grace, Teen Wolf, Firefly, Kolchak, and Beauty and the Beast. I think that’s all of the TV shows. For films, I’ve novelized the new Ghostbusters movie, Crimson Peak, Hell Boy, and Wonder Woman. I’ve also written tie-ins for Zorro and Sherlock Holmes.

NTK: What else are you working on right now? What can we expect to see in the future?

NH: The new Firefly novel I wrote, Firefly: Big Damn Hero, will come out in October, and I’ll continue to work on Mary Shelley Presents. I have some short stories coming out, one of which is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. And, I’ll be working in the booth at Kymera Press at San Diego Comic-Con.

NTK: What advice would you give a writer who may be interested in pursuing a career in comic books or graphic novelization?

NH: Advice: read! (I’m surprised by the number of newer writers who don’t read.) And, try to attend comic book/popular culture conventions, even small ones if you can’t make it to the biggies. The “sequential art” world is pretty small so it’s possible to network. Also, there are a number of great “how to write comics” books out: Scott McCloud is one of the standards, and Dennis O’Neil.

And, if you’re interested in horror, JOIN HWA!!!

NTK: Great recommendations, Nancy! Thank you for chatting with me. Before we part, could you tell the readers where they can get a copy of Mary Shelley Presents?

NH: Thank you so much for having me! The easiest way to buy a copy is to go to the Kymera Press Website. There is a Wide Release Version  and a Limited Edition Version.

This is truly a labor of love for all of us at Kymera.

NTK: And, such vindication for a comic book company created by women.

NH: I love our art team. I’m so blessed.

This interview was  published in the May 2018 edition of the Horror Writers Association Newsletter and is reprinted with Editor Kathy Ptacek’s permission.