Please tell me a little about yourself.
Well, I’m basically just a 25-year-old woman that writes when she isn’t pulling her hair out over excel spreadsheets.
I live in a small town in West Yorkshire, and I’ve spent most of my days dipping in and out of writing. In the past couple of years, I figured I rattle on about it too much not to share my work and take steps to get published. When I’m not writing, I’m probably zoning out with my headphones in and a playlist running or watching true crime documentaries. I also occasionally sketch, and love trips out to the coast.
Now for some questions.
Q1 When did you first begin the journey to becoming a writer and why chose dark fiction?
Since I was little, I’ve been writing on and off but I never really took it too seriously until I signed on for two English courses in college (kind of because I knew it would be an easy grade for me – work smarter, not harder, kids.) It was when I started working on my final assignments that I realised this was something I was going to get fixated with. I created a dialect-focused piece on drug addiction and another where a man murders his wife due to his rampant paranoia. Sunny stuff.
Then I took on a degree in Sociology and had all my motivation sucked out of me. I could hardly finish a single piece, dithered about with projects, would always doubt what I was doing and get fed up with it. As luck would have it, in my final year, I got to take an experimental course in Creative Writing – and I found my feet again.
I settled back at home, landed a beautifully mundane job in admin, and found more than a few friends to push me in the right direction. Finally started sharing my work in 2018, then this year I decided it was about time to look at getting published. I’ll still never forgive myself for all that wasted time at Uni, though.
In terms of the genre, if my college assignments didn’t give it away – I’ve always been miles more interested in anything depressing, disgusting or horrifying than I ever have with lighter topics. As someone who suffered mental health hiccups from an early age, and I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this, I found a lot of catharsis in writing about whatever sent my head spinning over the years. It was only natural that horror got dragged into the mix alongside my literary and satirical work.
It’s beyond therapeutic.
Q2 Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
Would it be cheeky to say I think nearly every book I’ve ever picked up, and every author I’ve stumbled across, has influenced me somehow?
I have got a huge soft spot for Shirley Jackson, though. The way she uses language, the way her work creeps up on you in all the right ways, makes you uncomfortable before it tries to frighten you – like something is just a fraction misaligned and wrong. That’s one thing I’ve wanted to let influence me, I think. Focusing on the disquiet in banal situations, not to be afraid of experimenting with language, to make things strangely beautiful before the horror kicks in.
Sylvia Plath moved me in some of the ways I’ve addressed specific topics in my work. Iain Banks lit a fire in my belly after I read The Wasp Factory in college because the conclusion left me speechless. I found a love in unreliable narrators and experimental language because of Anthony Burgess. Jeremy Robert Johnson nailed his short stories in Entropy in Bloom so successfully that I practically turned green with envy before jotting down notes.
I could rattle on for an age. Everything I’ve ever loved I feel like I’ve taken a mental note of and had it influence me for the better in the following years. I’m sure there’ll be hundreds more to come.
Q3 Do you think women’s horror has any unique qualities?
Of course! One of the things, I think, is just as simple and sweet as we see horror from a different angle.
We all have unique experiences within our own lives that come across in the work we produce one way or another, and it’s easy to spot in writing. Considering our genre, I think it’s especially potent when it comes to heavy emotions like fear, disgust or anxiety. Women’s concerns and life experiences are distinct and unique, and we can see it reflected within the genre. It provides readers with either a more tangible piece of work or an experience some haven’t witnessed before.
We’ve seen women’s roles within the genre shift. Monsters change. Reactions change. Perceptions change. Though the end result may be one solid, universal thing, the journey itself is vastly different – and that experience in horror will continue to grow and expand as we put a spotlight on authors from a range of other backgrounds, too.
Q4 Have YOU had any supernatural or unexplained experiences yourself? If so, have they/will they make it into your stories?
I am still sceptical, though. When I was around 7, we moved into my Grandad’s house after he passed away. My Mum kept waking up in the middle of the night to the bed dipping next to her. I kept seeing a tall man walking in and out of the bedrooms. One night, my Dad had to leave work under the pretence of a water leak (sorry, Dad) because I got so frightened I wouldn’t stop crying. Someone had been whispering my name over and over again while I was getting ready for bed.
Not long after we got a dog, a little Westie called Sassy. She had this thing of growling when we were teasing her. So, for example, when my Dad was putting his coat on for work, she’d watch him, he’d talk to her, and she’d growl because she knew he was leaving. Stopped being as cute when she did it unprovoked in the same corner of the room most nights, right where there used to be a set of seats against the wall, coincidentally, where my Grandad had his tea every day.
After that, about the scariest thing that happened was I started getting sleep paralysis, complete with hallucinations. Fun stuff! Oh, and there was a hearse parked outside our back garden for years – which is the central theme in the novel I’m chipping away at. It wouldn’t surprise me if I write about that old house one day, though, as fond as I was of the place, it could be a little unnerving.
But, in general, any occurrence in my life is fair game for story inspiration, supernatural or not. I had a bad coffee at work once and wrote a satirical piece on it, so that speaks volumes.
Q5 What is the best advice you have been given as a new writer or someone who is just breaking into the publishing world?
Stop overthinking what you’re doing. Don’t throw away your style to mimic other people because you think it’ll gain more traction. Stick to your guns but know when to acknowledge your weaknesses. Never throw away a piece of work you think isn’t working, because it’ll come in handy at some point.
If you love writing – write.
If you want to share your writing and have other people love it – submit that writing.
Q6 How do you think COVID-19 will affect the future of horror?
Aside from an influx of apocalyptic and plague-like scenarios in our writing? Keep the future as bright as we can, I hope.
Some people find it therapeutic to surround themselves in positivity, to find escapism in perfect worlds, or pretend bad things aren’t happening at all if they have to. But, there’s also a lot of people who find solace in horror at a time like this, and I’m one of them – that’s half the reason I write, most days.
I hope that with more people discovering that, more doors open for the horror genre, and we can take the smallest slither of something positive from what’s been a challenging time for many. We’ve seen little sparks of that with horror anthologies floating around in support of those affected by COVID-19.
Aside from that, I just hope the disruption this whole thing has had on smaller businesses doesn’t have lasting consequences in publishing, not to mention those trying to break into the genre in the current climate. It seems as though, in future, we may have to rely on electronic formats across all genres, more than we initially thought.
But, who knows? All we can do is keep plodding on.
Q7 What is your writing dream goal? Is there someone you would love to collab with, would you like to do a screenplay? What is it that drives you?
If I’m honest, I’m a pensioner in a 25-year-olds body, so if I get to the point where I can support myself enough to work part-time and write through the rest of the day, I’m taking that win and running to the hills.
Half-jokes aside, I’d love to be part of a collaboration at some point. I’ve no real names floating in my head, but I just like the idea of having different things to work on and to challenge myself a little. Being able to share that experience with another author would be a lot of fun for me, I think.
In terms of what drives me, it’s just that writing is my irritating fascination. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing with my time. It makes me a sense of purpose and it soothes me when I feel like garbage.
But, yeah, there’s no real end goal for me. I’ll just keep on going until I’m pushing up daisies, then we can stop and see how far I managed to get.
Q8 What is next for you? Feel free to plug away anything you are working on.
Trying to get my work out there as much as I physically can with the time I have.
I’m terms of current projects I’m smack bang in the middle of working on a novella – Winner, Winner. It’s a jolly little story about a simple man named Jack, who discovers that his obsession with gameshows is creating disastrous ripples in the world around him. My short-term goal is getting this finished off, cleaned up, and then putting feelers out to give this bizarre tale a home.
I’ve also got an abundance of short stories in the works, like mythical temptresses dissolving into obscene and mangled aquatic monsters, bodies slowly becoming human bouquets, the universe staring back from the underside of a bridge, trilling in a strange, soothing voice. More than likely, I’ll kick around a few flash pieces as well, I’m quite fond of them.
Oh, yeah, and I’m working on a book.
You can find all my little updates and announcements on my website if you’re interested. Or have a chat with me on Twitter. I’ll probably ramble about my work there, too.
Thank you so much to Demi! Please make sure you go follow her everywhere as she is so lovely.
I will be posting lots of interviews with these amazing ladies so be sure to keep checking out the blog.
And, as always, sleep well …