The One That Got Away – Kandisha Press vol 3. Interview with Gwendolyn Kiste.

It is finally February 1st 2021 and the official release day for The One That Got Away. And of course, it is Women in Horror Month!

We are celebrating the launch of our amazing book and we hope that you will join us!

We can’t wait to see some reviews coming in and are so grateful to each and every person who takes the time to read and share their thoughts.

During February, both I and Jill will be sharing interviews, spotlights and videos will all of the ladies from the anthology. And since this is Day One, what better way to kick it off than by welcoming the wonderful Gwendolyn Kiste who wrote a beautiful foreword for us.

Enjoy.

When did you start writing? Is it a career you have always wanted to pursue or did you just fall into it? 

Gwendolyn Kiste: I’ve been writing pretty much my whole life. As a kid, I used to love creating little picture books out of typing paper that I’d staple together. It was definitely the career I had in mind when I was younger. Then as I got into middle school and high school, I started drifting away from fiction writing, only because I was too concerned about all the rejection I’d face. I didn’t think I could handle it, and when I was that age, I really couldn’t. I went to school for psychology, and I also did independent films for a while, so I was still writing, only scripts instead of books. Eventually, after finishing my Master’s degree in psychology, I decided to risk the rejection, so I came back to fiction writing, and I haven’t looked back since. 

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

GK: Horror has always been my favorite genre. Both my parents are fans, so I grew up on a steady diet of Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, and Hammer films. I always knew that if I was going to write, then it would have be in the horror genre. That’s where my heart has always been. I never really thought particularly about how hard of a genre horror is to break into; it was just what I loved, so it made the most sense to go in that direction. 

What unique qualities do you feel that women bring to the genre? 

GK: Horror is a genre that uniquely speaks to those who are outsiders, and women are far too often treated as outsiders. We also are intimately familiar with body horror in a way many men aren’t. Our bodies can produce life, and let’s face it: pregnancy and childbirth can be incredibly scary. Add to that the fact that many people don’t want us to have bodily autonomy to begin with, and women have such an intimate relationship with horror in all its forms that it’s really no surprise we’re so good at writing horror. We’re made for this genre. 

How important are women only presses like Kandisha for inclusion of female voices? 

GK: I feel like women-only presses can be so pivotal in ensuring that female voices are heard. It’s so important for underrepresented voices to have their work published, and presses like Kandisha are making sure that happens. It was truly such an honor to write the foreword for The One That Got Away: Women of Horror Anthology Volume 3. I can’t wait for everyone to read all the amazing stories included! 

If one of your stories was made into a movie, who would you like to see cast in the main roles? 

GK: If my novel, The Rust Maidens, was ever made into a movie, I would absolutely love to see Winona Ryder play the protagonist Phoebe Shaw in the 2008/modern section of the book. She’s exactly how I imagined adult Phoebe. Plus, really, who doesn’t love Winona Ryder? It would just be the coolest thing to see her cast in a film based on my work. Beyond that, I’m fairly open to casting ideas for other characters, but Winona would be so great in that lead role. 

Who are your own writing influences? What have they taught you about your work?

GK: Shirley Jackson and Angela Carter are two authors I always come back to. Shirley Jackson’s ability to dig deep into the human psyche has always fascinated me while Angela Carter’s way of retelling familiar stories like the fairy tales in her collection The Bloody Chamber is absolutely fascinating and astounding to me. Both of them have taught me the importance of pushing yourself in your work and finding new ways of exploring a story and exploring yourself through your fiction. 

Have you had any supernatural or unexplained experiences yourself? If so, will they make it into any of your stories?

GK: I’ve had a number of odd things happen to me over the years. One of my favorites is a recurring one: in our house, we’ve got what we call “Third Cat,” a little spectral feline that appears out of the corner of our eye. Both my husband and I have seen Third Cat, and we describe him as being a grayish cat that is most decidedly not our brown tabby McQueen or our calico Rose of Sharon. Third Cat seems pretty chill for the most part and isn’t nearly as vocal as our other two cats, so we’re cool with him hanging around. 

Another ghostly experience happened right after I finished the title story in my first collection. After a very long and intense writing session, I walked away from my computer and went out into the hallway, and there at the top of the steps was this pale pillar of light. We just stared at each other for a minute (and I was very sure that it was indeed staring back), and then it dissolved. It’s funny, because I know there have been other strange things that have happened to me over the years, but unexplained phenomenon just blend into the background of my life sometimes. Like, “oh yeah, strange thing happened this morning, but now it’s time to go about my day.” I bet I’m not the only horror writer who feels that way, though! As for any of the experiences making it into my work, maybe! I don’t have a plan for that now, but it might end up in a story at some point down the road. 

What is next for you?

GK: Right now, I’m working on my next novel, Reluctant Immortals, which will be out in 2022 from Saga Press, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. The story will follow Lucy Westenra from Dracula and Bertha Antoinetta Mason from Jane Eyre as they fight back against being erased from their own stories, as well as dealing with Dracula and Edward Rochester who have resurfaced in a very dangerous way in their lives. The book is set in 1967 California, during the Summer of Love, and it basically involves everything I adore—Gothic literature, historical horror, the 1960s, strong female friendships—so I’m super excited for everyone to read this one.

What a start to our author/contributor series of interviews! Please make sure that you are following Gwendolyn and keep a look out for that next novel!

Keep a look out for the spotlights on the Kandisha Press website and socials.

Thank you all and stay spoooooooky …

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