What draws you to write in the horror genre?
It’s a good place to put my darkest emotions, my deepest cynicisms, without really feeling hopeless since the supernatural isn’t real. To write about such darkness in a realistic story would likely depress me further, but in a supernatural tale it can be sad without being totally dispiriting. It can entertain.
While reading “The Garbage Doll,” one of the dominant emotions that jumped out at me was regret. Do you see this as being a story about opportunities lost?
I have written a series of tales with “Jessica” as protagonist obviously inviting people to think the character is me. In these stories I express a mixture of stuff that could well be autobiographical, together with jokes against myself, and stuff as totally imaginary as with any story without Jessica appearing as a character. I hadn’t noted regret as a feature of this particular example, but more a matter of meaninglessness. The greatly successful, the lowest failure, are equally going to die after a short time.
What is it about marionettes, and dolls generally, that we find so creepy and haunting?
Anything that resembles us in any way is going to be dangerous and frightening.
In addition to writing, you also spent many years as an editor. Are you still editing? Would you say editing changed your approach to writing or vice versa?
Most of my editing the last few years has been collections of Victorian to WWI authors, and the intent has been to recover and preserve weird short stories of the past. These authors do at times influence my own work. Previously I’d done anthologies and magazines with many new stories and the intent was to cultivate new generations of authors who share my respect and love for the genre.
What are you working on now?
I’m always working on ten things at once, some not finished for years. This week I’ve been tinkering with a novelette I hope to finish for an editor who requested it, very worried it is giving me too much trouble to finish soon; have written a handful of new poems, either weird, whimsical, or both, and really like the latest one that begins with “Jemima Mae was a catfish twenty-three hours a day.” It’s the twenty-fourth hour that counts. And I’m working on reviews of various poets’ recent collections. I spent one day messing around with “The Apocalypse of Eve,” a highly mystic fantasy series of connected poems-in-prose adding up to a novella; it may be too odd ever to find publication.
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