#NGHW Winner of the Self-Interview Challenge Naching T. Kassa

Winner Naching T. Kassa!

DIALOGUE WITH THE DARKER HALF
by Naching T. Kassa

Naching T. Kassa describes herself as a wife, mother, and horror writer. She resides in Valley, WA with her family and their dog, Dallas. Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a contributor to The Demonic Visions book series. Recently, one of her poems was accepted into the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume 4.

But, what do we really know about this dark lady? Who is she and what makes her so darn scary? We asked Nani K, the person who knows her best, to shed a little light on the shadow.

Nani K: Good morning, Naching. Thank you for sitting down with me.

Naching: My pleasure.

Nani K: First off, I have to say this. You don’t look like a horror writer. You’re always smiling and you seem so sweet. Where do you get these ideas?

Naching: (laughs) You’d be surprised how many times I get this question. Usually, my ideas just come to me.

Nani K: Out of the blue?

Naching: In a manner of speaking, yes. Imagine everyone has a door in their mind which separates their conscious from their unconscious. Most people keep the door closed. They don’t want to see the things which lurk on the other side. Horror writers want to see those things, want to explore them. We love that direct line to the dark side.

Nani K: Your ideas come from the unconscious mind?

Naching: Yes, with certain exceptions. There are times when I reach outside the door. Reach for things beyond myself.

Nani K: What do you mean?

Naching: Well, take “The Laughing Man,” for instance.

Nani K: Your 300-word story in the Second Challenge of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest?

Naching: Exactly. In the story, Laughing Man has a very distinctive scent. He smells of almonds. Looking at this part during the editing process I thought, “This is stupid. How is it scary? He’s rotting and leprous. He wouldn’t smell nice.” So, I went online and I looked up the smell of gangrene. That was too gross. I didn’t want my character to puke when the monster entered. He’s supposed to lie still. I decided to look up the smell of infections instead. Now, I had never researched infections before, never seen this site. But, what I found there creeped me out. There was an infection which smelled like almonds. Needless to say, it stayed in the story.

Nani K: Is this what makes a great horror writer? Reaching beyond yourself?

Naching: It can. But, I think great horror writers have a different ability. I think they can touch the darkness which resides in us all. The great writers force us to open our doors and let our monsters out. If only for a little while.

Nani K: I can see that. No one would want the door open all the time.

Naching: As a reader or watcher of horror I wouldn’t want mine open that long. However, a writer is different. Judging by the way Stephen King writes, I’m pretty sure his door is always open.

Nani K: Speaking of King, is he your favorite horror writer?

Naching: Well…I like him very much.

Nani K: You have another favorite?

Naching: I had a dream a while back where Stephen King and Dean Koontz fought for my affection.

Nani K: Oh—

Naching: (laughs) Not that kind of affection. And, it wasn’t some duel with swords. Though, that would’ve been cool. No, King said I was his greatest fan and Koontz said I belonged to him. I met with King in my living room and then I met Koontz in the kitchen.

Nani K: Who won?

Naching: Koontz. I told him he was my favorite. He was ecstatic. (laughs) It was an awesome dream.

Nani K: Do you think Koontz’s door is open all the time?

Naching:  I’m not sure. It’d be frightening if it was.

Nani K: While we’re still on the subject of doors, let’s talk about opportunity knocking on yours. How did you get involved with the Demonic Visions series?

Naching: The editor, Chris Robertson, and I were in an erotic/horror anthology together. I befriended him on Facebook and he told me he was about to start a new series of anthologies. He invited me to write for the first one. There are six volumes now and I have stories in all of them.

Nani K: How many erotic/horror stories have you written?

Naching: I thought you’d pick up on that one. I’ve written two. One was about a demon. The other was vampire erotica. My stories are different from other writers. They tip toward the romantic side.

Nani K: Do you like writing romance?

Naching: I do. Though, I find some of the categories confusing. A few months ago, I received a rejection for a horror story with romantic elements. The editor said he couldn’t buy it because he considered the story a Paranormal Romance. Now, there were no shifters involved. There were no humans in love with supernatural beings. Makes me wonder what criteria he used to decide this.

Nani K: You’ve brought up a good point here. Let’s talk about rejection.

Naching: (groans) Oh, man.

Nani K: What advice would you give a first time writer regarding rejection?

Naching: Persevere. If you get rejected, fix the story and send it out again to another place. If it gets rejected ten times, take some classes and improve your skills. Don’t give up. Never give up.

Nani K: You’re passionate about this.

Naching: It’s not in my nature to give up my dreams. I’m not a just writer by profession. It’s who I am. Also, before both of my parents passed, I told them I’d be a writer. If I give up, it’s like lying to them. And, I’ll never do that.

Nani K: You’ve often credited your father with your introduction to horror. What did your mom think of your interest in it?

Naching: She supported me but I think it worried her. She wasn’t into horror. My dad, on the other hand, was a big fan. He showed me Universal Horror, Hammer films, Hitchcock, Roger Corman films, and all the big movies. We watched Joe Bob Briggs’s Monstervision on TNT. He also bought me horror novels. He bought me my first Dean Koontz. My husband bought most of the rest.

Nani K: You’ve called your husband “your biggest supporter.” How does he help you?

Naching: Dan is great. He’s the sole provider for our family, he watches the kids while I write, and he’s my first reader. He also likes to scare me. He loves to make me jump during horror films.

Nani K: Does he ever worry about your horror writing? Does he stay awake nights wondering whether you’ll come to bed with a knife?

Naching: So, that’s why all the knives disappeared! I wondered why we didn’t have any in the house. No, I’m just kidding. He doesn’t worry. He knows me too well.

Nani K: As a wife and mother, how do you find time to write?

Naching: I write when everyone’s asleep. It’s dark and quiet. Very conducive to horror. I often wind up spooking myself.

Nani K: Earlier, you spoke of skill improvement. What do you do to sharpen skills?

Naching: I take online courses and I read books on writing. There’s a great website called edX.org and it offers classes from distinguished universities. Most classes are free unless you’d like to earn a certificate. Then, you have to pay a fee. My favorite course was English Grammar and Style from Queensland University in Australia. It was terrific.

Nani K: What books do you recommend for the first time horror writer?

Naching: “On Writing” by Stephen King, that’s the horror writer’s bible. “Strunk and White’s Elements of Style” and “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Renni Browne and Dave King are also great books.

Nani K: What is the one thing a writer needs most?

Naching: Readers. We should take as many as we can get, no matter what the age group. For a long time, I wrote what I considered adult horror. The funny thing is, most of the readers who approached me and expressed their admiration for my writing were teenagers and young adults. If you think about it, this is our largest audience. And, if they discover us now, they’ll follow our work into adulthood. That’s why I want to be the female version of R.L. Stine. I want to encourage and inspire another generation of readers.

Nani K: Thank you, Naching.

Naching: Thank you, Nani K. It’s been fun.

To find out more about Naching, go to: http://frightenme.weebly.com


Listen to the contestants battle for points this season on HorrorAddicts.net

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#NGHW News: Interview with Contestant Adele Marie Park

Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

What do you love about horror?

Horror takes the normal and turns it into paranormal. It brings chaos and change to the characters. We can read or watch these characters go through hell, get our adrenaline rush through fear and be grateful it’s not us.

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?

The first horror movie I fell in love with was Boris Karloff as the monster in Frankenstein. The first horror story was “Rumplestiltskin”, he scared me silly. First horror book was The Witches and The Grinnygog by Dorothy Edwards. First show was “The Children of the Stones”, a BBC1 kids programme.

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?

I write character-driven fiction. My characters are thrown into terrifying situations and have their lives change in ways they would never have dreamed about. I don’t write happy, sickly, sweet endings. I write horror that bites chunks out of the characters and their lives.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

I find listening to music helps when writing. At the moment Southern Gothic music is my favourite. Bands like Legendary Sack Shakers.

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

I love to crochet eclectic dolls, which some people find terrifying.

What is your favorite part about writing?

The rush of the idea and the scramble to get it down on paper or typed.

What is your favorite word?

Coffee.

What is your least favorite word?

Decaffeinated.

What turns you on in a book?

Believable characters thrown into terrifying situations and snappy dialogue.

Why should people be on team Adele?

I write reality themed horror that readers can relate to. I’m a prolific writer and the wealth of ideas is endless. I scare people but leave them wanting more. I love discussing horror topics or characters and will engage in conversations around these themes.

#NGHW NEWS: INTERVIEW WITH CONTESTANT: Quentin Norris

Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

What do you love about horror?

Art and stories that dive into the stuff that makes us uncomfortable or scared can be a lot more than just shock, it’s a mirror reflecting the unpleasantries of humanity while also illuminating some of the beauty of it in ways you’d never imagine. That and there is something so primally fun about being scared by something that can’t actually hurt you.

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?

While growing up, I was scared of almost everything.  So for most of my childhood, I avoided most things related to horror. Even though at the same time, I was always obsessed with ghost stories and gothic folk tales. I always loved poems like Poe’s “The Raven”. Every now and then I’d work up enough courage to crack open a copy of Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark and then I wouldn’t be able to sleep with the lights out for a whole month. I think my horror fandom started in middle school. I saw Edward Scissorhands which was a gateway into discovering and obsessing over Universal Monster Movies, which became a gateway into the horror genre as a whole after that.

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?

Even when I’m not writing horror, my stories tend to fall into the urban fantasy or magical realism category, so I think most of my horror stories tend to be dark and macabre fantasy stories, typically in a modern setting.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

The music I listen to when writing usually has to perfectly reflect the mood and atmosphere of what I’m writing or it usually becomes a distraction. When writing horror I tend to gravitate more towards Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Tom Waits, or other theatrical artists with dark and strange narratives woven into their lyrics. Sometimes lyrics are distracting though and then I’ll put on a good creepy soundtrack. I’m particularly fond of Mica Levi’s masterful soundtrack for Under the Skin.

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

I’m a cinephile and I spend a lot of time dedicated to watching films.

What is your favorite part about writing?

Stephen King compared writing to discovering dinosaur bones, finding each bone separately and finding out how they all fit together in order to make something whole. I completely agree with that philosophy and it’s what I find so fun about crafting a story. There’s a rush to it like no other feeling.

What is your favorite word?

Oof. I don’t know if I have just one. There are too many good ones. I guess maybe “salubrious?” I read it in a Calvin & Hobbes comic strip when I was a kid and have always kind of been obsessed with it even though I hardly ever use it.

What is your least favorite word?

Capitalism.

What turns you on in a book?

Interesting, complicated characters wrapped up in an immersive world to get lost in.

Why should people be on team Quentin?

This team has narratives that are like if Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Hayao Miazaki, David Cronenberg, and Tim Burton all collectively made a story baby.

Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on HorrorAddicts.net!

#NGHW News: Interview with Contestant: Harry Husbands

Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

What do you love about horror?

I’ve always been fascinated with what frightens me, in any form that happens to take, real or supernatural. My love of horror is simply an extension of that fascination and I’m constantly seeking books, movies, TV shows, documentaries, anything that causes my hair to stand up on end. I’m just chasing that dragon like everyone else at Horroraddicts.net.

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?

It was a movie that I now find hilarious because it’s so terrible. An adaptation of The Worst Witch that features the always wonderful Tim Curry, who even does a cheesy musical number that I still remember the lyrics to. I was terrified of the two ‘bad’ witches as a four year old and religiously rented the VHS from our local library. I think that movie formed the basis for my love of horror.

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?

I try to write stories that are subtle in terror and creep into half-conscious thoughts while falling asleep. There’s always humor and often a touch of the bizarre but they’re mostly about people. It’s my aim to write characters so human that when awful things happen, you suffer alongside them.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

I can’t listen to anything with lyrics because I get too drawn in by them and it scrambles my thought process. I do occasionally put on something atmospheric and dark. Horror soundtracks, classical music compilations, something creepy to get me in the mood.

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

I adore music across all genres and spend a lot of time listening to it, as well as writing and recording songs. I play instruments to relax. The banjo has been highly therapeutic for me recently. I’m a guitar man at heart though and there’s little else that brings me peace like improvising over some twelve-bar blues.

What is your favorite part about writing?

There’s not much I don’t enjoy about the whole process. From spilling my guts onto the page initially to the editing process where I refine my words into something more coherent. That said, if I had to pick a favorite part it would definitely be the first draft because it’s just raw creativity and I get so excited with what I’m doing.

What is your favorite word?

Currently, gadzookery (thanks to Merriam-Webster for their Word of the Day feature), which refers to the overuse of archaic language.

What is your least favourite word?

I’m not a big fan of the word necessary.

What turns you on in a book?

In horror, I want to be scared out of my skin. Otherwise I like believable characters, gripping plots and a writer whose style is distinctive but doesn’t take themselves too seriously. The usual stuff.

Why should people be on team Harry?

I’m not sure. I’m barely on team Harry myself. If someone was to read what I have to offer though and deem me worth following that would be a dream come true in itself.

Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on HorrorAddicts.net!

#NGHW NEWS: INTERVIEW WITH CONTESTANT: Cat Voleur

Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

What do you love about horror?

I love nearly everything about horror, but I think a lot of what it comes down to is the characters. As a genre, it explores the best and worst of humanity. I believe the most interesting actions come from the most extreme situations – which is a lot of what horror offers.

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?

That one’s a little tricky because I was already so invested in the horror genre before I really understood what it was. I do remember what made me realize I’d been into horror, and that was the movie Cube. I got so obsessed with it the first time I watched it, and I knew that I wanted to see more awesome, gruesome, paranoia-inducing things like that. That’s when I was able to piece together that a lot of the books and movies I had grown up with that were just normal stories to me, were actually supposed to be that same kind of scary for kids in my age group.

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?

I try not to limit my stories in terms of length, content or subgenre – especially when working with horror fiction. Describing my horror stories as a whole can be really tricky because of that, but one thing that most of them have in common is that they’re disturbing explanations I’ve concocted for real world situations I’ve actually found myself in.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

I listen to music when I do just about anything. I’m partial to punk and alternative. I’ve found metal is great for days I’m having trouble focusing because I’m less inclined to drop what I’m doing and sing along. Lately I’ve been listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall a lot while writing horror, because it’s both very dark and very inspirational.

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

I am very into gaming – that eats up a lot of my free time. I play guitar (badly) and bass (even worse.) I also spend a lot of time learning how to communicate in fictional languages. I can write in Draconic, Elvish script, Circular Galifreyan and can speak in both Klingon and Dothraki.

What is your favorite part about writing?

My favorite part about writing is that it makes anything possible. When I have my pen on paper, my freedom knows no bounds. I can be anyone and do anything, and when I come back home I have something to show for it.

What is your favorite word?

I have a lot of favorite words in a wide variety of languages. I love words, I think that’s why I’m a writer. Off the top of my head, I’d probably pick “Cacophony” because it’s so beautiful in comparison to its meaning, and it also happens to be the title of one of my favorite songs.

What is your least favourite word?

“Voyeur” is my least favorite word. I associate it with anger and embarrassment because it’s the word that my autocorrect always changes my last name to. It is however, also the title of one of my other favorite songs, by the same band.

What turns you on in a book?

Complex characters. I can forgive a lot of things in a book if I believe in the characters, just as I can forgive characters for a lot of things if they’re well-written.

Why should people be on team Cat?

I would really like to say people should choose me because I promise I’ll do my best to scare them if they do, but the truth is I’ll be doing my best to scare everyone anyway. That is what I’m here for. I sincerely hope that if people are choosing to be on team Cat it’s because they like my work – but I’m competing with fourteen very talented writers and I don’t believe there’s a wrong team to be on.

Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on HorrorAddicts.net!

#NGHW News: Interview with Contestant: Feind Gottes

Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

What do you love about horror?

The main thing I love about horror is its diversity. Some of my favorite horror books and movies have a little of everything in them from romance to fantasy to the total gross out moment. Horror envelopes everything from Goosebumps to Friday the 13th to Evil Dead to Saw. Horror can be lighthearted and funny, show you fantastic new worlds or be gritty and realistic. That’s what is so great about horror!

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?

This one is a little difficult for me because I would like to say that when I picked up Stephen King’s The Stand to read when I was eleven that it lit the horror spark in me but my love of horror had already begun by that point. I had seen the classic “Universal Monster” movies at a fairly young age and while I enjoyed them I didn’t really find them “scary”. Then one night when I was perhaps eight or nine years old my mom let me stay up to watch the late night movie with her. My mom doesn’t like watching horror movies alone and that night was my introduction to the late great Tall Man, Angus Scrimm, in “Phantasm”! I was hooked!

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?

The scariest things to me are things that could actually happen even if farfetched so most of my stories deal with dark realism like maniacs, serial killers and such. However, I’ve written about demonic possession, monsters, and zombies too. Essentially, I’ll write any idea that comes to my head and won’t go away but I try to write as realistically as possible.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

Do I listen to music while I write!?! ABSOLUTELY! Honestly, I don’t think I could write without it. My writing and music are as inseparable as snow and cold. Nearly every story idea I have comes from music in some way but while I’m writing what I listen to almost exclusively is doom metal. It’s a little slower and powerful which gets me in the right head space. While I’m writing I mostly tune it out but the music isolates me in “storyland” blocking out the rest of the world. A few albums I always listen to while writing are Sole Creation by Kongh, Sorrow & Extinction by Pallbearer and Clearing The Path To Ascend by YOB. Also every story I write shares its title with whatever song inspired the idea, it’s my way of paying respect.

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

If you had asked me this a few months ago I would have said not really but due to a medical problem, I was having extreme difficulty writing anything (the problem has been corrected) for some time. Fortunately my creative side wouldn’t be suppressed and thanks to some chance and life changes I began doing some woodworking which led to adding artistic touches through woodburning and painting. Starting with just some gifts for family I recently refurbished an antique coffee table that was just a simple, plain object but now looks like anything but simple and plain. It also took me over 120 hours to complete!

*Pictures included if you want to use them.

What is your favourite part about writing?

For me the best part is bringing the story to life whether it takes place in some place familiar or in some place otherworldly. I get like a creative rush when I feel my words are portraying what I’m seeing in my head. I may fail to reproduce that in an eventual reader’s mind but the thought of connecting with another person in that way is a real rush. The only better feeling is sex.

What is your favourite word?

Wunderbar – pronounced the German way (w has a v sound)

What is your least favourite word?

sauerkraut – it tastes even worse than it sounds!

What turns you on in a book?

That’s a tough one. For me, I think it’s getting lost in the story. There are a lot of authors that have influenced me but absolutely no one gets me fully immersed in a different world like Clive Barker. Imajica is my favorite book ever but I got lost in Weaveworld, The Great and Secret Show, Galilee as well as many others. He is the absolute master to me.

Why should people be on team Feind?

I think I’m a decent person but I like my writing to speak for me. If you enjoy the tales I weave, if they scare the pants off you then I’ve done my job and I’d appreciate any support you can give. If you don’t like my tales of terror then there are 14 other great writers vying for this prize that deserve every bit as much of your support as I do. I won’t win this contest, if I am lucky enough to win then it is my writing that has truly won.

 

Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on HorrorAddicts.net!

#NGHW News: Interview with Contestant A.E. Kirk

Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

What do you love about horror?
I love the way that horror can be adaptive. It’s not like a love story where the two people fall in love at the end, or a fantasy story where the epic battle has been won. With horror there are all sorts of endings, happy, sad, angry, frustrating or leaving you hanging with your own imagination. It’s boundless. And anyone can be got to in horror, whether you think it does or not. There is always that niggling feeling in your brain where you have watched or read a horror film or book and you think, “That could happen” even when your logical brain is telling you one thing, you still have an essence of fright in side you. That’s what I love about horror. It lingers.

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?
Goosebumps, ChickenChicken hands down. RL Stein was my idol when I was younger. I went to Florida and headed to MGM studios and had my head slapped onto the book cover of ChickenChicken. He was amazing.

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?
I write about ghosts and demons, mostly. I have a book series that is about a guy who can hear and speak to the dead. However, how I write each book is like a documentary and a lot of people believe that my character is real and what he has gone through is real, which is why they are unnerved.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?
Yes, all the time. I love soundtracks to films when I write. Currently, I’m listening to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?
I’m sad to say that my hobbies are limited as I have a full-time job where it takes up about 80% of my time during the week, even the weekends. When I’m on my holidays, I love to bake, read Andy McDermott and play Kingdom Hearts on PS4.

What is your favorite part about writing?
I love the research involved in writing. A lot of people don’t tend to research, but I will literally visit the places where I want to write about. I love conducting my own phenomenology.

What is your favorite word?
Oubliette.

What is your least favorite word?
Splinch. Thank you JK Rowling!

What turns you on in a book?
Getting to the end and knowing you have read a book that’ll be with you for life. Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn… never, EVER forget them.

Why should people be on team AE Kirk?
I don’t disappoint with my writing. I’m fairly consistent and I love to torment people with cliff hangers, and wtf moments. I try and keep my readers guessing and like with George R.R. Martin, anyone is fair game. No one is safe from the most gruesome of demises.

Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on HorrorAddicts.net!