Possession. EVP. Other dimensions. Ghosts. Aliens. And a few certain shall-remain-nameless story arcs from the DC universe. The world is filled with unexplained things. For many of us we believe in monsters, demons, and all kinds of things that go bump in the night. Writing about them can be a cathartic way of dealing with our fear. Others of us, like to chalk up mysterious happens to human created psychosis. I fall in the grey areas of these beliefs. I have experienced many strange things in my lifetime. Some of them easy to explain... some of them not. Our guest author today had a childhood fear of demonic possession. So what did she decide to write her first YA book about? You guessed it.
Before we get started, let's set the tone and scare the pants off a bunch of readers. WARNING: The following trailer will give you a serious untreatable case of the heebie jeebies.
For those of us that don't know you, can you tell me a bit of your background and what brought you to writing for YA?
What made you focus on writing thriller/horror/suspense? Can you talk to us about some of your influences in this genre?
GM - I'm a junky for a good mystery and anyone who can spin me along on a tenuous thread of suspense and expectation, turning the screws and upping the ante with every page. In fiction, Agatha Christie and Christopher Pike were huge influences on my writing and clean, direct style of storytelling. I also love Wilkie Collins, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Brontes, Daphne du Maurier, Diane Setterfield, Henry James and Edgar Allen Poe. And of course, the masterful cinematic storytelling of Alfred Hitchcock.
What scares you the most and do put those fears into your writing as a cathartic way of dealing with them?
GM - POSSESS addressed one of my personal fears: demonic possession. The Exorcist traumatized me as a child, so when I was thinking of scary topics for fiction, it was at the top of my list. Researching demonic possession throughout history and across cultural boundaries was incredibly interesting, and perhaps creating a character who was born to combat their evil was my way of easing the fear.
GM - There's an adrenaline release that goes along with being scared. The delicious promise of a "gotcha" moment: the way the hair stands up on the back of your neck, your heart racing from pure anticipation. And of course, the knowledge deep down, that it isn't actually happening to you. It allows us to experience something horrific without actually experiencing something horrific.
Current horror and thriller films have pushed the envelope as far as brutality - losing the element of true horror. How do we bring that audience to books and keep them scared?
GM - For me, horror isn't about blood splatter and body count. The "splatter porn" aspect of many modern horror franchises doesn't appeal to me. Truly fear-inducing moments to me are about ambiance, tone, stakes, and as I said earlier, the heart-stopping anticipation of what might happen around every turn, and behind every closed door. I'm more terrified by a scene where someone is walking alone in the woods, hearing noises and experiencing the acute sensation that someone or something is following them, rather than a bloody kill scene.
|The Strangers - 2008|
Agreed! I love the tension building. Although I have a soft spot for the over the top bloody moments like The Evil Dead.
What has changed for you being a writer now that you are published?
GM - The biggest change for me as been in how I write. I have deadlines now, other books to edit and promote while I'm drafting. It's more of a profession than a hobby, and I had to make that mental shift.
Your latest book TEN sounds dark and deelish. Can you give a snipet of it? When can we get our hands on it?
GM - TEN comes out on September 18th from Balzer + Bray. I'd share a teaser, but I swear it'll ruin it for you. Almost every chapter has a spoiler!
And - finally - when people ask you what is a great scary book to read, what do you tell them? Why?
GM - Hands down, my favorite scary book of all time is SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury. I haven't read much of his work because I'm not a huge sci fi fan, but this book scares the crap out of me. Creepiness drips from every page. A total masterpiece.
And the movie version...
I don't know about you but I am ready to exorcise my writing muscles. See what I did there? I highly recommend that you check out Gretchen's books if you haven't.
Thank you, Gretchen for visiting the asylum and letting us creep around the dark side with you. Until we meet again... in a dark alley. Muahahahahaha....