While the amazing Ginger Nuts of Horror website is alive and well, and continues to cover horror through reviews, interviews, features and more… it did go through a reboot once upon a time.
During said reboot, my first foray into the world of McLeod’s chewy goodness was lost, but I (again) save everything. So here is the original, first, interview I did with Jim over at Ginger Nuts of Horror… way back in the day. Enjoy!
Ginger Nuts of Horror (GNOH) – Hi Kelli, how are things with you?
Peachy! Of course, I always say peachy, even when it’s not true. So you’ll have to figure out if I meant that or not.
GNOH – Could you please tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m a frog. No, that’s not what you meant. I’m a short, loud, opinionated… not that either? Okay. I have two amazing kids and two insane cats. I went to college with the intention of an English major until I realized I didn’t want to be a teacher or a journalist for a day job, so I switched to accounting—because it wouldn’t burn out the muse 9-5 and I could still flirt with her at night. But I am still a frog. And short and loud and opinionated.
GNOH – Would you care to let slip one fact about yourself that is not widely known? For example I have punched a well-known British comedian in the face, he deserved it by the way.
Slip? I did mention I was loud mouthed, right? The real me is pretty much what I throw out on the internet, but let me think… How about this? I used to be a ballerina. I once worked for Miss Cleo. I make the most amazing soup on the planet and it should be packaged so I can buy a beach house. I am the most forgiving human on the planet (Mother Theresa and I will actually be duking that one out in the afterlife). And I’ve never punched any comedians, British or otherwise.
GNOH – So what is the appeal of horror to you?
I’m a twisted human. What can I say? As a fan, I’ve always loved the adrenaline rush. Horror makes you feel alive. I’m a big wuss and will never jump out of a perfectly good airplane or tie a rubber band to my ankle and dive off a bridge. I like my thrills nice and fictional. As a writer, I play with bubbles and sidewalk chalk, but my muse is a dark evil thing on which no amount of sun can shine. You may see a couple eating at the sidewalk dinner. I see a wife looking at her husband adoringly… wondering how long the bloody poison is going to take to kick in.
GNOH – I’m sure you have been asked this hundreds of times, but I always like to know what makes an author tick. Why do you write, and can you remember what first caused you to put pen to paper?
You understand most writers roll their eyes at this question, right? I write because I must. Not because anyone needs to see it, but because I have to get it out. There’s only room for so many voices in a person’s head and we (writers) kick out the ones we can.
What first caused me to put pen to paper was the realization that people did this. The first story I wrote was in 2nd grade, I still have the bizarre purple mimeograph copy of it in a box. (No, I did not just date myself!)
GNOH – As a, dare I say, a fledging writer, what do you make of the current state of horror fiction?
Ah, now I’m bummed. I thought I’d climbed out of the mire known as fledgling. Damn. Well, from the bowels of the genre, I would say the current state is the same as it’s always been—in constant flux. Though the insane speeds at which things are changing lately can be completely blamed on the technology.
GNOH – Do you think the current boom in ebooks makes it easier for new writers, or do you think the deluge of sub par work will drown out too many talented authors like yourself?
Don’t you hate when someone answers a multiple choice with a yes or a no? But yes. I think it is easier for new writers, and it’s easier to get lost in the deluge of work. But not all of it is subpar. You can get lost to both talent and sub par work, just by the sheer volume. A part of me still sees it as self-publishing without validation, but if they’ve got the chops and the editing is actually done, then go for it.
GNOH – How would you describe your style? Do you try and maintain a voice throughout your work, or does your style change with each story?
That’s two different things. My style is my style and that remains the same throughout. I have certain grammatical tools I use and/or abuse. I have a certain rhythm to my sentences and paragraphs and the way the stories unfold. But the voice? The voice is the character’s, not mine, so that does change with each story. “Waiting Out Winter” was all Nick and his worries. “Six Days” was all Jen. Of course, bleeding on the page and writing what you know means putting some of you into each of them. Each and every single one of those demons that get kicked out of my head have their own voice.
GNOH – Who would you say are your favourite three authors, and how would you say they have influenced your writing?
I like him and him and him. And that’s all you’re getting. Heroes lose their powers when revealed and I have been very careful to never ever let that slip. How have they influenced me? Easy. I try to be as gung-ho as him, as graceful as him, and as loved and long-standing as him. I write a bit more brutally than he does, have been compared to him on some levels, and want to stand next to him one day as an equal. Of those I can talk about? Poe, Lovecraft, Dickenson, blah blah blah… standard answers.
GNOH – How easy or hard has your journey been from unpublished author to rising star?
Wait, now I’m a rising star? I thought I was fledgling? It has sucked, with a capital S. And I’ve earned every scar I’ve gotten along the way. Something those going straight to ebook self-publishing will never understand, never earn, never appreciate—scars are sexy. I did exactly what I was supposed to, when I was supposed to do it. I had the dry spells of constant rejections and stood my ground. I had the naysayers and backstabbers. And I’ve watched others that started with me rise above me, while others in our group fell behind. I don’t know that it’s been easy or hard. It’s been exactly what it needed to be.
GNOH – I’ve heard you and Brian Keene both refer to each other as friends close enough to be siblings. How helpful has someone as influential and talented as Brian been to honing your craft?
He has not been helpful at all in honing my craft. Remember, I edit him, not the other way around. When it comes to the words, I’m all me. Although, he did threaten me and give me a deadline for the first novel, a push if you will… right off the cliff.
On the business side of things, however, he’s been beyond helpful. We were friends before I started writing (again). We share what we’re seeing, trends we’re noticing, things like that. If he never wrote another word, he’d still be my friend, my big brother, and we’d still discuss the genre and the industry.
And I’d still do the exact opposite of what he tells me to, just like a sister should =)
GNOH – How did you feel when the news about Brian’s heart attack broke. I was shocked.
NO WAY ARE WE DISCUSSING THIS… sorry. He IS like a big brother to me and we keep some things private =) please remove this from the interview. Thank you.
GNOH – Another firm friend and cohort of yours if Alethea Kontis, how long have you two been friends?
Alethea and I met on a trampoline in the garage of a castle, long ago, in a land far away. How many friendships can say they started out like that? We’ve actually only known each other for a handful of years, but we bonded on that trampoline like sisters separated at birth.
GNOH – Is there any sort of friendly rivalry between the two of you?
Oh god, no. There never is with anyone in this business. You cheer for your friends, even when you’re going for the same thing. You hold them when they’re down, and you celebrate when they’re up. It’s a strange business—your friends are your enemies, and we’re all really okay with that. Plus, I tend to stick with horror and thriller, while Alethea’s much more fantasy and science fiction.
GNOH – How much of an honour was it to be part of Maelstroms debut collection?
It was a surprise, that’s for sure. And the beginning of a beautiful relationship with Paul Goblirsch at Thunderstorm.
GNOH – Can you tell us about Six days?
The official blurb? Sure: Jenny Schultz wakes up in a dark basement with no recollection of how she got there. As she looks for an escape, she discovers remnants of previous captives¾a plate, a tooth, a bone. To survive, she confronts the darkness within herself, tapping it for strength. Unfortunately, her own demons may destroy her before she finds a way out.
GNOH – Will it ever be released in another format?
I’m working on that right now. Details will be forthcoming on my blog.
GNOH – Your novella the Neighborhood has received a lot of praise, can you tell us what it is about?
A missing girl. A found fingertip. A puddle of blood without a body.
A small town neighborhood full of rumors and imagination through the eyes of its youth. Their world is a combination of grass stains and dried mud—the badges of childhood, that often look like blood in the right light.
GNOH – It’s told from the viewpoint of the town’s kids. Is this sort of book that all horror authors need to tell? These stories are among my favourite. I’m reaching an age where looking back at the things of my childhood brings back great memories.
Oh no, no. Do not confuse this with the all-important-everyone-should-do-one coming-of-age story. That is not what this is. The kids were used because kids change things, assume things, make horrible guesses and even worse mistakes. Adults are more factual. The coming-of-age story? Yeah, that’s next year… watch for #mitm hashtags on twitter to know when I’m working on that.
GNOH – What’s the overriding memory you have of your childhood?
Overriding memory? Wow. That’s like asking which piece of popcorn in the bowl tasted the best. Hmm… If I had to say something: adaptation. We moved a lot when I was a kid. And by a lot, I mean I went to 10 different schools from elementary to senior high, almost a school a year. I learned how to fit in quickly, make friends on the fly, and adjust to almost anything. Almost.
GNOH – You have also written a man verses nature novella called Waiting Out Winter. What was the inspiration for this novella?
The Wisconsin DNR did this to us! Well, okay, they didn’t actually release killer flies, but they did realize flies to kill off tent worms. They were horrible biting black sand flies and they were everywhere that summer. People cancelled vacations. You couldn’t go outside. It was awful. And that evil muse I mentioned, that wonders about the poison in the couple’s sidewalk coffee, she immediately inserted “infected” into the fly situation and made it worse.
GNOH – So what’s your least favourite creepy crawly?
WOODTICKS! I hate those things. The only thing worse than my hate of woodticks is other people’s dread of me finding a woodtick—because I will scream and flick it, and now they have to figure out where it went. I’ve always said hell for me would be stuck in a glass elevator (hate heights), full of woodticks, with nothing but Barry Manilow muzak.
GNOH – Have you ever been tempted to go back and expand these novellas in to full blown novels?
Nope. Though I do tend to borrow characters and situations, so you’ll likely see some crossovers in other things. i.e. “The Man Who Slept Through Tomorrow” mentioned the fly invasion, and “Calling the Dead” included one of the characters from The Neighborhood as a main character.
GNOH – All of your books have great covers, how much say do you have in the cover art?
Actually, I’ve been very lucky with cover art. The novel and both novellas all came out from Thunderstorm and Paul involves the writer on every aspect, including cover art. He takes suggestions, tells you what the artist’s ideas are, and shows you progress along the way. I’ve had far more involvement than I ever expected with the cover art.
GNOH – Do you have a favourite of them?
The fly is bloody awesome! Period. A part of me wants to see it in color, but the black and white is just so amazing it isn’t necessary.
GNOH – Can you tell us about any future projects you have in the pipeline?
My pipeline is full. My whiteboard (to do list) is a hot mess.
I have a story in the Flying Spaghetti Monster anthology (supported by Bobby Hendersen himself) that just became available for sale. I have handed in my first collection, Black Bubbles, for spring publication (other details being withheld for time being) and am editing the next novel due at month end for a fall 2012 release (nope, no details yet, but #wpp is my twitter hashtag when I’m discussing it). I am finishing up a short story for a sequel anthology to be released next year (yep, that’s all the details you’re getting for that). I have just been asked to write a novel for a new publisher to become part of their lineup (very excited about this, no details for you!) and am diving into that novel (#LS twitter hashtag). Also, watch for a twisted alphabet book not for children, coming from a (re)new(ed) imprint of a popular horror magazine, and a handful of straight to ebook titles in the next few months. And when that’s all caught up, I dive into the coming-of-age novel #mitm, followed by a return to the apocalypse #T. Did I mention my whiteboard was a hot mess?
GNOH – Thank you so much for popping by for a chat. Keep an eye out for my reviews of The Neighbourhood, and Waiting out Winter, they are locked and loaded into my review schedule?
Oh I’m very excited to see what you thought of them and have to say about them. And thank you, very much, for asking me to do this. Always a pleasure to see what kind of fun questions people come up with.
Yet again, thanks to Jim for asking me to participate!