Tell us about your book (what’s the sales pitch?)
In the first full-length collection of her edgy, award-winning short stories, Loren Rhoads punctures the boundaries between horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction in a maelstrom of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. Ghosts, succubi, vampires, the Wild Hunt, and the worst predator in the woods stalk these pages, alongside human monsters who follow their cravings past sanity or sense.
If you could be a character in the book, who would you be and why?
I would want to be Violet in the story “Here There Be Monsters.” After she escapes the ghosts and monsters in the story, she has a really fascinating future ahead of her. I’m curious where that will take her.
What did you learn about writing by writing this book?
These stories were written over decades. “The Magic of Fire and Dawn,” the earliest one, was published originally in 1990. The newest one, “The Arms Dealer’s Daughter,” was published in Space & Time last year. I really love short stories. They’re sort of like balancing rocks: everything has to support its own weight and everything atop it as well. Move one element out of place and it all topples down. It’s easier to see the beauty in small constructions.
Do you have a set writing process, if so what is it?
I like to write longhand in a notebook. There’s something about the physicality of feeling the words in my fingers, arm, and shoulder, about the journey of my hand across the page, that makes magic feel possible. I can write at the computer, but it feels less real to me.
What’s one question you think would be really fun to answer, but has never been asked of you?
I’ve never been asked where the strangest place I’ve ever written has been. I’ve written in tents and hotel rooms, at a picnic table in Golden Gate Park and at café tables in Italy, at bars in New Orleans and in a chapel at a retreat center in Michigan. I’ve written at the Protestant Cemetery in Rome and in the Love Hotel district in Tokyo. I’m always looking for new, even stranger, places to write.
What made you choose to write your book as genre?
I don’t usually sit down to write a horror story or dark fantasy, but science fiction is usually intentional. For me, at least, it’s hard to drift into science fiction. For the horror stories, the literary stories, and the fantasies, the boundaries are fairly permeable. I wander across them all the time. Of course, everything — even the science fiction — has a dark sheen to it, because that’s just the way I am.
How much research did you do before writing the book and how did you go about it?
Different stories needed different amounts of research. I think the story that needed the most research was “Never Bargained for You,” about a succubus who meets a band very much like Led Zeppelin on the eve of their first American tour. I’d been reading the 33-1/3 book about Led Zeppelin IV, which talks a lot about the album’s magical underpinnings. That was my jumping-off point, but then I watched The Song Remains the Same and read about the Laurel Canyon music scene and researched shows at the Whisky a Go Go. It’s the only historical story in the book, so I wanted to get the details right.
I’ve written elsewhere about going to a cadaver lab to research the story “Valentine.” Here’s a link to that, if you’re interested: That was probably the most physically grueling research I did for this book.
Do you remember the first story you told? What was it?
The first one I had published was a Lovecraft pastiche about a cabin in the woods. Before that, I wrote a lot of fanfic. The earliest one of those stories was inspired by Peter Pan when I was a little kid. I wrote fanfic about Dark Shadows, Star Trek, and Star Wars, too.
What are you reading? Who do you think we should be reading (apart from you!)?
I’m reading for the Bram Stoker award nominations now. I’ve just started reading Slay: Stories of The Vampire Noire, edited by Nicole Givens Kurtz. I love vampire stories, so I’m really looking forward to that book.
In one sentence, what’s your best piece of advice for writers?
Ask yourself, “And then what happened?”
Loren Rhoads is the co-author of Lost Angels and Angelus Rose, about a succubus and her angel burning through LA. She’s also the author of a space opera trilogy called In the Wake of the Templars. Her newest book, Unsafe Words, is a collection of short stories.
Loren’s social media:
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/LorenRhoadsAuthor/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Loren-Rhoads/e/B002P905PE/
Automatism Press: http://automatismpress.com/
Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/3h8WAqd
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/unsafe-words-loren-rhoads/1137605973?ean=9781735187600
Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781735187600
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