I'm going to interpret this as a "recent body of work" question, for reasons that will be immediately apparent. My most recent novel, Silver Moon (Queen of Swords Press, 2017) is about a woman who discovers that she turns into a werewolf as she enters menopause. It's more dark fantasy, with some horror and romance elements, than traditional horror. But there are werewolves, lots of werewolves, a whole pack of menopausal ones, in fact! There’s also a sequel in progress that will have more horror and mystery elements in it.
I can remember reading Bram Stoker's Dracula when I was about twelve and being so absorbed that when my mother came from work, I didn't hear her come in. She popped her head around the corner, said, "Hi" and I screamed.
Who do you consider the King and Queen of horror fiction?
Shirley Jackson and Stephen King
Greatest horror film (adapted from a book) & why?
I have a terrible fondness for dubious adaptations and can’t decide between the Dracula film version from 1979, starring Frank Langella, and Victor Frankenstein (2015), more or less associated with Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein. Are they great adaptations? Debatable. But they are gloriously fun movies to watch and retain some of the spirit of the works that inspired them so that makes them appealing to me.
Horror book that you’d like to see adapted to film & why?
I’m looking forward to the forthcoming film version of We Have Always Lived in the Castle because I love the book and I’m hoping that the movie does it justice. It’s a very visual, very creepy story and I think it would translate well to the screen.
Best horror TV?
The first two seasons of Penny Dreadful, hands down. The show had great Gothic style and unforgettable characters. I also enjoyed the storylines. I’m a big fan of Gothic-style horror and I thought they did a fine job of recreating that feel.
Did you write in other genres or straight to horror?
I do! I also write fantasy, science fiction, nonfiction and a bit of mystery under my own name, as well as writing romance and erotica as Emily L. Byrne.
Tell us briefly about your route to being published
I didn’t start writing fiction until I was in my early 30s and attending law school. I discovered that utter misery made me telekinetic—dishes would slide off the counter and smash on the floor whenever I walked into the kitchen. My spouse suggested I do some writing for fun, I wrote my first short story (historical romance), got an acceptance letter a few weeks later and quit law school a day or two later. After that, I wrote a lot of short fiction, mostly erotica, as well as other genres, for wide range of publications for several years. Then I had a couple of short fiction collections published, went on to edited two anthologies and saw my first novel published. I started writing gaming tie-ins last year and expect to be writing more of those in the future. All of that took about twenty years and includes publications in six genres, including horror.
Tell us about your fans
They’re wonderful and I appreciate them a lot! Fans are essential to my writing career: they encourage me, give me feedback, positive and negative, when I need it, and inspire me to keep going. They’re writers and readers, critics and fans and I’m grateful for all of them.
Horror doesn’t seem to be as well respected as other genres of fiction. Why do you think that is?
Well, considering that I started out writing erotica, horror is pretty close to respectable. I think it depends on which part of the genre you’re talking about, as well as which part of the world. Guillermo del Toro has a show touring major museums in the U.S. while Stephen King’s It is one of the most popular movies right now. Dark fantasy and new weird and other subgenres cross over into horror and blur the genre lines, and there are some popular urban fantasy series that use a lot of horror elements, for example. So I think respect is definitely out there, but perhaps some subgenres and some media are less popular at the moment than others.
Do you think horror is ready for a renaissance?
I think that popularity and mainstream acceptance of fiction genres are cyclical and I think horror is already having a renaissance. I see ghost stories, monster movies, books by prominent horror writers and new horror writers, all over the place (speaking for the U.S. here). I hope it’s not limited to us!
Tips for new writers of horror fiction.
1. Read critically. Read lots of different writers and different kinds of fiction in addition to horror.
2. Experiment. Write in different settings, time periods, voices, genres.
3. Get in the habit of reading your work aloud and hearing how it sounds. It’s a great way to find errors and issues, as well as what works well.
Do you believe in evil?
What scares you?
Lots of things, but I think my fears are often of the more mundane sort, rather than the stuff of most horror fiction or film. I enjoy a fun scare, certainly, and my taste in that tends toward ghost stories. A good haunting always gets my pulse racing!
Do you celebrate Halloween?
We don’t have kids so we generally decorate the house a little and hand out candy to the neighbourhood kids. We also have several friends whose birthdays occur around Halloween so there are always costume parties to go to.
‘There’s always something horror-related or –themed in the zeitgeist – serial killers or sexy vampires or just plain old zombie rampages - even if it doesn’t always get the specific ‘horror’ label.’ Meet author Bartholomew Bennett