What drew you to the horror genre?
I've always had a fascination with the macabre. Maybe it was something in my Spanish and Finnish heritages that veered my interests towards the unexplained, creepy, grisly, and metaphysical ideas. Fairy tales scared me, especially the more violent ones, though really, most of them are pretty violent. I enjoyed reading horror and science fiction, Alfred Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, Ripleys, Nancy Drew, Fangoria, National Lampoon, MAD, Stephen King when I was a teen, and I liked movies and tv shows too with a dark and sometimes humorous edge. I wanted to play in the arena of the genre that had entertained me so much in my childhood and so I did and do.
The thrill of being terrified excited me, maybe it was some kind of adrenaline rush. The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby both terrified me. Jaws. Hammer movies, the lush reds of velvets and blood and the pale globes of heaving bosoms. I think something that added to the mystique of horror that both drew me in and repelled me was the Sir Graves Ghastly show on Saturday afternoons at 2 out of Detroit if we could get the rabbit ears on the old black and white angled just so. I was freaked out for years because I was watching a fuzzy rendition of some movie about a crawling hand and the wind changed and I never saw the end. I never knew what happened to that crawling hand (that dived from upper shelves of closets) for about ten years til I saw that movie again. He showed all the monster movies, scary movies, science fiction double creature features. With horror, you never knew what was going to happen and I liked that.
What scares you?
My deepest fears are fears around my sons. Then there are quirky fears like tornados, birds, high places, bridges, driving over bridges, walking over bridges, seeing a ghost, hearing a ghost, sensing "something" evil.
Why do you think there are fewer women writing horror than men?
I'm not sure that there are fewer women actually writing horror than men. Perhaps less women are having work published as horror but I think it's pretty equal. A lot of paranormal romance/erotica can be slotted into the horror genre as easily as romance, depending on your definition. I wrote several "paranormal romance" for Ravenous Romance that are actually what I consider "horror lite" just as much as they are also paranormal romance and I'm not the only woman doing that. I bet if we all read more in all the genres, we'd find many more ladies to add to the list. Many women too spend a lot of their younger years raising families and working and don't have time to write and market aggressively until they are older.
Who are some women horror authors that you admire?
There are so many, but I'd say some of the ones who really inspired me to be a horror writer were Elizabeth Massie, Poppy Z. Brite, Kathe Koja, Nancy Collins, Mary Shelley, Sylvia Plath and weirdly, Emily Dickinson I found a bit scary too at times. There are too many current peers to name, but there are many fantastic lady writers out there.
What is your advice to aspiring women horror writers?
It's the same as for any writer. Read and write every day. Use social networking tools such as Facebook, and horror forums to learn from the old guard and see what's hot. Take writing courses. Read guidelines and follow them. Write and rewrite. Read outside the genre. I realized the other day that for the past few months, when I'm not reading books for work, I've been using Stumble-Upon. I've read some pretty interesting articles about some things I'd never think to research on my own. Go to conventions and be on panels.
What are your favourite horror novels?
Oh there are so many! The Shining, The Exorcist, Dead Zone, A Clockwork Orange, Carrie, The Books of Blood, Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Rosemary's Baby, Magic.
What is your favourite novel you’ve written and your favourite character you’ve created? Why?
I think like most authors, my favourite novel is the one that I'm working on.
That said, and I know you want a better answer than that, I think the one that was dearest to my heart and took me years to write as I honed my craft is Eternal Sunset. I liked it because I wanted my first published novel to be my "kitchen sink" novel to get all the tropes out of my system so I could write more mainstream, focused work. So I have everything in it; witch, vampire, werewolf, werepig, phoenix, mermaid and so on. It was great fun.
My favourite character is Vanessa from that book. A sort of embodiment of the sexy horror queens from movies and ballsey heroines like Scarlett O'Hara. She's feisty, curious, gorgeous, selfish, mean, cunning, compassionate, loving, horny, ruthless, and my goal was to have her learn how to be less selfish and mean and more compassionate through a series of books. Vanessa has the balls I sure don't have but wish I did. I used her as a selfish but wiser witch in her forties in Borrowed Flesh (Leisure). I'm finally going to be able to continue her story as I originally envisioned. Eternal Sunset was released in October 2010 as an e-book from Ghostwriter Publishers, ten years after its print release from Darktales. The next book in the series, Eternal Nightmare, will likely be out by fall 2011. I'm so excited to be finally continuing Vanessa's eternal adventures.
As an author who was published by Dorchester in the past, what do you think of their switch to trade paperbacks and e-books, eliminating mass-market paperbacks?
It's a sign of the times I guess. I personally am old-school and love to hold my paperbacks in bed, on the streetcar, sitting on a floor in a corner while waiting for my kid to do his class, and so on. However, technology is changing. The economy is changing. So they need to try something different to stay current with the trends. I think we all need to admit e-books are here to stay.
Do you own an e-reader? How do you think e-readers are changing the publishing industry? Are you planning on making your older novels available in e-book format?
I wish I had an e-reader. I'm not even sure what I would get, what works in Canada, what is a good size and so on but regardless, I can't afford one right now. I think everyone should have one including me. They are indeed the future and the future is now. I can see myself loving an e-reader as I do my i-pod. Especially since I take a lot of public transit now that I'm back in the city.
The four Leisure novels are going to be put out by Necon e-books. House of Pain is the first one out. I think by then all my novels will be in e-books.
With e-books, anyone can be a published author and that really adds a lot of competition for those who have zero reputation. Authors who have published a few books before the technology changed should be able to attract new followers. The cheaper price of e-books should inspire many more purchases. I know that once I get a reader, I'll be buying way more books than I've been able to in recent years because of the cheaper price.
You won the Silver Hammer Bram Stoker Award for your service to the Horror Writers Association (HWA). What work do you do for the HWA?
I try to increase awareness of horror writers, especially Canadian ones in Canada. I've run a booth at The Word on the Street for many years. This is an outdoor book festival in Toronto that attracts over 100,000 readers and writers a year. The booth provides a place for current HWA members to autograph books and meet their fans and distribute materials for both the HWA and their personal work. I facilitate the booth and keep the schedule going. I've also facilitated booths at Festival of Fear and Ad Astra. Every month or three, I'll organize dinners for networking. For over ten years, I've written the Canadian Content Corner for the HWA newsletter.
You had a role in the film Slime City Massacre. How did that come about? Do you plan on pursuing acting?
I play "Ruby," the wife of the cult leader, "Zachary" played by Robert C. Sabin. Director Greg Lamberson and I had known each other from HWA and other horror events over the years and he knew I had done a bit of theatre and I guess I had that Lily Munster thing going on, so he asked me. I was so excited. I'm in the black and white flashback sequences with Brooke Lewis. I've always loved acting and did a lot as a teen. I've dabbled a bit in recent years, and even was an extra in Love Guru and Repo Mambo. I would love to do more movies, especially horror. Slime City Massacre comes out on DVD this year. Other people you might know who are in it are Debbie Rochon, Lee Perkins, Kealan Patrick Burke, Jennifer Bihl, Lloyd Kaufman.
What do you hope readers get out of your work?
I just want to entertain people. It's my hope that readers will experience an exhilarating roller coaster and emerge from the ride feeling like something happened. It may be something quiet or loud, sexy or scary, enigmatic or profound but hopefully they got their mind off their own problems and fell into a world of make believe for a few hours.
What are you currently working on?
For the past year or so, I wasn't working much at all due to personal issues. But now I'm working away full force on some short stories for anthologies and several larger projects that I had to put on the back burner for a year or two.
- A collection of short stories which will contain a couple of stories that I've not written yet.
- Eternal Nightmare, novel, the story of a witch battling to make herself whole and then stop an evil entity from world domination.
- A novella
- Other short stories
I've been deeply curious about furthering my adventures in paranormal investigations and hope to go on some more haunted house missions soon so that I can write about them.