Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
I’ve been a reader as long as I can remember. I love language. It’s like Play-Doh, a complete sensory experience that, with patience and practice, can make almost anything you imagine. Among my childhood friends, I was the storyteller who came up with ideas for let’s pretend, and constructed elaborate scenarios for my toys. As a teenager, I got into role-playing games as another outlet. Once I began attempting to write for real, I started with ‘traditional’ fantasy … but horror was my true calling. These days, it’s mostly historical horror and dark fantasy, with an emphasis on drawing from mythology, folklore, and various ancient cultures.
I have a teenage (only teenage for a couple more months, egads!) daughter, and in watching her with her friends, her with her shows, the way some attitudes seem universal to the young … it got me thinking about the gods of various mythologies. Being immortal, being eternally young, having that sense of invulnerability and freedom from responsibility … and what a dangerous thing that is among those who have power. The behaviour of the Norse gods in the stories, and the Viking heroes in the sagas, can be seen a real high school / frat boy light, brash and boasting, drinking, fighting, sex, joking around. Plus, I grew up on those 80s teen movies, so it all fell together from there.
How strongly do standard mythological stories influence your work and is there a particular type of mythology you favour?
Hugely … my fascination with mythology began with a kids’ book of Greek myths way back in elementary school. From there, I branched out to explore stories of the other pantheons, the differences and similarities they shared. I majored in psychology and, if I had to specify a school of thought, I’d call myself a Jungian/Skinnerian. Archetypes, collective unconscious, and the effects on behaviour. I’m still most familiar with the Greek myths, but since then I’ve studied Norse, Mayan, Egyptian, Celtic, and many others. It’s hard to pick a favourite. A lot has survived from the times of Greece and Rome, which makes them easier to learn about … but so little has survived of the Norse and Mayan that it lends an extra level of mystery.
If you could kill off any character from any other book, who would you choose and how would they die?
That is quite the question! Any other book? By any other author? Hmm. Do I go big, epic? Like, say, Sauron? A smaller but more personal and sinister evil, like Iago? (What a prime bastard that guy was!) Dolores Umbridge, who was way worse than Voldemort, in my opinion? And kill … I’ve killed off plenty of my own characters, some of whom deserved it and some who definitely didn’t … I’ve certainly wanted to slap characters in other books (looking at YOU, Mrs. Bennet and most of Jane Austen’s) … but the only ones I’ve ever wanted to rid the world of were those who were just so badly written that the literary world as a whole would be better off without them. And that’s never really the character’s fault.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Not the old “write what you know” clunker. I think that one’s done, and does, way more harm than good. How dull and limiting that would be. I prefer “write what you want to read.” The drawback, in my case, being that I want to read almost everything. For books on the craft, I’d go first and foremost with Stephen King’s On Writing, and the A Way with Wordsseries of Modern Scholar lectures by Professor Michael D.C. Drout. Most of the truly best advice I’ve received, though, hasn’t come in words so much as by example, the examples of writers who love what they do, who have fun with it, and let that shine through on every page, no matter how dark the subject matter might be.
Room 101 time: what one genre cliché would you get rid of?
The Prophecy. The whole one destined chosen hero balance to the force save the universe no matter what a reluctant dimwit or twerp. Hate that. It usually goes hand-in-hand with boring, insipid main characters who, for supposed protagonists, are never very proactive.
What are you up to next? (Published works/conventions/random fun stuff!)
My next horror novel, a non-sparkly vampire book called His Blood, is coming out soon from Belfire Press. I have stories in several upcoming anthologies, a lot of which are Lovecraftian or mythology-inspired (or both; myth-meets-Mythos is a blast!), and many Viking-themed tales. I’ve also recently taken on a few editing gigs, helping out with theGrimm Red/Black/White books from Fringeworks, a nature-run-amok anthology calledTeeming Terrors from KnightWatch, and the Fossil Lake anthologies. The next convention on my schedule will be Portland’s BizarroCon in November, always an awesome time, though I’m also planning to drop by Bellingham ComicCon in October.