Thursday, February 17, 2011

Interview with Sarah Langan

Sarah Langan is the author of novels The Keeper, The Missing and Audrey's Door. She won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel in 2007 for The Missing and again in 2009 for Audrey's Door. You can find out more about Sarah at her website.

What drew you to the horror genre?

When I was a kid, I loved picking up rocks and looking at the bugs living underneath. I think it’s the same instinct. It’s not so much a choice, as a predilection of birth.

What scares you?

Death, sickness, stupidity, bad decisions, the movie Brazil, the book 1984.

Have you ever written something that scared you?

Always. I know I’m doing a good job when I have terrible nightmares about my characters.

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

Plenty of women write horror—it’s just packaged differently. Bad horror by men tends to be ultra-violent and sexist; bad horror by women tends to involve sexy werewolves and empowerment (but not the transgressive kind). The former gets called horror, the latter, paranormal romance.  But there are plenty of men and women writing excellent horror right now, that transcends these clichés.

Who are some women horror authors that you admire?

Living authors? Joyce Carol Oates, Cherie Priest, Liz Hand, Margo Lanagan, Sarah Waters, Sarah Pinborough, Gemma Files, Sarah Monette, Tananarive Due, and lots more.

What is your advice to aspiring women horror writers?

Same as it is to men: a writer writes. Every day. No excuses.

What are some of your favourite horror novels?

100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates; Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan; The Situation by Jeff VanderMeer; Illyria, by Liz Hand, Houses without Doors by Peter Straub; The Shining by Stephen King; The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson; Shakespeare’s MacBeth; Affliction by Russell Banks, and a bunch I’m probably forgetting.

Who is your favourite character you’ve created? Why?

I think it’s a tie between Audrey Lucas from Audrey’s Door, and Lois Larkin from The Missing. Both had very dark sides, and I sympathized with both. I guess, for the sake of theme, I could throw in Susan Marley from The Keeper. I like writing about messed-up chicks with brains, bad pasts, and serious challenges.

Your novels all include interesting and well-developed characters. Have you ever based characters on real people?

I started by thinking about circumstances, and then hone and edit for months until I have a character I believe is real. From there, I head into plot, often cutting the hundreds of pages it took to get there. The characters are their own, and not based on anything but my imagination.

Your books deal with the supernatural. Have you ever had a supernatural encounter? Do you believe in the supernatural?

During the daylight, I don’t believe. At night, I wonder.

Do you own an e-reader? How do you think e-readers are changing the publishing industry?

That’s too complicated a question for a short interview. I don’t own an e-reader, but I support them, because they make purchasing books more convenient. I’m against piracy unless authors have another form of revenue, like advertising, which I think will happen in the future.

What do you hope readers get out of your work?

I hope they get sucked in, and can’t put it down, and when they’re done, they feel like they lived, for a little while, outside their own skin.

What are you currently working on?

I’m neck-deep into my fourth novel, tentatively entitled Empty Houses.

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