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Interview: Haunting and Horror Writer Pamela Morris Talks Books, Women in Horror, and Historical Locations #WIHM #womeninhorror #historicalhorror

Tomorrow is the last day of February and the closing of Women in Horror Month, but I know that I for one won’t stop celebrating women all year long. Stay tuned in March for a little announcement on how I will do that even more on schedule than I have before on this site, even though a majority of people featured here has always been predominately women.

Today, join me for a last segment in my mini women in horror month series. Pamela is a cool horror writer I met online years ago through our mutual friendship with horror author Hunter Shea. She likes her ghouls and haunts and history and so this will be a fun and interesting interview to read. Enjoy!

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Hi Pamela, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so glad you could join us. I have strong coffee or tea, whichever you’d prefer, or stiff drink. Take your pick, and if the former, tell me how you take it.

Pamela: Hey, Erin. It’s nice to be here. *checks the time* Coffee sounds great, with a double shot of Jameson and some whipped cream sounds about right after that chilly walk over here.

Erin: That sounds incredibly wonderful! Let’s carry them into the dining room and begin our chat!

I’ve known you for quite a few years, meeting you online from Hunter Shea. I know you are a fan of the paranormal and write many books in that vein. Can you tell my readers a bit about that and what you write?

Pamela: I have always been interested in all things occult and paranormal. It was something I grew up being very curious about and was never discourage away from learning. I’ve also been an avid reader all my life, so I guess the two just went hand-in-hand. First you read it. Then, in my case, you start writing about it. My first paranormal story was a three-page tale titled “The Strange Well” that I wrote when I was ten.

As I grew older, the stories got longer until now, I focus mainly on novels. My first two supernatural novels also happened to be murder-mysteries and are set in Barnesville, the fictionalized version of the small town I grew up in. Barnesville is home to a secret coven of witches who keep an eye on things. Currently I have four books set in Barnesville and there will be more eventually. These books lean towards the YA crowd.

In addition to The Barnesville Chronicles, I have a psychological horror that is very dark and deals with some taboo subject matter: abuse, rape, incest, murder, etc. Not YA in the least. Lastly, I wrote ghost story where a lot of the story is told from the perspective of the three ghosts involved. You don’t just see or hear what they are doing, but you get to know them as they were in life and why they are doing what they are doing, not just to the living but to their fellow trapped spirits.

Erin: What is your newest book and what’s that about? What did you find the most fun about writing that one and why?

Pamela: Last year I released a novel and a short story. The novel was the second part and conclusion to “The Witch’s Backbone” one of my Barnesville books. It’s very much a coming-of-age type tale. Five kids living in a small town decide to find out the truth about their local urban legend. The legend involves a witch named Rebekkah Hodak who is rumored to haunt a narrow ravine just outside town. It’s said that if you go to where her body was found, see her, and meet her gaze, you’re cursed to die an early, and possibly gruesome, death. One of the kids, twelve-year-old Tara Fielding, accidently sees what she believes to be this witch. Her panic and belief in the legend are what spawns the organization of a camping trip into the nearby woods. Horror ensues.

The short story is all about my personal fear of spiders, “Because, Spiders.” It’s about a nine-year-old girl whose fear is even greater than my own. She’s convinced there’s a giant spider hiding in the shed behind her house and she’s pretty sure it caught and ate the neighbor’s dog, too.

Erin: Do you feature any strong female in starring or supporting roles in your novels and stories? Tell us about a few and what their traits are?

Pamela: Most of my lead characters are women. In The Barnesville Chronicles, that would be Nell Miller. She’s the local small town librarian, who also happens to be a member of the coven mentioned earlier. She’s very out about being Pagan and confident in her magic abilities. She’s a bit of an instigator, always wanting to know more, do more, take action. She’s no Nervous Nellie, that’s for sure. She’s not one to turn down a challenge and will often drag her reluctant friends into helping her out.

In “Dark Hollow Road”, the psychological horror, one of the lead female characters is Mary Alice Brown. She’s the eldest of four and after the death of their mother, she’s the one responsible for taking care of all the rest. She struggles a lot with all that entails, including dealing with their abusive, alcoholic father. She does her best to protect them from him, even if that means she gets hurt in the process. She’s very shy, not well educated, and the victim of a lot of bullying both at home and around town, but she retains her sense of what is right and wrong, she has her hopes and dreams. She’s a fighter.

Erin: I love mysteries and historical research as well. How do those two loves of yours factor into your work?

Pamela: Every year for many, many years I’d get at least four Nancy Drew books for Christmas. I’d have them read by the end of January and craving more. That’s where my love of mysteries started and what greatly influenced what I write. Later I’d graduate to Agatha Christie and Wilkie Collins, but Nancy Drew was really the one that taught me that a mystery doesn’t always have to involve a murder.

My maternal grandmother was really interested in family genealogy so I think that may be where my love of history started. She liked antiques and all that. From 2004-2011, I was an American Civil War reenactor. That required a lot of research to know what the heck I was doing or talking to others about as my living history persona. The two main ghosts in “No Rest For The Wicked” are from that time period. I like to keep things as historically accurate as I can so all the research I did for my reenacting, was poured into them. The witches of Barnesville are descendants of the people accused of witchcraft in Connecticut from 1647 to 1663. No Salem witches for me – too typical. I wanted to be different, at last a little bit anyway. So, yeah, lots of real history worked in to everything I write – including that secret Barnesville coven that allegedly existed in my real hometown when I was a teenager!

Erin: What is one piece or location of history you’d like to explore of have explored for your writing or just for general interest? What interesting things have you found?

Pamela: Probably the Salem Witch Trials. I wrote my final high school English paper on the possible causes of the events that took place there. At the time, my mom was working at the main research library at Cornell University and that gave me magical access to the collection of documents housed there on the topic. I got to sit in a locked room with nothing but a pencil, paper, and some of the original document from which I took notes. With those and a few other books I owned at the time, I put together my paper. In 1989 my first husband and I went to New England for our honeymoon and decided we needed to spend the day in Salem. It was a rather whirlwind tour of the place, but still pretty neat. It wasn’t until many, many years later that I’d learn one of the women accused was a distant relative! It was also much later while doing some genealogy research for a friend that I learned about the Connecticut Witch Trials that preceded Salem by about thirty years. It was from this research that I drew the founders, and first coven members, of fictional Barnesville.

Erin: That’s so cool!! How hard do you feel it is to write mysteries and tie up all the points? How do you do so? Outline? What are the challenges and what are the rewards?

Pamela: Only my first two books were murder-mysteries and it was a lot more difficult than I’d initially thought. I’m normally a pantster (meaning I don’t outline … at all), I just write and kind of know where I’m headed or want to head. The mysteries wouldn’t allow that much freedom. Not only do you have to know who committed the murder, why, and how – but you have to come up with believable alibis for all the suspects, the reasons they might have committed the crime, and a secret they have that would cause them to lie about their whereabouts or motivations. Good grief! Plus, if you’re going to touch on police procedures that’s another layer of research to look into. All this is a bit more restricting than I like being, but … the reward of pulling it off, for misdirecting successfully, and it all still making sense in the end feels great.

Erin: You grew up watching horror, I believe. What are some of your great influences and what do you prefer to watch now? Same then with the reading, let us know reads you’ve loved and those who influence your work.

Pamela: Yes, I’ve been watching Horror since I was a wee thing. It started with the local Saturday afternoon horror show, “Monster Movie Matinee’. With the cartoons over, it was time to sit on the floor with a little tray of lunch and take in the creature feature. They showed mostly Universal movies – Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Abbot and Costello Meet The Wolfman, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken – family friendly horror, I guess. I grew into the Friday and Saturday night programming after that, darker stuff that started after the 11 o’clock news. Hammer Pictures, a lot of Christopher Lee. I love me them vampires! “Let’s Scare Jessica To Death”, “Night of the Living Dead”, “The Haunting of Hill House”, and “The Legend of Hell House”, “The Other” and “Dark Secret of Harvest Home” are the most memorable ones. Once in a while they’d have a great Made-For-TV movies on. “Night of the Scarecrow” was terrifying to me and my novel “Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon” was directly inspired by it. Elements of “The Other” also come into play in my book. Lastly, being from Rod Serling Country in Upstate New York, I adored both Twilight Zone and Night Gallery.

Oddly, I have a harder time coming up with books that influenced my writing. The style of certain authors inspired me, but maybe not so much the stories themselves. Tanith Lee, a British author, had a collection of kind of Horror\Sci-fi stuff that involved twisted fairy tales. Before her, I’d never heard of doing such a thing. I thought it was super cool and tried my hand at it with varied success. The fine art of short stories eludes me, though I keep trying. I liked Stephen Kings whole ‘small town – weird secret’ theme, too. That can be found in the Barnesville books. Of course, there’s good old Nancy Drew, again. I really enjoy books that make me think more about what’s going on, stories that misdirect the reader and have a lot of unexpected twists, endings that make me sit there and go, “Huh. I never saw that coming at all.” That’s what I try to do.

Erin: I’m a history buff too, and I know you were a Civil War re-enactor for a decade. What role(s) did you play? What was exciting about it? What type of horror or haunts did you learn? Have you used any of your time doing this in your writing?

Pamela: I played the wife of a field embalmer – aka an undertaker. It was very uncommon at the time, but not unheard of. It was also a very lucrative business. A lot like selling life insurance. My job was to gather the personal items of the deceased, write the letter home to his family, and mourn the poor soul appropriately. That involved sitting next to the coffin while dressed in black, wearing a black veil, and weeping (or pretending to weep). Those Victorians viewed death a lot differently than we do, mourning and a proper Christian burial was paramount. Embalming was a new science – formaldehyde hadn’t been invented yet so there was a variety of embalming fluid recipes. All very morbid to a lot of people. A lot of visitors wouldn’t even stop at our display. As I mentioned earlier, the two main ghosts in “No Rest For The Wicked” are from this time period and the man, Beauregard Addams, was the owner of a funeral parlor as well as having been a field embalmer and surgeon during the war.

Erin: That’s so interesting! Also, a mutual fan of road trips, do you take any to historical or haunted locations?

Pamela: No, we have not intentionally sought out haunted or historical locations. My husband isn’t into the whole paranormal or horror thing as much as I am, though I did manage to drag him to Granger, Texas to see the house used in the 2003 remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s not far from where his mom lives. So, that was cool. I also dragged him out to Terligua in West Texas for the Day of the Dead in the cemetery there. He humors me in all my ghostly, cemetery, haunted weirdness ways.

This summer we are hoping to make a delayed trip out to Boston Harbor to see the USS Constitution, might swing by Salem, but I want to go to Danvers, Massachusetts to see the homestead of Rebecca Towne Nurse who was one of the woman accused and hung for witchcraft back in 1692. She was also my 7x great aunt so I’m kinda curious about all that. We also plan on swinging over to Plimoth Plantation followed by Fall River to see Lizzie Borden’s old stomping grounds then west to wander through Sleepy Hollow for a bit before heading home.

Other road trips are much shorter, day trips or a weekend long adventure on the motorcycle. Anything beyond a four hour ride gets a bit sore on the old bottom!

Erin: Oh nice! That came in once near where son is in DC (the USS Constitution and other tall ships) and he loved it. He’s huge on that stuff (me too). That sounds like some amazing road trip stuff! I want to do all of that too. haha!

What are you working on now and what are your plans for the near future in terms of your writing?

Pamela: I am just finishing up the 4th draft of what I’m calling a Texas Gothic Horror titled “The Inheritance”. It should be ready this summer. I’m a big fan of the classic Gothic genre, old stuff, like Bram Stoker, Poe, and Wilkie Collins and really wanted to write something along those lines. But, I also wanted it to be contemporary, so I set it in the West Texas desert, added some bad ass bikers, and a band of really pissed off Apache spirits. Good times! This was great fun to write! And using the traditional plotting schemes of a Gothic novel really made things zip along. The most fun maybe was doing the research for this – ya know, actually being in the West Texas desert and taking notes, soaking it all in. Creating the biker gang was a blast, too.

Erin: What tips do you have for other women in horror in support of each other or sharing work?

Pamela: I’m really happy that I’m seeing more and more female writers in the Horror genre. There were so few that I knew of as a kids and for as much as I loved King, it would have been every nicer to have had more women to look up to.

I’ve always written what I loved to read and that’s the first thing you need to do, male or female. If you love monsters and freaky creatures, write about them. If you love vampires, write about them. If you love ghosts facing off against bad ass biker chicks, write about them! Your personal passion will come through in your writing. Start there and run with it. Read other female Horror authors. I’ve found their work so much more relatable. Where the men tend to go for the more violent, blood-slinging slasher, women, at least in my readings, tend to be more subtle and devious. But, hey – if you’re a lady and enjoy wielding that machete or ax, swing away!

Enjoy yourself and with any luck at all, those who read your work will enjoy reading it as much as you did writing it. It’s all about having fun after all, right?

Erin: Thanks so much for joining us today, Pamela! You’re welcome anytime, especially if you’ve got a good haunting story. Haha! Let us know where readers can find you, please.

Pamela: It was great chatting with you, Erin. All my titles can be found on Amazon and everything is available in both paperback and Kindle formats. I also have a website, pamelamorrisbooks.com. There are a few free short stories there and a blog where I babble about crows and other random weirdness, sometimes Horror-related, sometimes not. On Facebook, I can be found at Facebook. Folks are welcome to Like an Follow me there, of course. I’m pretty active on Twitter if folks want to follow me there, @pamelamorris65.

Thank you for having me over and letting me babble on about my work. I must say, you make a mean Irish coffee. And with that, in the words of Morticia Addams, “Have a delightfully dreary day!”

Erin: HAHA!! Anytime. It’s rather snowy here so I shall have a freezing night for sure. 😀

Pamela Morris Biography –

PamelaMorris_2019_2Raised in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, but forever longing for the white sands of her birthplace in New Mexico, Pamela has always loved mysteries and the macabre. In high school she quickly found herself labeled ‘That Witchy Chic.’ And school dances? Forget about it! You’d be far more likely to find her at the local small town library on a Friday night or listening to a Horror movie soundtrack in her darkened bedroom.

When her nose wasn’t buried in a vampire novel or any number of books penned by her favorite authors such as Poe, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, Tanith Lee, Shirley Jackson, and Wilkie Collins, Pamela was probably watching ‘Monster Movie Matinee,’ ‘Twilight Zone,’ ‘Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” and a myriad of Hammer Films that further fed her growing obsession with Horror.

All grown up now, Pamela has raised two children and enjoys drawing and painting, watching bad B-Movies, remaining ever vigilant to the possibility of encountering a UFO or Bigfoot, an taking road trips with her husband on the Harley. She feeds the local murder of crows in her back yard and still hasn’t quite figured out how she became the Cvlt Leader for The Final Guys Podcast.

TWB1_Curse_CoverFrontThe Witch’s Backbone – Part 1: The Curse

It’s 1980 and the dog days of summer have settled over the small farming community of Meyer’s Knob. Five friends have spent their time at the local creek swimming and gathering crayfish, riding bikes, and mostly just trying to avoid boredom.

When tomboy Tara Fielding reports she’s spotted what she believes to be the witch of their local urban legend, and is now subject to that legend’s deadly curse, her friends rally ‘round and decide they’re going to prove there’s no such thing. After lying to their parents about where they’ll be, the friends head out to The Witch’s Backbone where, the legend claims, the witch waits for foolish travelers who dare pass that way at night.

What the group witnesses during this late summer field trip and what they find out after they return to civilization, does little to put anyone’s mind at ease, least of all Tara’s. Not only do they now believe this long-dead 19th century witch is real, but that she has friends who are still practicing the Black Arts, friends that will see to it that the legend’s curse is carried out.

Are there evil witches stalking the woods and sun-starved ravines between Meyer’s Knob and the neighboring town of Barnesville? Or have the kids just let boredom, the oppressive summer heat, and their own imaginations get the better of them?

Link to Amazon

NRFTWfront_coverNo Rest For The Wicked

 Theirs was a hatred that lived beyond the grave.

A powerless domestic who searches for escape. Naked and screaming, the ghost of Sadie Price wants nothing more than to strike terror into all who dare enter Greenbrier Plantation.

A murderous wife who seeks justice. Lucy thought shooting her philandering husband and his mistress would bring her peace, but her subsequent suicide only creates a more hellish existence for her in the afterlife.

A sadistic doctor who refuses to relinquish control. Dr. Addams stalks the house and grounds of Greenbrier Plantation using his dark powers to control his Earth-bound spirits and anyone living who dares get in his way.

Can peace ever come to these tortured souls or are they eternally damned to walk the earth as proof that there really is no rest for the wicked?

Link to Amazon

DarkHollowRoad-FrontOnlyDark Hollow Road

 A past filled with terror.

On Dark Hollow Road, Mary Alice Brown and her siblings know little more than poverty and abuse at the hands of their father. Getting rid of their tormentor seemed the answer to bringing joy back into their lives. But when that doesn’t work, Mary takes it upon herself to see that justice is served.

A present full of dread.

After an unusual visit from an elderly woman looking to borrow sugar, the theft of his coloring book, and complaints about other kids bothering him in the middle of the night, six-year-old Brandon Evenson, who lives within sight of the house on Dark Hollow Road, goes missing.

A future obsessed with revenge.

Desperate, Brandon’s parents seek answers from Lee Yagar, a local who’s warned people time and again of the dangers lurking at the old Brown place. But, Lee’s suggestion that Mary is involved in Brandon’s abduction makes little sense.

Mary is presumed dead, as she’s not been seen in decades, but is she? And is the house truly as empty and abandoned as it appears to be?

A psychological horror driven by hate, fear, and every parent’s worst nightmare.

Link to Amazon

WiHM11-GrrrlBlack

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Filed under HookonWiHM, Q and A with Authors, women in history, women in horror

Interview: Michelle Renee Lane about Diversity, Race, New Orleans, and Her Book Invisible Chains #WIHM #WIHM11 #diversityandinclusion

As promised, I finally have some content coming for women in horror month! I have several interviews, which will start today with Michelle Lane, a couple guest articles, and some reviews. Women writing horror is not new, but it’s a phenomenon that’s hitting like a wave. There is so much to share and learn. I know each year I’ve met someone I hadn’t heard of before. The reviews that don’t get snuck in will appear during the roll over to March. I have no problem featuring women all year.

Without further commentary from me, let’s begin. I wanted to invite Michelle here today so I could learn more about her myself, and hopefully, let you learn along with me. I’ve been interested in her work since the release of her book last year, Invisible Chains from Haverhill, and I’m always about supporting other women and diversity. I really would love to talk to more women of color about their experiences and how it influences their writing. I hope you enjoy learning more about her with me because she gave some wicked interesting answers. Invisible Chains just today became a Bram Stoker Award nominee, and with its historical horror elements (and New Orleans vibe and vampires and strong female protagonist…I could go on), I’m anxious to read it.

Hi Michelle, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so glad you could join me for Women in Horror Month. I’ve really been looking forward to talking to you. I have some coffee or tea? Let me know your pleasure and how you take it, please. Or a cocktail if you prefer!

Michelle: Hello Erin, thanks for having me. I drink a lot of coffee and I enjoy tea, but it’s been a rough couple of weeks. So if you’re making cocktails, I’d love a Bourbon and ginger. And, you should probably make it a double.

bourbon

Erin: Excellent – a lady after my own heart with the Bourbon! We’ll just bring this in and sit down so we can chat. Let’s get started.

I first was introduced to you via my friend and client Stephanie Wytovich when she interviewed you a year or two ago. I was excited to hear of your book Invisible Chains at the time it came out and now that it’s been listed on the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards. For those readers that don’t know of the book, would you mind telling us about it?

Michelle: Sure. Invisible Chains is a supernatural slave narrative. When I say that, a lot of people ask what that means. So, like a traditional slave narrative, it’s told in first person POV in the voice of a young female slave, Jacqueline. What makes it supernatural are the elements of magic, monsters, and travel between worlds, or at the very least dimensions. However, the true horror found in the novel comes from the historical violence experienced by slaves under institutionalized slavery in America. I tried to place this institution under a microscope and focus in how the system of slavery negatively affected men and women, both Black and White. Jacqueline lives in a world where violence is always on the table – sexual violence, physical torture, psychologically damaging and dehumanizing verbal abuse, and the ever-present threat of death.

Erin: Where did your inspiration for your book come from?

Michelle: I thought I wanted to write a book about vampires. I have been obsessed with vampires since I was very young and my gateway drug to vampire fiction was a copy of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire I received as a Christmas gift when I was eleven. I read everything Anne Rice wrote after that, including the books she wrote under her nom de plumes, Belinda and the first three books in The Sleeping Beauty Quartet. I fell in love with her vampires and wanted to write books like hers. That is until I read Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories, and Octavia Butler’s Kindred. Vampires are great, but I wasn’t seeing myself in vampire fiction, and for the most part, I didn’t like the depictions of people of color in horror novels and films. When I read Morrison, Gomez and Butler, among other women of color writers like Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Audre Lorde and Tananarive Due, I saw myself and connected with their words and their characters who were women of color. I still wanted to write about vampires, but from a different perspective. I wanted to tell the story of a young woman who survives what seem to be insurmountable challenges while dealing with grief, abuse, and extreme poverty as she creates a place for herself in the world on her own terms using her intellect and power.

Erin: How did you choose the setting of New Orleans and how much research into it and the time period did you do, and how?

Michelle: When I was nineteen, I met a girl at a party, and we started talking about what we were currently reading and our favorite books. At some point in the conversation we both realized that most of the books we were talking about were set in New Orleans. Neither of us had ever been there and she suggested a road trip. Like most conversations I had while partying, I assumed that while her enthusiasm for the trip was real, I didn’t think she meant that we would really go. But, the following week, she contacted me about getting youth hostel passes and picking dates. During Winter break that year, she drove us from Pennsylvania to Louisiana. It was my first trip to the city, and it was amazing. I’ve visited the city several times since and made a point of getting to know as much as I can about the food, cultures, history, and my favorite part, the ghost stories and haunted history. I haven’t been to New Orleans in several years, but it is one of my favorite places on Earth and one day, I hope to make it my home.

A lot of research went into this book, including reading about slavery in general, slavery in New Orleans specifically, what people ate, what they wore, what things cost, etc. The house that Jacqueline works and lives in is a house I’ve toured twice, the Gallier House, located at 1132 Royal Street. I read actual slave narratives to get a sense of how they were told/written. I read as much as I possibly could about Voudon, Hoodoo, and the West African pantheon of gods. I tried to incorporate the Creole French spoken by slaves. I studied maps of plantations from the 1850s. I re-watched a lot of vampire movies and TV shows to capture the appearance, demeanor, and personality of my antagonist. While his name comes from a person I knew in real life, he’s a compilation of characteristics from Aidan Turner’s John Mitchell on Being Human (UK), Jonathan Frid’s Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows, and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers’ Dracula on NBC’s adaptation of Dracula.

1200px-GallierHouseBelowA

Gallier House New Orleans / Wiki Commons

Erin: That’s ALL amazing, from wanting to live in New Orleans, to the research, to creating your characters.

Let’s talk now about the formulation of your characters. Which one was your favorite to write? Which one was most challenging? How did you decide to form them and did that also include research into history, culture, dialogue, etc.?

Michelle: My favorite character to develop and write was my antagonist, Carlos Velazquez, a Spanish vampire whose backstory I’ve only begun to tap into. I have a lot more to say about him and hope to start working on either a short story or novella told from his POV, and then I’d like to work on the sequel to Invisible Chains. He uses Spanish words occasionally in his dialog, and while he appears to be White and wealthy, he is quite aware of the injustices suffered by people of color under slavery.

Jacqueline was the most difficult, because I wanted to get her voice just right. I wanted her to sound intelligent and authentic to her time period and station in life. Some reviewers have pointed out anachronisms in her use of language, but I made every effort to avoid that. What made that especially difficult is the fact that while this story is set in Antebellum New Orleans, there are a lot of parallels between Jacqueline’s time and this time. Racism, sexism, poverty, sexual abuse, violence, controlling women’s bodies, policing brown bodies – these are all things that are still very much current events. My voice and emotions would sometimes get tangled up with hers.

She lives a dual life and must wear masks to keep herself safe. She can’t appear to be too intelligent around Whites, because if they find out she can read and write, she will be punished severely. Incorporating Creole French into her dialog was necessary in my opinion to give her voice authenticity. She must balance her speech between self confidence and being subservient, which is a tightrope walk many people of color have had to navigate.

Erin: Your plot also includes a mystery. How difficult was it to write that type of plot and tie up all the points in a debut novel? Did you outline?

Michelle: You know, I didn’t realize I was writing a mystery until I was more than halfway through the book. So, when that finally occurred to me, I went back through the book to make sure that things made sense and that there weren’t any missing pieces. Honestly, I’m still not 100% sure I accomplished that. I rarely use outlines while I’m writing, but because there are so many plot points, themes, and characters, I would sometimes outline what should happen next in the story. Scenes or snippets of dialog usually come to me first, so I had to figure out how to connect all those pieces. I began to think of the book as a quilt that I needed to stitch together. Scenes and dialog have started to present themselves for the second book, but I think outlining will be a must to maintain continuity with the first book and keep things on track for where I believe the story is headed.

Erin: I’m a pantser too so I totally get it! But I can see why with a mystery or a series an outline would be advantageous.

Your lead is a creole slave, and primarily, I believe, readers are following her journey. You’re a strong woman yourself who’s been through a lot and is a single mom. How much of yourself or other strong women did you write into Jacqueline? What kind of traits are you proud of giving her?

Michelle: That is an excellent question, Erin. I really appreciate you asking it. I think for a lot of women, being strong isn’t optional. Depending on who you are and your economic status, women deal with sexism, racism and classism on a daily basis. Microaggressions pile up faster than you might think and add an extra dimension to the stresses associated with work and parenting. Throw sexual relationships into the mix and that’s another level of stress even if you’re enjoying yourself.

There is a lot of me in Jacqueline, and while I was writing Invisible Chains, there were times I needed her to be stronger than me to face the challenges I created for her. Writing this novel was an extremely cathartic process for me and I cried during and after writing certain scenes. The extremely dysfunctional relationships Jacqueline has with certain characters are reflections of relationships I have had and needed to find the strength to avoid in the future. I’m proud of her because she doesn’t give up no matter how bad things get, she faces and slays her demons, and learns to believe in her own strength and power. And, slowly, she allows herself to trust others, which is no small task when you have been abused your entire life.

Erin: I hope you don’t mind me asking, but I want to address these points so that people can grasp diversity a bit better. As it’s Black History Month as well as Women in Horror month, your book ties in perfectly to those awareness campaigns. How important is it that voices not only for women in horror but for women of color in horror are heard? Why do you feel your protagonist as a person of color is important to the genre?

Michelle: I recently wrote a Women in Horror Month guest post for The Horror Tree that was featured on their website February 17, titled “Redefining the Horror Genre.” In the article, I began by examining the famous Lovecraft quote, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” I argue that for people of color, women, and anyone who lives on the margins of society, there are plenty of things to fear in the real world. Fearing the unknown seems like something reserved for people privileged enough to not have to feel like they’re in danger every day. There are plenty of things to fear, past and present—racism, sexism, slavery, the Holocaust, the systematic rape of women in extremist cultures, child abuse, gay bashing, the murder of transgendered people, or the genocide of native cultures world-wide—that make fearing the Elder Gods seem a bit ridiculous.

By including more diverse writers and characters in the horror genre, fear becomes more personal, more tangible, and in the words of second-wave feminist Carol Hanish, “The personal is the political.” Gender and race politics are important aspects of daily life for many of us, so for horror to be relevant and horrific, I think it needs to meet people where they live.

Our ever-changing sociopolitical climate is having, in my opinion, a positive effect on horror fiction. As more diverse voices emerge within the genre, I think that we will have more stories that redefine horror on a very personal level. Stories that look at identity politics as well as horrific experiences that can only be told from the POV of people who have experienced them.

Erin: Speaking of all of that: How about the inclusion of slavery into your work? How important do you feel that it is in history and culture today to include these events not only in the historical genre but in other genres, reaching other readers?

Michelle: Slavery happened. It is part of our history. It was terrifying and violent. A lot of people would like to believe that slavery wasn’t so bad for the people who suffered under it. Bullshit. People were tortured and killed. There’s nothing idyllic or romantic about this gruesome chapter in human history.

Here’s an idea for a story: The ghosts of slaves haunt a plantation house that has been renovated and rebranded as a place for destination weddings and terrorize the bridal parties. Honestly, I don’t care how many coats of paint you use or how many rose garlands you hang, there is something very dark about using a place where human beings were sold and treated like animals as the spot to celebrate what is meant to be one of the happiest days of your life.

So, yes, I think it’s still important to talk about slavery in its historical context as well as how it has shaped our current economy, political system, and social interactions in the United States.

Erin: In your bio and on your site, you talk about writing about women of color who battle their inner demons while falling in love with monsters. What do you mean by that and how do you feel you do that in your writing?

Michelle: You know, I’ve been thinking about my bio a lot lately. I do write stories about women of color who are dealing with issues of identity, past trauma, and often the reality of every day, plain old racism that is just part of living while Black and female in America. We all have our demons — trauma, addictions, obsessions, failed relationships, greed, lust, and any of the other five deadly sins. Confronting our demons is never easy, but when we take the time and make space for that process, healing can begin. I’m not sure that we’ll ever be able to heal the wound that slavery and racism have carved into the American consciousness, but talking about it and reading stories written by diverse writers can help open new doors to understanding and allow for people to build community around healing from these issues.

That bit about falling in love with monsters relates to the fact that I enjoy love stories, but if you write horror and dark fantasy, those romances don’t always have happy endings. Vampires, werewolves, and demons can be quite attractive in their own ways and they make more interesting sexual partners than the nice guy who bags groceries at Trader Joe’s, at least in fiction.

I read a lot of paranormal romance and there are common themes in that fiction, especially vampire romance, in which vampires are depicted as being ideal mates. But when you examine these relationships more closely, vampires are really narcissistic, controlling and often abusive partners. I’ve been writing a blog series about that very subject over at Speculative Chic, “With This Ring, You’ll Be Dead: Violence Against Female Protagonists in Romantic Vampire Fiction.” And still, I find monsters very attractive and write about some of my favorite monsters on my own blog, Girl Meets Monster. And, they will continue to show up in my fiction, because I love writing about monsters. Because they often occupy the role of outsider, I believe they make good companions for my female characters who are often just as damaged.

Erin: I read your recent article on Medium “I was a Teenage Tragic Mulatto.” It was a brave piece, and as a fellow woman, and woman of abuse, I’m really proud of your strength in sharing your story. How do you feel more of these stories could be heard and understood better? How do you feel you fit as a woman of horror AND as woman of color in the horror genre?

Michelle: Again, I think that having a more inclusive genre that allows space for diverse voices with new perspectives on what horror means, will enable people to tell their stories. Not everyone is comfortable sharing the details of their own traumatic experiences. Thank you for referring to that piece as being brave. I struggled with whether or not to share it. It was a piece I had been thinking about writing for months and I finally sat down and wrote it. I shared it with two of my friends who I trust to be honest with me, and they both thought it was good and gave some feedback that made the piece stronger. That story could have easily been a piece of fiction, but honestly, that story makes its way into my fiction one way or another, because it is part of me and my female characters are a reflection of me.

For a long time I struggled, like most creatives, with the idea of imposter syndrome. I questioned whether or not I was really a horror writer, because people kept telling me that my story wasn’t a horror story. They wanted it to be historical fiction, which it is. They wanted it to be dark fantasy, which it is. They wanted it to be women’s fiction, whatever the hell that is. But now that other people have read it, reviewed it, and expressed how uncomfortable and emotional and terrifying the story was for them, I have no doubt that I wrote a horror novel. I am a horror writer.

Erin: Yes!!! I’m tired of people trying to define horror for others!

What can other women of horror do to support women of color in the horror genre (or in general)?

Michelle: Read and review our books. Invite us to participate in opportunities like this that showcase our work. Befriend them at conferences and have real conversations over cocktails. Invite them to submit to your next anthology, even if it isn’t strictly about race or gender identity. Ask questions and share your stories.

Erin: I love your blog.

Michelle: Thank you. I love writing for it and giving other writers the opportunity to talk about their work and what their writing process looks like. It’s fun and I get to learn new things and meet new writers.

Erin: What other writing have you done, or do you plan to do? What’s next for you?

Michelle: What’s next? Well, I have a short story in the charity anthology, The Dystopian States of America that will be released on March 3, 2020. There are two more parts to the series I’ve been writing for Speculative Chic, and I expect to be writing other things for them, including a review of Grady Hendrix’s soon to be released novel, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, which I’ve been dying to talk about for months. I’m hoping to write more articles for Medium, and I’ll be submitting more short stories over the next few months.

People keep asking me if I’m working on the sequel to Invisible Chains. Technically, I am. I even have a working title, Blood Work. I’ve started doing research, I’ve drafted a few chapters, and I’ve introduced some new characters, but I haven’t set aside dedicated time to work on the manuscript. Not yet, at least. But I’m hoping to start working on the book in April, if not sooner.

Erin: Thank you for joining me here on my site and know you’re welcome anytime! Best of luck both to you and to Invisible Chains. And thank you for supporting other women and writers on Girl Meets Monster. Can you let people know where they can find you there and elsewhere?

Michelle: Thank you for having me, Erin. You asked a lot of thought-provoking questions and I really appreciate your interest in supporting other women writers. Yeah, so people can find my blog, Girl Meets Monster here: https://michellerlane.com/. You can check out my author archive at Speculative Chic here: https://speculativechic.com/author/chellane72/. And, you can always drop by and say hello to me on social media. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Michelle Renee Lane, Biography –

Michelle_Lane_PhotoMichelle Renee Lane writes dark speculative fiction about women of color battling their inner demons while falling in love with monsters. Her work includes elements of fantasy, horror, romance, and occasionally erotica.

Her short fiction appears in the anthologies Dark Holidays, Terror Politico: A Screaming World in Chaos, and The Monstrous Feminine: Dark Tales of Dangerous Women. Her debut novel, Invisible Chains (2019), is available from Haverhill House Publishing.

Invisible Chains, Synopsis –

invisiblechains_v2c-cover-2 (1)Jacqueline is a young Creole slave in antebellum New Orleans. An unusual stranger who has haunted her dreams since childhood comes to stay as a guest in her master’s house. Soon after his arrival, members of the household die mysteriously, and Jacqueline is suspected of murder.

Despite her fear of the stranger, Jacqueline befriends him and he helps her escape. While running from the slave catchers, they meet conjurers, a loup-garou, and a traveling circus of supernatural freaks. She relies on ancestral magic to guide her and finds strength to conquer her fears on her journey.Women in Horror

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“This assured first novel delivers emotional and visceral beats to delight and disturb in equal measure.” – Frazer Lee, Bram Stoker Award finalist

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Watch for more upcoming Women in Horror pieces and/or go to view schedule of pieces from previous years HERE. If you would like to feature a woman in horror ANYTIME of the year on my site by doing an interview with them or an article, please contact me.

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Interview: Sara Tantlinger on Serial Killer H.H. Holmes, Writing Poetry, and Why We Love Horror #HookonWiHM #WIHMX

Today is the second part of a two-part interview I’ve conducted with horror writer and poet Sara Tantlinger, the first being about writing and publishing at The Horror Tree, a site that focuses on being a horror author’s resource. Additionally, I had this interview scheduled and ready to post today as part of my #HookonWiHM series for the 10th anniversary of Women in Horror Month, but I had to come back to edit my interview to offer my congratulations to Sara as it was announced this weekend she secured a Bram Stoker Award nomination for best poetry collection for The Devil’s Dreamland, which we will be discussing below!

I was beyond excited to read The Devil’s Dreamland, which I devoured with a carnal interest I am almost ashamed to admit. It’s a marvelous collection. Most readers know I have a bachelor’s degree in history and LOVE it, as well as am obsessed with learning about true crime and serial killers, so this collection was right up my alley. I’ve always been intrigued with H.H. Holmes, who after coming to Chicago, changed his given name to take on the Holmes, I’ve heard, as a homage to Sherlock Holmes (the fictional detective named by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his famous stories). But I’m more interested in the psychology of how people turn out to be serial liars, thieves, and murderers, especially when they come from so-called religious households or if there was speculation of abuse.

I’m thrilled to talk to Sara about her interest in H.H. Holmes, her research, her writing – particularly in poetry form, and so much more. I think this will appeal to a wide range of readers I have coming to my site – history or true crime enthusiasts, horror fanatics, and those who write or read poetry. I hope you ALL enjoy it as much as I did!!

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H.H. Holmes / Photo from Wikipedia

Hi Sara, and welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I am so glad to have you here with us. It’s snowy and freezing in both our neck of the woods these days. Shall we have some coffee to start? How do you take yours? And I’ll just pull out some warm cinnamon rolls from the oven. It will just be a minute while I frost them.

Sara: Hi Erin! Thank you so much for having me. Mm, cinnamon rolls are one of my favorites! I’ll throw a dash of vanilla creamer in my coffee and be all set.

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Erin: Now that I sound very much like a 1950s housewife, it’s the time I pull out the knife and stab the cinnamon roll…just kidding. But we are here to discuss your newest poetry collection today, The Devil’s Dreamland, and your work in horror. It’s Women in Horror Month so what better time for this all to come together.

Sara: Ha! A lot of my baking ends up with someone, I mean, something getting stabbed. I love Women in Horror Month – it’s so fun to highlight what these amazing ladies in horror are up to. I’m thrilled to be here talking about The Devil’s Dreamland and more!

Erin: I agree. Let’s get started. I’m anxious to hear about the notorious serial killer H.H. Holmes and your desire to write about him for your new poetry collection, which released late last year. What motivated you?

Sara: Well, I really wanted to do something different than my first poetry collection. I watched a documentary on H.H. Holmes, ended up going to a haunted house that was Holmes-themed, and found myself wondering more about the madman after reading Devil in the White City, so it felt like the universe kept giving me signs to write this collection.

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Sara with her collection! Photo provided by Sara Tantlinger.

Erin: Just who was H.H. Holmes? How did you go about researching his life and times before you started writing the collection? What interesting things did you come across?

Sara: H.H. Holmes was born Herman Webster Mudgett, and he was an expert conman and liar. Thus, pinning down who exactly he was is nearly impossible. The accounts of his life conflict, even the memoir he wrote in prison is saturated in idyllic lies. The research was fascinating though. I am now the owner of an ungodly number of books about H.H. Holmes, so my library looks pretty sinister right now. I read just about everything that mentioned Holmes, but even after publishing the collection I learned of MORE research out there involving him.

In addition to historical texts and more fictionalized versions of Holmes, I researched newspapers from his time period, read his own writing (a prison memoir and confession), and even found some records of the court hearings and testimonies that occurred before he was executed.

It was all interesting to me, but I think one of the things that fascinated me the most was that he left his “wives” (there were three, but only one of the marriages was legal) alive. He murdered mistresses and other women, but his three wives and two children, he let alone. He let them live.

Erin: Wow – I didn’t know he was a polygamist, and yes, that is peculiar that his murderous endeavors didn’t carry over with this wives as well!

Of course, writing poetry is very different than writing a book, something most people might think you’d do when researching a serial killer’s life. Why did you choose poetry? Was it difficult to condense into poetry? What was your process in telling your story with your poetry?

Sara: There are a ton of books out there on H.H. Holmes, but I did not see any other poetry collections in existence about the man, so I thought it’d be interesting to try something different. Even when I first had the idea, I knew it’d be my next poetry collection.

There was some difficultly condensing all that I wanted to include down into poems because I probably could have added another 100 poems to the batch about everything Holmes did or tried to do, but I wanted to keep some mystery. Otherwise, poetry allowed me to serve up these jagged slivers of tales because poetry demands that each word counts. Every rhythm, line, image, and more must be sharpened down into what needs to be there without an excess, otherwise the poem loses its ability to puncture wound itself into your mind and fester.

From there, my process became telling a cohesive narrative through the poems and different viewpoints included. I wanted the story to make sense, and I wanted the reader to think about each piece, but at the same time some enigma needed to be kept because that is who Holmes was, a mystery never meant to be completely solved.

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H.H. Holmes. Photo provided by Sara Tantlinger.

Erin: What was the intent you had in mind for readers to walk away with once reading The Devil’s Dreamland? What did you walk away with after writing it?

Sara: I wanted to create a poetry collection that appealed to both regular readers of poetry and those who may be more skeptical. I wrote the collection in a more narrative style, going through Holmes’ life and including different viewpoints from his accomplice, victims, and others.

After writing it, I walked away with pride, which is something I don’t always allow myself to do. Writers, don’t constantly chastise yourself and your hard work! That’s something I am still working on, but with Holmes, I just put so much into that book that I finally let myself feel the sweet sense of accomplishment as it ended.

I also walked away with the Devil whispering sweet, bloody nothings into my head, but, that’s a different story…

Erin: Ha! Many reviewers felt you were able to mix the morbid, grotesque, and horror with the beauty of your words quite nicely, leaving them satisfied with the collection by the end, when you’d think, mostly they’d be unnerved. What drives people to want to read about the macabre, and within writing, what does a writer need to do to soften it “just enough.”

Sara: Hmm, that’s a good question. Personally speaking, I love the macabre because it’s like this grotesque mirror reflecting our most morbid curiosities back at us, inviting us to reach inside ourselves and pull out that darkness to share with others. Bonding with those who share that fascination makes our weirdness feel more “socially acceptable,” but also allows us to build a really cool, twisted community.

I don’t usually try to soften my work because I like working with raw, gritty ideas and images. That said, I have personal boundaries with certain things I would never write about – things I just do not see a need to write about, or to read about, but of course that’s all personal preference. Otherwise, I definitely encourage writers, women especially, to push boundaries and write the stories they really want to, even if that means some people are going to hate it.

Erin: What was something that shocked or surprised you in your research or something you didn’t end up including (or both)?

Sara: I was mostly surprised at how H.H. Holmes was able to get away with the fraud he did for so long. It worked in the 1800s, but what he did would never work today. He really thought everything through in terms of his cons, seductions, murders, and the construction of the Murder Castle. I think that is partly what intrigued me so much about him, how he was able to escape punishments and debts by using his words. Talk about the power that words can hold…

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Murder Castle in Chicago / Image from Wikipedia

Erin: Do you enjoy reading or watching TV or movies about serial killers? If so, what other things did you find interesting? (I am obsessed with watching and reading about true crime!)

Sara: I am definitely infused with some sick curiosities when it comes to learning about serial killers or other strange murders (I binged Making a Murderer way too quickly). I think it’s this morbid vicariousness that allows us to peek into the darkest parts of humanity without bloodying our own hands or souls. The Zodiac killer is another one I continue to be fascinated by – it’s hard to describe why we want to know these gruesome crimes and facts. Maybe we feel like we’re part of the mystery and are amateur sleuths helping to solve something.

Erin: Now that you explored mixing historical true crime with horror poetry, do you think you might try one again? Why or why not?

Sara: I don’t think I would want to do something too similar to the Holmes collection, so if there’s other inspiration I come across and I mix those genres again, I’d go for it. In the meantime, however, I really want to try new things and challenge myself in other ways.

Erin: Earlier in 2017 you also released Love for Slaughter, which is perfect to bring up since February is also the month of love. You slashed and slayed and bit and bled in this one and people loved every minute of it. Can you tell me your thoughts behind it and what went into it? You’re such a nice person, where does all that dark passion come from?

Sara: Love For Slaughter was inspired by this idea that something as beautiful as love can actually be really vicious and bloody. I researched the idea of Folie à Deux (madness shared by two), and read stories about couples doing terrible things to each other, all these crimes of passion, so to speak. I always love playing around with something pure and asking myself how I can slash it up into gory, ghastly bits. I think my interest in dark passion stems from a love of dark literature like Wuthering Heights and The Awakening, or even The Picture of Dorian Gray – they show these darker parts of love and what it can do to an individual who loses parts of themselves for the sake of love, or for the sake of a perceived love. There is something universal about heartbreak, so I wanted to bring that out in my poetry in all the most twisted ways.

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Love for Slaughter. Photo provided by Sara Tantlinger.

Erin: I love those books too! What is it about people, do you think, that they appreciate the dark corners of horror, love, and life? What makes them feed on your imagery and words?

Sara: Sometimes reading horror feels like you’re getting away with something. There’s a thrill lurking in those depraved corners, inviting all of us to imagine the worst parts of humanity without committing the acts ourselves. To me, it feels natural to feed off that black spark of forbidden excitement, and that’s one of the reasons I write horror.

On the other side of that, horror is a place of cathartic writing. There are stories where we can share our phobias, grief, heartache, and more with each other. Being able to write about these aspects and provide human connection through tales of horror is a really special thing.

Erin: How do you feel about the state of women who write in horror? Is it improving, what needs improved, thoughts on how to improve readership and support of women?

Sara: Women are doing amazing things right now, and always, in the horror genre. I do feel like publishers, editors, and so forth are doing better to use their positions to seek out more diversity in the market, but nothing is perfect yet. There are still battles to be fought, and I have no doubt women will keep prevailing through these obstacles. The most important thing we can do is support each other, recognize our allies, do better to support minorities and women of color in horror, and continue to create the work we truly want to be creating and sharing.

Erin: Who are some of your female influences in prose or poetry and why?

Sara: Oh gosh there are so many! I’m going to try and limit myself here. A classic inspiration for me comes from Kate Chopin. The Awakening profoundly changed how I think about life, and from there I consumed Chopin’s writing and was so happily lost in her beautiful words. She captures this dark honesty of the female spirit in her stories, which isn’t surprising given the things she went through in life, but she fought for her independence. She inspires me all the time.

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A contemporary poet whom I adore is Sierra DeMulder. Her books destroy me. She’s another brutally honest writer, using unique, vivid imagery in her poems to unabashedly address womanhood, sexuality, love, loss, and more. I admire her greatly and highly encourage anyone to watch the videos of her reading her poetry live. It gives me goosebumps every time.

Erin: What about overall influences, mentors, inspirations in reading and writing?

Sara: Some other influences and inspirations for my writing would have to include (classic) Edgar Allan Poe, William Blake, Sylvia Plath, and Walt Whitman; and (contemporary) Linda Addison, Mike Arnzen, Clive Barker, Caroline Kepnes, Gillian Flynn, and Catherynne Valente.

Erin: There are a lot of women writers out there purging so many past issues on paper, instead of hiding them away. I’m glad writing can give them this platform. Why do you think women are continually the “monster collectors” and “dragon slayers” so to speak? What in their personalities allows them to write with such clarity and how do you teach young writers to channel the passion into focused work?

Sara: I think our history as women, our fight for equality and representation, all that we have endured collectively, are elements deeply rooted in our brains and very blood. The fight of our ancestors and our fights today to make our voices heard and respected is what makes us so driven to purge out the inner turmoil on paper with raw, visceral imagery and emotion. This is something unique to us that can never be manufactured. I hope young writers today continue to feed off that energy and wield it as a powerful weapon within their words and stories. I encourage them to keep telling their truths no matter who it may anger along the way because we got your back, my horror sisters.

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Erin: I know that you’re editing an anthology that is filled completely with women for StrangeHouse books. Can you tell us a little about that – the idea, the process, the title, etc. When can we expect it?

Sara: Yes! The anthology is titled Not All Monsters and is being planned for a 2020 release. I can’t say too much yet (I’m also still narrowing down the stories I want), but over the next few months the final TOC will be revealed as we spotlight the individual authors who will have stories in the anthology.

But from what I’ve read, and from the stories I’ve fallen in love with, this is going to be an anthology that empowers women of horror so much through its words, and I am ecstatic about that.

Erin: What’s next for you? Will you write a novel or short story collection or stick to poetry?

Sara: Well, you may be seeing more prose from me this year if all goes to plan. Otherwise, I am planning on sticking to my current historical horror WIP about Ranavalona I of Madagascar. There will absolutely be more poetry in my future, but I’m not sure what theme I’ll focus on for the next collection. I can’t wait to find out when it hits me.

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Queen of Madagascar – Ranavalona I / Image from Wikipedia

Erin: The historical horror work sounds amazing. I can’t wait to read it. Thank you so much for joining me for coffee and the chat, Sara. I know there is so much more I could ask you but you’re a busy gal! You’ll have to come back again sometime soon. 

Sara: Thank you, Erin! I have enjoyed your questions and the coffee so much!

Sara Tantlinger Biography –

Tantlinger_2019Sara Tantlinger resides outside of Pittsburgh on a hill in the woods. Her dark poetry collections Love for Slaughter and The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes are published with StrangeHouse books. She is a poetry editor for the Oddville Press, a graduate of Seton Hill’s MFA program, a member of the SFPA, and an active member of the HWA.

Sara’s poetry, flash fiction, and short stories can be found in several magazines and anthologies, including the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. II and V, the Horror Zine, Unnerving, Abyss & Apex, the 2018 Rhysling Anthology, 100 Word Horrors, and the Sunlight Press. Currently, Sara is editing Not All Monsters, an anthology that will be comprised entirely of women who write speculative fiction. The anthology is set for a 2020 release with StrangeHouse Books.

She embraces all things strange and can be found lurking in graveyards or on Twitter @SaraJane524 and find out more about Sara at her website!

Sara’s Latest Collection –

TDDThe Devil’s Dreamland

H.H. Holmes committed ghastly crimes in the late 19th century. Many of which occurred within his legendary “Murder Castle” in Chicago, Illinois. He is often considered America’s first serial killer.

In her second book of poetry from Strangehouse Books, Sara Tantlinger (Love For Slaughter) takes inspiration from accounts and tales which spawned from the misdeeds of one Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. Fact and speculation intertwine herein, just as they did during the man’s own lifetime.

There’s plenty of room in the cellar for everyone in The Devil’s Dreamland.

“…chilling poetry…” —Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of “How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend” and HWA Lifetime Achievement Award winner

“…morbidly creative and profound crime documentary…one of the best works of horror poetry I’ve read in years.” —Michael Arnzen, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Grave Markings and Play Dead

“…fascinating and absolutely riveting…powerful and vivid prose…will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.”—Christina Sng, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Collection of Nightmares

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And don’t forget to check out my first interview with Sara at The Horror Tree, in which we focus on writing and publishing. 

For more #HookonWiHM, or women in horror, here on Oh, for the Hook of a Book!, go HERE.

 

 

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