L. Marie Wood is an award-winning dark fiction author, screenwriter, and poet with novels in the psychological horror, mystery, and dark romance genres. She won the Golden Stake Award for her novel The Promise Keeper. She is a MICO Award nominated screenwriter and has won Best Horror, Best Action, Best Afrofuturism/Horror/Sci-Fi, and Best Short Screenplay awards in both national and international film festivals. Wood’s short fiction has been published in groundbreaking works, including the Bram Stoker Award Finalist anthology, Sycorax’s Daughters and Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire. Her academic writing has been published by Nightmare Magazine and the cross-curricular text, Conjuring Worlds: An Afrofuturist Textbook. She is the founder of the Speculative Fiction Academy, an English and Creative Writing professor, a horror scholar, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, a full member of the SFWA, and a frequent speaker in the genre convention space.
NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, L. Marie! Thank you for chatting with us today.
LMW: Happy to be here!
NTK: How did you discover the horror genre?
LMW: Interestingly enough, I was 5 years old! I don’t know how I found horror. I think it found me—I think I have always been attracted to the darker side of things, the side that is just a little bit off. And that’s not to say that I’ve always been attracted to blood and guts—that’s actually not what I write or read for the most part. But the tilt on the landscape—the thing that is just a little wrong even though it is surrounded by what is considered “normal”… that kind of thing has always been my cup of tea even at such a young age!
NTK: You’re a big fan of psychological horror. Is that what inspires your writing?
LMW: That’s what I write and always have. Life inspires my writing. I have always seen things at a slant. That’s not to say that I can’t see them the way that most people do, but if I turn my head just a little, the dark side is always right there. It is interesting for me to look at that side, to study how it works, how it hides itself in reality and sometimes stories come from that.
NTK: You also write screenplays. What is the difference between writing a novel or short story and writing a screenplay?
LMW: Night and day! Novels and short stories give you the room to add exposition and descriptive language. Screenplays are visual—if you can’t see what is supposed to happen, neither can anyone else, so all of those moments of contemplation have to be reworked.
NTK: How do you rework those moments?
LMW: Often it requires trimming, but there can be re-wording to make something passive-active. There is a small section where you can direct an actor to do something specific and there is creatively crafting the story to get the actor to express what you are looking for or get the director to shoot a scene a certain way without saying, “Do it this way!” Good writing is needed—just a different kind of good.
NTK: Recently, you started an online learning platform called Speculative Fiction Academy. What is this?
LMW: Yes!! SFA is my passion! it is an online academy dedicated to teaching people how to hone their craft. I like to call it the MFA program that didn’t exist when I was in school.
NTK: Is it just for writing and screenwriting?
LMW: We have classes that dive into speculative fiction whereas traditional programs focus on literary fiction. We have classes that talk about monsters and faes and the characters that one would encounter when worldbuilding. We talk podcasting, scriptwriting, worldbuilding, business, social media. We cover it all.
NTK: And who teaches these courses?
LMW: We have classes that talk about how to properly reflect mental health in fiction, and it is taught by a practicing psychiatrist. We have to handle medical problems properly and it is taught by a general practitioner. We have award winners, publishers, academics, authors from multiple genres, filmmakers, podcasters—you name it. Pros teaching what they know to people who want to know.
NTK: Wow! How do Horror Addicts sign up for this?
LMW: Visit Speculative Fiction Academy and choose how you’d like to learn. We have three tiers to choose from. You can choose from individual courses a la carte, monthly memberships, or annual memberships. A la carte courses (which all of them can be) are individually priced. The best value is to get an annual membership and get a month free.
NTK: Of all your work, which is your favorite?
LMW: So, this may sound like a silly answer, but it is true. My favorite work is the one I am working on now—it is always the one I am working on. Because I am so pumped about it. It is exciting to watch the characters come together, to see them grow. I love every minute of writing a novel—even the moments when I don’t know what the heck I am going to do next!
NTK: Do you have a favorite character you’ve written?
LMW: I don’t know that I have a favorite character—just like with the movie question, I really love so many of them.
Angie from The Promise Keeper is so amazing to me—what she endures and how she reacts to what is happening—she floors me.
Patrick from The Realm—I just dig him all the way through the series. He is committed and flawed and so very human—I love it.
James from Crescendo—he’s so tormented and life doesn’t let up for him. I love watching how he reacts to things.
I love each of the mains in The Tryst (Mark, Eric, Nicole). They are so different yet so connected. They are amazing to watch in action and I really enjoy writing them.
Shaun in The Black Hole, Sara Sue in Mars, the Band Man, and Sara Sue…Chris in Telecommuting—I love this dude for his realness.
Honestly, I love them all (Laughs.)
NTK: L. Marie, what does the future hold for you? What works and activities do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?
LMW: So much! Accursed, Book 3 of The Realm Trilogy will be coming out in October. My first mystery novel, Mars, the Band Man, and Sara Sue, will be out in November.
I have a really neat traditional (well, for the most part) project coming out with Falstaff in 2023. The first two books will come out in Feb.
Book 2 of the Affinity Series (the first of which is The Tryst that I mentioned a second ago) is coming out in February also—it is called Origins and wowza, I loved writing that one.
I have a few short stories and poems that are coming out in 2023—the ink on some of those contracts is still wet!
My first film will be out soooooonnnn!
NTK: Ooh! What is this film?
LMW: it’s a short film and harkens back to the slasher genre and I am pumped about it. It is called 271 Raeburn Avenue. I loved being on set for this. Oh my gosh, it was an amazing experience. On top of all of that, I will be speaking at a few conferences. Candyman and the Whole Damn Swarm and International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.
NTK: What was it like to be on the set and see your creation come about?
LMW: Being on set was so surreal! Fixing lines mid-taping was flipping awesome—that was a dream come true. Overseeing the makeup, and sitting in on production meetings—just so awesome.
I am so amazed at the creativity that everyone brought to the table and that they were saying my lines…lines I wrote!
NTK: Thank you for joining us today, L. Marie. By the way, congratulations on having your work archived in the University of Pittsburgh Library System.
LMW: Oh, thank you so much! I’m so excited about the archiving! It’s one of those things that you never think will happen for you. I am excited to be included—truly an honor.