Thursday, October 29, 2020

Writing Horror for the First Time: An Interview with Mary Fan

  Last year, Crazy 8 Press and editor Bob Greenberger released Thrilling  Adventure Yarns: an anthology paying homage to classic pulp fiction stories. The anthology encompassed a variety of genres: Western, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Romance, Adventure, and Horror.  Fellow ATB blogger, Mary Fan, and I both contributed stories. I wrote a historical romance about a highway woman who falls for a French blockade runner during the American Revolution. Mary stepped a bit outside her comfort zone and wrote a western about a girl gunslinger.

The anthology was a hit, so Bob Greenberger and Crazy 8 Press decided to release a second volume of great pulp stories. He also invited me and Mary to contribute again. I stayed in my comfort zone with another historical romance set in the Classic Era of Hollywood. Mary challenged herself again to write outside her usual genres. This time she gave horror a try. Today she's here to talk to me about the new anthology and her experience with writing horror.

Karissa: So, let's get straight to it. Horror? But why?

Mary: I’ve written dark fantasy before — monsters, dark magic, etc — but never full blown HORROR horror, where your goal is to horrify your reader. Our very own resident horror writer Stephen Kozeniewski once mentioned that horror is the only genre named after an emotion. My stories, even the dark fantasy ones, tend to be about scrappy underdogs triumphing — I’ve never tried my hand at something that’s all about horrifying the reader and leaving them with an unsettled feeling. So I thought it would be an interesting challenge.

Horror is also one of the best mediums for extended metaphors and using your story to say something about the world or humanity. It’s all about what people fear, and the object of fear in horror often represents something visceral that the author fears, or that the author observes society fearing.

Karissa: Good point. On the surface, horror seems simple--it's about evoking feelings of fear and dread. But often horror explores social themes and fears, like you've said. Zombies exemplify the dangers of mindless consumerism, for example. I can only imagine the kind of horror stories that we'll see being inspired by the COVID pandemic. Can you tell us a little about your story for the anthology and the themes you're exploring (without giving too much away, of course!)?

Mary: My story, “They’ll Never Let You In”, is about an ambitious young woman who desperately wants to get into an elite club called the League — think country club full of CEOs, Pulitzer Prize winners, and other business and cultural elites — thinking it’ll help her break the glass ceiling. Little does she know that behind those hallowed, ivy-covered gates lies a dark secret...

The metaphor within it is about as subtle as a sledgehammer, ha ha. I don’t want to give away too much, but anyone who reads it should get it immediately.

Karissa: Now that you've tried your hand at it, think you'll be writing any more horror in the future?

Mary: While I enjoyed writing this story, I’m not sure how much horror I’ll write in the future... mostly because it left ME horrified too! I like giving my characters triumphant endings.

Karissa: You've offered a tuckerization as a reward option on the Kickstarter fund raiser for this anthology (see below for more info). Can you tell us what you're offering?

Mary: I am! Depending on who claims the Tuckerization, the character name up for grabs is either one of the main character’s friends or a victim of the supernatural forces at work...

As Mary and I just discussed, the production costs (paying authors, artists, book covers, illustrations, formatting, etc.) for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 are being covered through a Kickstarter campaign. We're almost to our first funding goal, but if we reach our stretch goal it'll help pay for original artwork (support an artist!) and other gifts and extras such as more stories from more authors, including an original story from the estate of Lester Dent (of Doc Savage fame)! Consider lending your support--just a few bucks make a big difference!

1 comment:

Phronk said...

They'll Never Let You In is such a great title! I can't wait to read the story.

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