“Deeply, Deeply Disturbing” – an interview with Women of Horror Alma Katsu

I am extremely excited to present to you my interview with the extremely talented and simply lovely, Alma. The Hunger is one of the BEST books I have read for a long time and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes historical horror.

Without further ado …

When did you start writing?

Like most writers, I guess I was always a writer. I started writing short stories when I was a teenager. Really bad short stories. Then I became a stringer for a newspaper while still in high school and continued newspaper work even after I accepted a job with the Defense Department. I had to stop writing outside of work—it was in intelligence and they didn’t like that sort of thing—and didn’t write fiction again until 2000, after 15 years away. I decided it was time to really learn how to write a novel. I spent 10 years working on what would be my first published book, The Taker.

What made you chose horror, it is sometimes regarded as a particularly hard genre to break into?

I’m actually a bit surprised that The Hunger was embraced so warmly by the horror community. I think of it as more mainstream fiction, or cross-genre. It’s not what some people would think of when they hear “horror”. But that’s indicative of what’s happening in horror these days: it’s broadening from more traditional horror. You’re seeing horror elements in a lot of stories, particularly suspense. Just these little elements to make you wonder if something supernatural or otherworldly is going on. 

Do you do a lot of research for your work? 

I do a TON of research for these historical horror novels. But I try to be efficient about it. Take the Titanic, which is the setting for most of my next novel, The Deep. To say there is a lot of existing research on the Titanic is an understatement, not to mention a legion of people who are completely gaga over it and will be looking for mistakes. It’s in the back of your mind as you do your research. However, I have been a professional researcher for over 30 years and so it’s probably not as daunting for me as it might be for some folks.

I have my own little rules for writing historical fiction, too. Because these stories are re-imaginings, I hope it’s fairly clear to readers that they’re not going to faithfully follow the historic record, but then it’s up to the author to decide where you adhere to fact and where you’re allowed to stray.

If The Hunger was made into a movie, who would you like to see cast in the main roles? 

That’s a little tough, because I don’t watch a lot of movies or television these days. Readers do seem to like to match actors to characters, so I’m looking forward to hearing their picks. I often put up a board on Pinterest for their suggestions. I always find some good new actors to follow this way, too.

Who are your writing influences?

Growing up, it was probably the authors you’d expect: Edgar Allan Poe, Shirley Jackson. (I’m old.) Also, I thought I’d be a literary writer, not so much in commercial fiction (where I am now) so I studied more in that vein when I was in college. 

There are many current authors I admire, of course. Laura Lippmann, the mystery writer, is one of my current favorites. Denise Mina, a Scottish mystery writer, is another. They’re both authors that other authors can learn from, and they make it seem easy. Kelly Link, who writes speculative fiction. Josh Malerman, whom most people think of as horror but seems more in the speculative fiction camp (to me, at the moment, anyway). Keith Donohue, who writes speculative fiction with fantastical elements.

Have you had any supernatural/unexplained experiences yourself?

I often say I grew up in the spookiest town in New England, and there are a lot of towns vying for that honor! So many cemeteries and funeral parlors! I lived in a very spooky Victorian as a child. In hindsight I see that the house just needed a lot of work, but at the time it seemed strange things were happening all the time. I think that’s just the way our minds work when we’re young and we’re experiencing so many things for the first time.

What are you reading right now?

With the success of The Hunger, I’ve been lucky enough to get asked to blurb a lot, and I just gone through a glut of reading. For those who liked my first book, The Taker—a star-crossed love that spans centuries, that sort of thing—there’s a book coming out in February by a fine debut author, Constance Sayers, A Witch in Time

Next up is the advance reader copy of Danielle Trussoni’s first novel in a few years, The Ancestor. I’ve heard great things about it and I can’t wait to dig in. It’s coming out in April.

What is next for you?

 My next book is The Deep, coming out March 10th in the U.S. It has a few things in common with The Hunger: it’s a re-imagining of a famous event in history, in this case the sinkings of both the Titanic and its sister ship the Britannic. It’s different in that it’s a little more romantic. It’s the story of a young woman who gets involved in the strange goings-on troubling some of the passengers on the Titanic. Four years later, on the Britannic, now converted to a hospital ship for the war, she finds that the terror didn’t end with the sinking of that famous ship: if anything, it has followed her.




My website: http://www.almakatsubooks.com

I hope that you enjoyed my interview with Alma. Go and follow her and @ us on Twitter if you love The Hunger too. And as always, sleep well …

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