Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Interview with Melanie Tem

Melanie Tem is the author of novels Prodigal, Blood Moon, Wilding, Making Love (with Nancy Holder), Revenant, Desmodus, Witch-Light (with Nancy Holder), The Tides, Black River, Daughters (with Steve Rasnic Tem), Slain in the Spirit, The Deceiver and short story collections Daddy's Side, Beautiful Stranger (with Steve Rasnic Tem) and The Ice Downstream. She won Bram Stoker Awards for her novel Prodigal and her novella The Man on the Ceiling (with Steve Rasnic Tem). Find out more about Melanie at her website.

What drew you to the horror genre?

I wouldn't say I'm "drawn to" any genre.  I'm drawn to write particular stories and write them in whatever form, length, language style, voice, person, tense, genre that seems to suit them best.  Besides horror, I've written in the science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy, children's literature, mainstream genres as well as poetry and plays.
What scares you?

  • the phrase "home invasion" because of the juxtaposition of two such contradictory images

  • the inevitability of loss

  • the thought that I might never be a good enough writer to write some of the stories I want to tell

Have you ever written something that scared you?

Writing is for me a way of giving form to whatever the underlying emotions are.  So if I'm writing a joyous piece, or one about love, or one about a very cold day, I am not made joyous or loving or cold by it.  It's the same with being scared.  I don't write for the purpose of scaring anybody, including myself.  I write to explore and to invite others to explore all possible dimensions of the human experience.

Why do you think there are fewer women writing horror than men?

I have no idea.  This isn't something I think about much.

Who are some women authors that you admire?

I want to be Toni Morrison when I grow up. 
What is your advice to aspiring women horror writers?


What are your favourite novels?

  • Toni Morrison's BELOVED

  • Markus Zusak's THE BOOK THIEF

Who are your favourite authors? Who influenced you the most?

I'm not consciously influenced by any particular authors, and I'll leave it to others to observe by whom I might have been influenced without being really aware of it.  I don't think I have "favorite" authors so much as favorite works, and there are many many of those.  Among the authors who have created works I love are Amy Hempel, Amy Bloom, Toni Morrison, Barbara Kingsolver, Robert Frost, Mary Doria Russell, John Keats, Marianne Moore, Mary Oliver, Connie Willis, Dan Simmons, Steve Rasnic Tem, Edward Bryant, Markus Zusak, Elizabeth Bishop.... 

What is your favourite novel you’ve written and your favourite character you’ve created? Why?

As with other people's work, I don't so much have a favorite among my works as a feeling of pride and affection toward different novels and short stories and poems and characters at different moments of my life and for different reasons.  My novel REVENANT is one I like a great deal, partly because so many readers have talked about in terms like "life-changing."  I'm fond of my as-yet-unsold novel YELLOW WOOD because of its idiosyncratic take on parent-child relationships.  I like Cecilia, the protagonist in my novel THE DECEIVER, because she was modeled on a dear friend of mine who was, like Cecilia (I hope), interesting and complex and full of stories and funny and loving and irascible and entirely her own person.  I am pleased by my science fiction story "Corn Teeth," which will appear in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine sometime this year, because it was a challenge and a stretch for me to write it and I think it works pretty well.  I like the character called Little Shit in my story of the same name, which will be in the anthology SUPERNATURAL NOIR edited by Ellen Datlow, also due out this year, because she's both steely and vulnerable and also very eccentric; I have notes for a sort of crime series about her. 

But if I were to answer this question on another day, I might single out other things.

You have written novels with Nancy Holder and your husband, Steve Rasnic Tem. Do you prefer to write with others, or by yourself?

I've also collaborated on an as-yet-unsold novel with Janet Gluckman Berliner called WHAT YOU REMEMBER I DID.

I don't prefer one approach over the other.  Some ideas are one-author ideas.  Others are collaborative in nature.  Sometimes two voices add to the telling, and sometimes a third voice emerges that neither writer could have achieved alone.  Playwriting is another form of collaboration; once I turn over a script to a director and actors, it isn't "mine" anymore, but "ours," and I find that exciting.  But I'm also nourished by the solitary writing life.
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 don't know yet how e-books will change publishing; I'm watching with interest.  Several of my titles have been available in e-format from Richard Curtis's eReads for some years.  David Niall Wilson's Crossroad Press is now doing several in both e-format and audio.
What do you hope readers get out of your work?

New or deeper or exciting or touching or disturbing or in some other way authentic ways of experiencing human life
What are you currently working on?

  • a play inspired by an incident a decade ago in which a child died during a "re-birthing" therapy session

  • a YA time travel novel (in collaboration with Steve)

  • a short story that might turn out to be science fiction or dark fantasy, or not

1 comment:

Will Errickson said...

I just found a nice copy of PRODIGAL, which I haven't read since it came out, but I quite liked it at the time. And she is so right about "home invasion"! *shiver*