One of the lines that really spoke to me in “Cadaver Dogs” was: “Or maybe it makes them into something they already contained at their core and just drags it out into the open, raw and writhing, for everyone to see.” This is an exquisite gateway line that warns the reader there are even darker things ahead. How aware are you of the tiny details and moods when crafting a story? Do lines like that come to you in the first draft, or are they polished along the way?
That line in particular is actually one Wendy helped me tweak! Usually, those are second draft lines, written right after I’ve got the bare-bones story mapped out. Those are my favorite kinds of lines to write—the ones erring on the side of purple prose—and they help keep me thematically on track. They’re the connective tissue I build the story around. If the mood doesn’t feel right when I’m editing, I can look back at these lines and be like “oh yeah, that’s the vibe I was going for.” Which is a really long way of saying that I obsess over gnarly little tidbits in stories more than anything else.
What can you tell us about the inspiration behind “Cadaver Dogs”? What gave the story life?
This was one of those stories that I only had a title and a first line, and then just kind of went for it. But really, I think the beating heart under it all is that childhood is ripe with horror. Kids experience the world on a smaller, more intense scale. They never doubt that there are monsters. I wanted to give that intensity a physical presence and put it in the framework of a semi-rural childhood I was familiar with. I spent a lot of time riding around my neighborhood with a pack of other kids. Unfortunately, no one let us have crowbars.
You lace together many different kinds of horror in the story. The kids struggle with both the reality of the attacks and how their families seem to disintegrate before their eyes. We see the fear of the first attack when they ride into the woods together and the grim certainty of the end. What would you consider the greatest horror here: the monstrous pack, or the fear of suffocating in a small town with no prospects?
Personally, I’d say suffocating in a small town with no prospects is much scarier that the pack, but I’m biased. I love monsters, especially ones like these. I should probably say something poetic here about the freedom that comes with being horrific and beautiful at the same time and sloughing off a body that doesn’t feel like it belongs to you anymore.
In addition to writing, you are also a voice actor. Do you find that one influences the other, or are they separate and distinct? Do you have a favorite voice actor or narrator?
I’d say they do influence each other a little—the media that inspires me as a voice actor often inspires me as a writer. Mostly, doing both taught me that if at least one part of something doesn’t give you chills when you read it out loud, it’s not working.
I don’t think I could pick a favorite voice actor or narrator, though! There are so many talented folks out there, both that I’ve worked with and been a fan of, and there’s not enough space here for me to nerd out about all of them unless you’re looking for a cool thirty-minute read. (If you really want the list, check out who I follow on Twitter; they’re all ridiculously good.)
How did you first dip your toes into the horror genre?
As a professional, I’ve only been kicking around the horror waters since about 2018. The first thing I wrote and made public was a short story called “Pure Hell,” about a real-life cliff of the same name with a little bit of ghost thrown in. But I’ve been immersed in the horror genre for a long time—like, “member of the mail-in Goosebumps book club” long. (Someday, I’ll find that holographic bookmark again.) I’ve spent years trying to find a way to bottle that perfect dread I felt when I read the first story that truly scared me, and I’ll probably keep trying to do it for the rest of my life.
Do you have any upcoming projects? What can readers and listeners look forward to from B. Narr in the second half of 2021?
I do! A few audio dramas that I’ve had the privilege to act in are coming out later this year, like The Waystation and Retribution. We’re working towards the finale of the first season of The Silt Verses, too! In terms of writing, it’s a little more nebulous, because the pieces are still in the works, but I can absolutely promise you this isn’t the last story of mine you’ll read—or hear.
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