Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a quiet homemaker with a penchant for killing people on paper. The less homicidal version is that I’m a displaced northerner in sweaty St. Louis where I live with my husband, our three young children, a grumble of pugs, and two extremely chirpy guinea pigs. As you can probably tell, I love animals, and one of my favorite things to do is watch the woods behind my house and see what wildlife (and occasional monster) slinks out from between the trees. Every Saturday, I volunteer at a horse stable for disabled riders. My husband is scared of me and wouldn’t have it any other way.
I blame my mother, God rest her soul. She raised me on a steady diet of the dark and mysterious and Gothic. I have distinct memories of her reading the works of Poe to me before I myself could read. She stayed up late to watch “Tales from the Darkside,” and the eerie theme music alone scared the hell out of me. And yet there was a taboo about horror. Walking around the bookstore and looking at the Stephen King covers gave me chills because those books weren’t for me…yet. Then at the video store, when such things weren’t called Netflix, my friend Dorothy and I would always go to the horror section and see what cover images stirred up the greatest anticipation of a scare, feelings of uneasiness and revulsion. Those are the feelings I’ve always been drawn to writing about ever since.
What horror scene stayed with you and why?
I was very little, maybe about four or five years old, and my parents were putting up a Christmas tree while I was in my mother’s bedroom watching the movie she’d left on. It was “An American Werewolf in London.” I remember knowing I shouldn’t watch it, so I crawled to the opposite side of the bed, ducked down to the floor, and peered over the edge to see the main character running naked through the woods. And then he stumbled upon himself in a hospital bed and suddenly had a werewolf face. It was so disturbing that it gave me nightmares for years.
Many books have had scenes that stayed with me, but I will always recall the first time I read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and learned what the lottery was.
Are there any horror projects you’re looking forward to?
Of course, I am thrilled to death to read INSOMNIA, BETWEEN THE DEVIL & THE DEEP BLUE SEA, and SHUTTER. I’ve been lucky to have read a couple of versions of MARY already. But I also really love about anything Joe Hill, Melissa Marr, and Neil Gaiman put out.
Are you writing horror currently or will you be? If so, tell us about it!
I primarily write Gothic horror, be it both classical or Southern, and it’s been my favorite genre since I began writing my own novels nearly twenty years ago. My current project is a Southern Gothic horror/thriller set in the Ozarks was inspired in part by Belly’s song, “Someone to Die For” and the murder ballad, “Down In the Willow Garden.”