Tuesday, May 8, 2018

POISON APPLES, BIRD FEATHERS, AND SISTERHOOD: AN AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH GWENDOLYN KISTE


Good Morning, Everyone:

Today in the Madhouse, I'm featuring author Gwendolyn Kiste where we'll talk reversed fairy tales, female empowerment, and chat about her short story collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe. I have to say that I absolutely loved and was taken with this collection, and I found myself connecting with the stories inside it on a very real, emotional level. For those of you who know me, you know that I have a soft spot for the beautiful grotesque and that I think horror is one of the best genres in writing for learning coping methods and survival skills. Kiste's work incorporates all of that, but with the softness of a first kiss and the subtlety of a sharpened dagger. 


I'm beyond excited to have her here with me today, but for those of you who are new to her work, let me give you a proper introduction.Gwendolyn Kiste is the author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, her debut fiction collection available now from JournalStone, as well as the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, from Broken Eye Books. Her short fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Shimmer, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, Interzone, LampLight, and Three-Lobed Burning Eye as well as Flame Tree Publishing's Chilling Horror Short Stories anthology, among others. She currently resides on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts.  

So stay away from the spinning wheel, try not to the eat the apple, and get ready to dive into a world of birds, towers, and women who like to break the rules.

With seashells and owl feathers,
Stephanie M. Wytovich 


Tell us about your book. What gave you the idea to create this collection, and in your opinion, what does it represent at its most literal and figurative heights?

To be honest, I was inspired to put together the collection when my now-editor, Jess Landry, at JournalStone reached out to me and asked me to submit a book to her. I knew I had more than enough stories for a collection, but I’d wanted to wait until the right opportunity came along. I already admired Jess and all the work she’d done as an author, and I was so thrilled to be able to get on board with her as an editor, so I was sure that this was exactly the opportunity I’d hoped for. So I went through my work and really pored over which pieces went together. Once I’d winnowed everything down to nine previously published stories, I finished up a handful of new tales for the table of contents that were along a similar vein, and suddenly I realized I had a book! It felt a little like magic when it all came together.

To me, the collection is all about outsiders. It explores stories of people who have been pushed out of life, and bullied or entirely ostracized because of societal expectations. The horror mainly comes from that everyday dread of figuring out how to live in a world that’s so often hostile to anyone who’s different. In particular, it was important to me to have a collection that focused a lot on female characters and the relationships between them. Growing up, I always yearned for more female-centric stories, and once I had the chance, I knew that’s what I wanted to write.    

There were so many beautiful stories in this collection that it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. However, I was particularly taken with the first story, “Something Borrowed, Something Blue.” The imagery of birds juxtaposed with femininity and birth is written with such care and fragility, that I’m curious, what inspired it?

The simple answer for this one is that I just really love birds. Owls, crows, vultures, even pigeons—I’m a pretty big fan of all of them. Somehow, I also manage to spend a lot of time with birds too. I’ve held baby owls, been followed by murders of crows across town, and observed (from a safe distance) as mother and father birds taught their babies to fly.

Part of what draws me to birds, beyond how beautiful and fascinating they are, is that they’re tied to this idea of freedom. Flight can be such a metaphor for independence, and for letting go of the past and moving into the future or even the unknown. That mystery of birds definitely gives them a tinge of horror too, a certain kind of uncertainty or strangeness.

On the other hand, childbirth is one of the most terrifying things in the world to me. It’s so violent and yet treated so casually in society, like women should just be able to “bounce back” within minutes, despite how many changes, physically and emotionally, it puts new mothers through. As I was doing some free association in a drafting process, I imagined a connection between the freedom and mystery of birds and the terror of childbirth, especially in circumstances where the new mother is disregarded by those who should care most about her. It was certainly a painful story to write at points, but I like to think the ending is ultimately an optimistic, if not a little bit creepy, one.

“The Tower Princesses” reads like a reverse fairy tale, much like “All the Red Apples Have Withered to Gray.” I love that you’re empowering women through your retellings of these stories and tropes that we’re all familiar with, most of us even, from childhood. What effect are you hoping these stories have on how women are portrayed in the horror industry, both the writers and their characters?

I very much hope that these stories expand upon women’s roles, especially in horror, and give us a chance to reclaim our own narratives and make us into something more than victims. To be fair, horror has always included more strong female characters than many other genres, but in particular when looking at fairy tales, women are too often relegated to waiting for the prince to come and save them. With both “All the Red Apples Have Withered to Gray” and “The Tower Princesses,” I wanted to subvert that trope and allow the female characters to fight for and discover their own paths. It can be so easy to internalize the stories we’re told from childhood, and for me, as a writer, I like to take the tales that might have quietly built up one narrative for readers and look at that same story from a different and hopefully more challenging perspective. We can still love the things we grew up with, while at the same time realizing that some of the “lessons” we learned were dated and even at times damaging.      

“The Clawfoot Requiem” was another favorite of mine, and to me, it’s a perfect example of the beautiful grotesque. For readers who are unfamiliar with the terminology, how would you describe the beautiful grotesque, and to add on to that, how do you like to tackle it in your writing?

For me, the beautiful grotesque is all about finding the lyrical and the elegant in images and themes that are commonly seen as unnerving or even outright disgusting. In my writing, I might take an image—the bathtub of blood in “The Clawfoot Requiem” or the gory childbirth in “Something Borrowed, Something Blue”—and depict it in a way that isn’t there solely to “gross-out.” Instead, the focus is on what’s quietly lovely and hopefully emotionally resonant in the creepy moment.

One of my favorite things about the beautiful grotesque is that it can be a strange kind of coping mechanism. Horror in general helps readers (and writers) to deal with the more terrifying aspects of life. By taking that one step further and not just dealing with the things that terrify us but also making those things beautiful, it can simultaneously enhance the horror while also adding an odd level of comfort. Because if something’s beautiful, it can’t just be horrifying, right? There’s certainly cognitive dissonance in the beautiful grotesque, and personally, I think that makes it even more appealing to me, how the juxtaposition challenges expectations.

To me, the collection read like a whimsical, haunted fairy tale, so I have to ask. What’s your favorite fairy tale and why?

It’s obviously so hard to pick, but I’ll have to go with Baba Yaga. She’s such a fascinating and still underappreciated character. I love her capricious nature, how she’s as likely to assist the protagonist as she is to antagonize them. Plus, who wouldn’t want to live in a house with chicken legs, and ride around in a mortar and pestle every night? She’s definitely quite the gal!

However, in terms of my favorite fairy tale retelling, that would be “The Company of Wolves.” It was the first Angela Carter story I ever read, and it was a complete revelation for me. Ever since discovering it in an undergrad literature class, I can very honestly say I haven’t been the same.

What takeaway do you hope your readers leave your collection with?

It’s interesting, because I don’t necessarily have a specific takeaway for the collection. I’m happy with whatever the readers discover for themselves while reading these stories. That being said, if I had to choose, I hope that those who feel like the outsider or the Other come away feeling at least a little less alone in the world. And for anyone who doesn’t necessarily feel like the outsider, then maybe they’ll have more understanding and compassion for those who don’t belong. I can be a bit too optimistic about the future, but I still like to believe that one day, we’ll have a world where we don’t deliberately lock people out of opportunity and out of life and happiness. I think literature can provide one way for us to move toward a more inclusive society, and I would very much like for my work to be part of that.

How did you come to writing and who are some of your influences?

Like so many of us, I’ve been writing pretty much since I could pick up a pencil. I put together my first little books of stories when I was around six years old, complete with really terrible illustrations. (I’m definitely not a visual artist!) I’ve always loved horror and the darker side of fairy tales, so as a voracious reader as a child, it seemed like the most wonderful possibility for me that eventually, I could be a writer too.

My biggest influences are definitely Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, and Angela Carter. Their fiction never ceases to surprise me, no matter how many times I read and reread their stories. As for authors writing today, Brooke Warra, Farah Rose Smith, Eden Royce, Christa Carmen, Calvin Demmer, and Christina Sng are just a few who consistently inspire me with their work. It’s a wonderful time to be a horror and dark fantasy writer, for sure.     

Can you give us an insight into your writing process? Any habits or rituals when you sit down to write?

I’ve found over the past year or so that I actually write best when I don’t have a typical pattern but instead switch up where I write and when. I have a dedicated writing desk at home, but I love to get out of the house when I can. To coffee shops, diners, any place that has Wi-Fi and sometimes even places that don’t. My biggest challenge is to make sure nothing about the process of writing feels too rote. I can’t get into that creative headspace if that happens.

I will say, though, that a cup of coffee is always a great motivator. It’s the one ritual that never fails for me!  

What books are sitting in your TBR pile?

Too many to count, honestly! In the next month or so, I’m looking very forward to reading Larissa Glasser’s F4, Chthonic: Weird Tales of Inner Earth from Martian Migraine Press, Craig Laurance Gidney’s The Nectar of Nightmares, and an advance copy of Christa Carmen’s debut collection, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked. I’ll probably also reread a couple books in there too, including Carol J. Clover’s Men, Women, and Chainsaws as well as Literary Witches by Taisia Kitaiskaia and illustrated by Katy Horan. So many incredible books, and so little time!

What is next in store for your readers?

My debut novel, The Rust Maidens, is coming very soon! Based primarily in the year 1980, it’s about a group of girls in a Cleveland neighborhood who are slowly turning into the rust and rot that surrounds them. It includes some of my favorite themes such as body horror and coming of age, and it also has some elements of a very weird, gothic fairy tale too. That will be released through Trepidatio Publishing, an imprint of JournalStone, and should be coming out in September.

While the novel is my big project for the year, I also have a number of short stories that will be making their way into the world soon as well. In particular, my horror story, “An Elegy for Childhood Monsters,” will appear in Suspended in Dusk 2 from Grey Matter Press, and my cosmic horror tale, “A Lost Student’s Guide to Surviving the Abyss,” will be part of the Welcome to Miskatonic University anthology from Broken Eye Books.  I have a couple other pieces that I can’t announce yet, but hopefully, there will be several more things to come in 2018.   

What advice do you have for writers working in the horror genre?

It might seem obvious, but write what scares you. It doesn’t matter if it’s not the usual things that are deemed “frightening.” In fact, sometimes, the most unusual fears create the best and more distinctive stories. If it unnerves you, then it’s worth exploring. Especially when writing horror, it’s often easier and less painful to take the easy way out, to look away from the things that truly bother us, but when you dig deep into the recesses of who you are and what truly terrifies you, that’s when I think a writer is going to find that vein of truth in their work. And that’s what’s more likely to resonate with readers.


Book Description & Blurbs

A murdered movie star reaches out to an unlikely fan. An orchard is bewitched with poison apples and would-be princesses. A pair of outcasts fail a questionnaire that measures who in their neighborhood will vanish next. Two sisters keep a grotesque secret hidden in a Victorian bathtub. A dearly departed best friend carries a grudge from beyond the grave.

In her debut collection, Gwendolyn Kiste delves into the gathering darkness where beauty embraces the monstrous, and where even the most tranquil worlds are not to be trusted. From fairy tale kingdoms and desolate carnivals, to wedding ceremonies and summer camps that aren't as joyful as they seem, these fourteen tales of horror and dark fantasy explore death, rebirth, and illusion all through the eyes of those on the outside---the forgotten, the forsaken, the Other, none of whom will stay in the dark any longer.

"Ravishingly beautiful and profoundly haunting." -- Maria Haskins, author of Dark Flash

"These stories come from the shadows under the merry-go-round, and they're eager to drag you back there with them." -- Sarah Read, author and editor at Pantheon Magazine
"A lyrical journey of blood, loss, and secrets, Kiste's debut collection takes you from a cursed orchard to a world that looks all too familiar. Dark and beautiful, And Her Smile is not to be missed." -- Jacob Haddon, editor of LampLight


Promotional Links
http://www.gwendolynkiste.com
http://facebook.com/gwendolynkiste


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

THERE ARE BOOKS FOR YOU IN HELL: Dark Regions Press to Raffle off 10 copes of The Eighth

Exciting news! I'm currently in the author spotlight (AH! IT BURNS) over at Dark Regions Press. We'll be doing some fun stuff over the next couple of weeks and right now, Dark Regions Press is giving away 10 copies of my debut novel, The Eighth over on Facebook and Twitter. 
Be sure to like their page and head over to join the fun. 
Book Summary:
After Paimon, Lucifer’s top soul collector, falls in love with a mortal girl whose soul he is supposed to claim, he desperately tries everything in his power to save her from the Devil’s grasp. But what happens when a demon has to confront his demons, when he has to turn to something darker, something more sinister for help? Can Paimon survive the consequences of working with the Seven Deadly Sins-sins who have their own agenda with the Devil—or will he fall into a deeper, darker kind of hell?
What They're Saying:



"The Eighth is a stellar horror debut from Stephanie Wytovich. An intimate, painful map of personal and literal hells that would make Clive Barker proud." - Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author
“The Eighth is an intense tale of love, betrayal, damnation and regret. Paimon's story draws you in with lyrical language and lush imagery that is both beautiful and disturbing. This story is definitely not safe for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach, immersing you in a world of pain and darkness.”-Angela Crawford, Horror Maiden Book Reviews

“Stephanie Wytovich’s The Eighth is a savage tale of betrayal, regret, and the dark side of love in its many forms. The poetic imagery she sprinkles throughout balances the brutality with beauty.”  Chris Marrs, author of Wildwoman and Everything Leads Back to Alice

“A fierce and emotionally intense debut.”- Craig DiLouie, author of Suffer the Children
“A brilliant debut from a major new talent, full of darkness, fire, and devilry. Indeed, the sins in this novel are so well realized that I fear just a little for Ms. Wytovich’s soul.”- Rio Youers, author of Westlake Soul and Point Hollow
Loosely based on the Hades of Dante’s Inferno, Wytovich’s depiction of the underworld is truly terrifying and it’s likely that it would scare the hell out of Alighieri himself.”-Shane Douglas Keen, This is Horror UK
“…a raw, bloody and intriguing portrait of obsession and pain.”-Unnerving Magazine

“Stephanie Wytovich is by nature a poet. THE EIGHTH is both pure poetry, and purely poetic. From the first lines I floated in imagery and lyricism, in sensuality in its strictest sense, a feast of the senses. A hedonist would revel! [Both Aleister Crowley and Oscar Wilde come to mind in this regard.]”- The Haunted Reading Room

WITCHCRAFT, OFFERINGS, HISTORY, AND HORROR: THE MERRIMACK VALLEY HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL

This year, I'm going to be attending/vending at the Merrimack Valley Halloween Festival in Haverhill, MA. I'll have copies of my poetry collections (Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, An Exorcism of Angels, Brothel, and Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare), and my novel (The Eighth). The Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival 2018 will feature at least more than SIXTY authors, artists, and filmmakers. Panel discussions. Brand new book debuts. And, of course, Trick or Treat candy.

Event Details:
Saturday, October 13th, 2018, from 10am to 4:30pm.
Haverhill Public Library
Haverhill, MA

I'm really excited for this event, not just because it will give me the chance to meet more readers, but also because I'll be getting to see my writing family again, some of who I only see maybe once a year (or maybe every other year at that). I'm also planning on taking some time to explore Massachusetts, and in additional to Haverhill, I'll be hanging out in Boston, Amherst, and Salem. I plan on leaving offerings at Emily Dickinson's and Anne Sexton's grave, visiting the Dickinson museum, and spending lots of time photographing and researching Salem for a literature class I'm designing.

This opportunity is perfectly timed because this past semester, I taught Dickinson, Sexton, and Hawthorne. Beyond the confessional poets obviously having a huge influence on my work, I'm also using their work for a larger non-fiction project that's been in the making, so having the chance to honor them at their resting place will be a beautiful moment for me. It's kind of like when Patti Smith talks about visiting Plath's grave in her memoir, M Train (which if you haven't read that book, I highly recommend doing so). As for Hawthorne, I plan on doing some more work to prepare for my visit to Salem. I teach a lot of his short stories, which I'm madly in love with, and I've of course read The Scarlet Letter more times than I care to count, but I also want to read The House of the Seven Gables, as well as some other witchcraft inspired books (not necessarily by him), such as The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike. All in all, I think it will be a refreshing trip both mentally and emotionally, and I'm very much looking forward to spending time in a new place with people I've grown to love.   


Thursday, April 26, 2018

PITTSBURGH FILMMAKERS HELP GIRLS REMAKE HORROR

Hello Friends and Fiends!


I'm writing to you today with an exciting announcement, one that I'm simply just over the moon about. This summer, I'm partnering up with Pittsburgh Filmmakers to work with them, and a bunch of talented young ladies, on a summer camp titled: Girls Remake Horror. The instructors and I will be focusing on all aspects of filmmaking, and I personally will be focusing on the history of the horror genre and writing for horror, both on and off screen (with some fun exercises to boot!). For those of you who are local to the area and might have children (or know friends who have children who might be interested), below are the camp details, all of which promise a bloody good time. Link included above.

But wait! I forgot the best part!

The final product that the students will be working on--a short film--will be presented as part of Pittsburgh's Celebration of George Romero and Night of the Living Dead this October.


THEY'RE COMING TO GET YOU BARBARA....

Camp Description:


Traditionally, horror films are written and directed by and for men. In 2018, the 50th anniversary of “Night of the Living Dead”, this two-week intensive camp invites high schoolers who identify as female to re-imagine the genre. Students will receive instruction in the history of horror cinema and in basic filmmaking techniques. Then, instructors who also work in the field as professional filmmakers and horror writers will guide students through the process of writing, shooting and editing a short horror film. The final product will be presented as part of Pittsburgh’s celebration of “Night of the Living Dead” and George Romero in October.

Camp Details:

Camp Dates: July 23 through August 3.
Days/Times: Monday through Friday 9:00am to 4pm
Location: Pittsburgh Filmmakers, 477 Melwood Avenue in North Oakland. 
Cost per student: $725/$750
Instructors will include professional filmmakers and film historians from the Pittsburgh Filmmakers faculty. All equipment will be provided. Each student will receive a copy of the finished film after its premiere in October.



Learning Outcomes:

Effective horror writing
Directing actors
Camera work/shot choice for horror mood
Lighting for horror mood
SFX makeup
Sound recording and mixing
Editing with Premiere
Exposure to strong female role models in the film and media industries
Increased self-confidence, personally and professionally
Diverse representation in the media
Ability to give and receive constructive criticism about creative work
Speaking and presentation skills
Networking techniques

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

FINAL GIRLS IN THE MADHOUSE: AN INTERVIEW WITH CLAIRE C. HOLLAND

Hello Everyone:

Today in the Madhouse, I'm hosting Claire C. HollandHolland is a poet and writer from Philadelphia, currently living in Los Angeles. She has been a freelance writer for more than ten years, and her first book of poetry, I Am Not Your Final Girl, is available now. When she's not writing, Claire can usually be found reading or binge-watching horror movies with her husband, Corey, and Wheaten Terrier, Chief Brody. She is also a feminist, a tattoo collector, and interested in all forms of art strange and subversive.

I had heard about Holland's work at StokerCon this year when I was presenting a feminist lecture on Scream Queens: The Role of Women in Slasher Films. Several people asked me if I had read her work yet, so needless to say, I was so excited that I immediately downloaded in on my Kindle and read it on the flight home. I became a quick fan of Holland's work, because not only is she a fantastic poet, but her work is also empowering and it tackles a lot issues that we're all facing today, both emotionally and politically.

I'm beyond excited to have her here in the Madhouse with me, and I hope you'll all give her a warm welcome, check out her work, and enjoy the interview that we did below.

With razors and screams,
Stephanie M. Wytovich


Tell us about your book. What gave you the idea to create this collection, and in your opinion, what does it represent at its most literal and figurative heights?

I think I started writing the book about a week after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election. I was feeling incredibly depressed, hopeless, and scared - but also so angry. Angry that we had, in my opinion, failed one another as fellow citizens. I was angry at myself for not doing more before the election, and for assuming that the rest of the country would “obviously” not vote for a misogynist, racist reality TV show star. I needed to channel those feelings, and I deal with intense emotions by writing about them. I was already working on a YA novel in verse at the time, and originally, each section opened with a poem from the perspective of a final girl from horror film (the girl who survives until the end). I ended up simply expanding on that idea and running with it, and the poems practically burst out of me.

The book is about the interior thoughts of these fictional women, who I used to channel my own frustrations and fears about today’s world. It’s also about finding your inner strength, or even your inner monster - that extra bit of fight that I think every woman has inside her, that a lot of us are just discovering. I hope it resonates in that way for other people, too.

The collection is broken down by movies and then given female names as titles. How did you decide to organize the collection this way? Did you have the movies already picked out, or did you write to different movies as you worked through the book?

As I said above, I had already written three “final girl” poems for a different project I was working on, and that’s what gave me the idea. I’m obsessed with horror movies, so I already had a huge knowledge base and I immediately had a lot of characters in mind. Carrie White, Laurie Strode, Sally Hardesty - they’re staples of the horror genre and classic examples of the strong, smart final girl trope. As I kept writing, though, I had to mine a ton of movies for inspiration to finish the book. A scene or moment would eventually spark a line or an idea. I named each poem after the character because I wanted to feel like I was giving these women a renewed voice.

What is your favorite slasher film and how do you personally define Final Girl?

When Carol J. Clover coined the term, it just meant “the woman who survives until the end.” She was generally girl-next-door-ish, likable, bookish. Brunette. I think the term has broadened in recent years, at least in terms of what a final girl looks and acts like. In my book, there are several characters who don’t match the traditional description; I even have a few villains in there. I didn’t want to constrict myself to a completely classic view of the final girl, because I think our society is finally beginning to recognize that women can be antiheroes, too, and we’re allowed to root for them. I’ve sometimes been most inspired by “monstrous” female characters, because they’re really just smart and ambitious.

Asking me to name my favorite horror film is like asking me to name a favorite puppy… but my answer for the last few years has been Evil Dead - the 2013 reboot. I hope I don’t lose all my horror cred for naming a remake, but I love it. Green Room might be a close second at the moment.

You work is so empowering when it comes to slashing the tropes and stereotypes that women are usually cast in. I’m curious, what would you like to see change in the industry in regard to the roles women play both in horror fiction and film?

Thank you! I actually think horror is one of the most progressive, satisfying genres for a woman to be interested in right now. We have incredible new horror films coming out every other month, and so many of them are being created by women, from a woman’s perspective, dealing with women’s issues. Karyn Kusama, Julia Ducournau, Ana Lily Amirpour, Jennifer Kent - they’re all making movies about motherhood, grief, assault, growing up female. But they’re doing it through a very universal lens, which is what I love about horror. Anyone can identify with fear. So I think we are seeing a big change in the way women are being portrayed in the genre, because women are writing those characters. But I think race is an area that hasn’t been addressed nearly as well by the genre as a whole, so I’m excited to see a movie like “Get Out” getting so much attention. I hope we see more of that.

As for horror fiction, I’m going to have to out myself as a huge wimp right now and say that I read almost no horror, aside from young adult or poetry. I don’t know why, but a scary book is leagues more frightening to me than a scary movie.

What takeaway do you hope your readers leave your collection with?

At the very least, I hope it helps some women feel less alone. We’re all struggling through this scary time, and experiencing many of the same feelings. We’ve all been through things and made it out alive. I hope it empowers women to embrace their own strength.

How did you come to poetry and who are some of your influences?

I’ve written poetry for as long as I can remember. My mom read a ton of books to me as a child, including plenty of poetry, and I just loved the detail in it. You can write a whole poem about the beauty of someone’s fingernail, if you’re good enough. My biggest influence when I was younger was Francesca Lia Block - she writes the most gorgeous prose, it’s like poetry. I had a college professor, Jehanne Dubrow, who writes beautiful poetry and I feel like she taught me so much. Beth Bachmann is a poet I aspire to be more like; her poems cut straight to the bone.

Can you give us an insight into your writing process? Any habits or rituals when you sit down to write?

Well for this book, if an idea wasn’t already brimming right at the surface, I would usually put on a horror movie and watch it in the dark for a while to get in the right mood. Other than that, though, I wouldn’t say I have much of a routine. I just like to be quiet and alone when I write. I wish I wrote in a leather-bound journal or something cool like that, but I always write straight on my laptop when I can so I can see what the poem will look like on the page.

What books are sitting in your TBR pile?

Janet Fitch is a favorite author of mine, and her newest book, The Revolution of Marina M., is actually about a poet, so I’ll be checking that out. Nova Ren Suma has a new book coming out soon that I’m excited about, A Room Away From the Wolves. I just read After the Witch Hunt by Megan Falley and really enjoyed it.

What is next in store for your readers?

I’m not sure, to be honest. I’m encouraged by all the positive feedback I’ve gotten so far, and I do have an idea for another poetry collection kicking around in my head. I’m just going to keep writing and see where it leads me. If Trump is president for much longer, I may end up writing a trilogy!

What advice do you have for poets working in the horror genre?

I think participating in an online community of like-minded people can really help, both in connecting to an audience and getting the word out about what you’re making. It may sound strange, because Twitter is often known for being a toxic environment, but I got so much support from other horror film fans on Twitter while I was writing this book. Many of them preordered it or bought it the day it was released, it and then posted about it on social media themselves. It was amazing. I think it’s difficult to find your audience as a poet, because the majority of people still tend to think of poetry as an old-fashioned kind of writing that isn’t relevant today. But I think if you can connect to an audience on multiple levels, it shows people that poetry can be just as accessible and relevant as any other art form.

Book blurb:
From Claire C. Holland, a timely collection of poetry that follows the final girl of slasher cinema - the girl who survives until the end - on a journey of retribution and reclamation. From the white picket fences of 1970s Haddonfield to the apocalyptic end of the world, Holland confronts the role of women in relation to subjects including feminism, violence, motherhood, sexuality, and assault in the world of Trump and the MeToo movement. Each poem centers on a fictional character from horror cinema, and explores the many ways in which women find empowerment through their own perceived monstrousness.