Chilling Chat: 10 Quick Questions with Riley Pierce


Riley J. Pierce lives in Wisconsin with her family, and her growing collection of books. Always fascinated by horror and science fiction, she finds inspiration for the macabre DSCN4277everywhere. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge-watching the latest horror film alone in the dark.

1) How old were you when you first discovered horror?

In second grade, in our school library, we were each assigned a section to keep clean and organized. I was assigned the horror section. I spent hours in that section reading all about the paranormal, haunted civil war battlefields around me, and spooky folklore.

2) Who is your favorite author? Who has influenced you?

I’ve always loved to read, so I truly believe that my love of writing came from discovering the writing of Alvin Schwartz.

3) What inspired you to write your piece?

I love nautical folklore. I loved that sirens and mermaids were beautifully lethal in some legends, and I wanted to take that, but look at it a bit differently.

4) How much control do you exert over your characters? Do they have free will?

Yes and no. I’m a meticulous planner in my everyday life, so when it comes to a character, I tend to let them have free will only when it suits their chosen path. I would call it more of an implied free will.

5) What did you learn from participating in the contest?

Being challenged to write in so many different formats with various word limits and themes taught me to step out of the puzzlebox (hi, Hellraiser fans) a little bit more than I would have on my own.

6) Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

I would most definitely do it again. I believe next time around I would allow myself the time and space to brainstorm more before choosing the first or second idea.

7) What is your favorite horror novel?

Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

                                                                      8) Favorite horror movie?

NGHWEdPSmThis is a tough one! I would probably say Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but that’s on a masterpiece classic level. For my favorite villain, Nightmare on Elm Street. For something that’s a fun watch, I’d choose Hereditary, Drag Me to Hell, or Hellraiser.

9) Favorite horror television show?

Masters of Horror.

10) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

I’m still working on a few projects, but to share my love of writing with others, I’ve been leading workshops at my local library on creative writing, novel outlining, and blogging.

#NGHW News: Interview with Contestant: Riley J Pierce

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

What do you love about horror?

I think my favorite part of horror is the feeling of fear. I love that fear is humanity’s common denominator. It is the one thing that connects us all. It can make the most rational person appear insane, and make the sanest person appear psychotic. Horror makes you question the simplest things like a phone ringing, or a nightmare, long after the movie is over. Horror is my lifelong companion and one of my greatest loves.

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

When I was in elementary school, we each had to be in charge of a section in the library. It was just one shelf, but it had to be organized and dusted daily. I chose the horror section and read every book. Alvin Schwartz was a huge inspiration to me. I love his scary stories! I still own those books and read them quite often. I’ve been addicted to horror for almost my entire life and enjoy finding new genres and ideas.

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?

I tend to be drawn to the storytelling side of horror. I am very influenced by the work of Guillermo Del Toro, and admire the depth and layers of each of his characters. When I write, I want to tell a well-rounded story that has a richness to it. As far as genre, I lean towards the paranormal and the occult. I’m a skeptic, so when I write this genre, I research a lot of firsthand accounts of paranormal witnesses. I like that genre because it’s something that a lot of people say they’ve experienced, so the story would seem more real. My goal would be to scare someone long after they’d finished my book.

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

I actually listen to ambient noise from the setting of the story I’m writing. I’ve listened to the beach, thunderstorms, and even sound effects. It really helps me transport myself to the story so that when I’m writing I can help keep myself focused.

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

I do! I’ve been going to comic and horror conventions since 2002 and I also make my own cosplays. I really like to create things, and it works wonders on writer’s block. Lately I’ve been working on collecting supplies for my next one – Eva Ernst, aka The Grand High Witch. I also write a blog where I interview a lot of upcoming artists, post tutorials, and write about various topics I find interesting. My free time outside of work is spent between being creative, binge-watching movies with my husband, and playing with our pets. We currently have a cat, two dogs, and four mice.

What is your favorite part about writing? Writing is the only way to show someone else what you see in your mind. It’s incredible to think that just by using words, you could share your imagination with the world. That is so amazing to me! There are so many times that I read something and am just in awe of the author that created it. I hope that with what I write, I can make someone else feel that way too.

Writing is the only way to show someone else what you see in your mind. It’s incredible to think that just by using words, you could share your imagination with the world. That is so amazing to me! There are so many times that I read something and am just in awe of the author that created it. I hope that with what I write, I can make someone else feel that way too.

What is your favorite word?

I really like the word “unearthly”. I usually see it to describe someone, or something, so beautiful it’s almost not even human, or from this world. When I hear this word, I instantly imagine a siren, or some other mythical being.

What is your least favorite word?

I despise the words “reboot” and “remake”. Those words have been the kiss of death to a lot of the movies I’ve loved. I’m a firm believer that there will never be a shortage of ideas, so when a reboot, or remake, comes out, I get the feeling of disappointment that the budget wasn’t spent on a new, original idea.

What turns you on in a book?

I absolutely love twists and endings that I can’t predict. I’ve seen and read so much horror that I tend to correctly guess the ending long before it’s over – ask the theater of people that are probably still upset that I spoiled “The Sixth Sense” for. It’s so refreshing when I think I have everything figured out and suddenly it changes course and catches me off guard. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like it to, but when it’s done well, it’s fantastic.

Why should people be on team Riley?

I want people to read what I write and wonder how I sleep at night with all of those monsters in my head. I may be only 5ft tall, but my writing goals are massive! I’m well versed in everything horror from the classics to modern thrillers, and I plan on bringing the best to this contest!


Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on!