G'day and welcome to my little corner of chaos.
G’day and thank you for inviting me. G Ooops, didn't mean to sit on him. Will he bite?
He bites sometimes, but only if he really really likes you. Actually you better move the chair over here. He really likes you. So this month we are celebrating Women In Horror and you have caught my eye as somebody I want to know more about.
Well, that’s interesting. Thank you.
Certain information makes it easier to stalk you.
From where do you hail? And what is your modus operandi with the blood-soaked pen?
I write mostly short stories, a little poetry - horror & dark fantasy, infused with bits of science fiction. Coming from the Pacific Northwest, specters from the Northwest's forests, Portland's bridges & Seattle's streets often creep into my dark tales. I write in this genre because I can’t help it. I’m an orphan. I’m afraid of the dark. I know that it’s aswirl with the evil living and the dead. The horrible loneliness of death creeps closer every day as those around me fall. This is my experience, what I know and where I’ve been. This is the voice in my head. As you can see, sometimes I have to tone down my natural inclination toward purple prose.
All of our characters have elements of ourselves woven into them. Which poor character is most like you?
In many of my stories, bits of the past have clung to me and begged for a spot on the page. For instance, in the short story Shypoke–I actually had an Uncle Frank. He rode the rails, dropped by occasionally, and taught me how to cuss and roll my own from his bag of Bull Durham when I was a kid. Shypoke is sort of my homage to him, but, of course, these characters took on their own lives and told me their story. Meaning I’m pretty sure my Uncle never killed anyone.
In my current story, The Silence in the Void: Part 1: sometimes they fall, the first narrator, Mason, is a trapeze artist who keeps dropping his partners and he can’t seem to understand why. Later his life swings way out of his control. I identify with Mason because I feel that I’ve let people down in my life and often let them go too easily, perhaps, and that life hasn't always been under my control.
But, in Part 2: a dangerous woman, Cassie’s the narrator. I don't intend for her to be a kick-ass heroine because, as I'll surely say again, I believe there are levels within all of us, so why always show the extreme. I hope she'll be a relatable person we can all empathize with who fights back against the horrors she finds herself born into and maybe gives us hope as she triumphs in the face of bitter circumstances in part 3–but probably not; my stories never seem to go that way.
Imagine I am filthy successful agent (I did say imagine) we are stepping into an elevator. Hit me with your top three elevator pitches for three pieces of your work.
I would say … ah…duh... Oh, sorry, excuse me, I’ll buy you another coffee, can I help you up?
Crystal Bones and Gossamer Wings is a Novella of Mystery and Horror that begins when a box full of newspaper clippings, photographs, and tiny bones found under a dying woman’s bed leads to the discovery of the existence of an unusual group of children. One of these children is named Crystal. Her father was obsessed with the secret of winged flight; her mother died during one of his tests. Her father was sent to prison, and Crystal was sent to a foster home. Strange furies rose within her that became harder to control. When Crystal became an adult, she used her job with the FBI to try to find her father. Would he tell her who she is, what she is, and what's wrong with her? Could she find the others like her before it's too late? She soon discovered that there was more to her father's obsession than she ever imagined.
Crystal Bones and Gossamer Wings: A Novella of Mystery and Horror - Kindle edition by Fox, Dona. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. Available in kindle and audible.
The Silence in the Void: Part 1: Sometimes They Fall. "Usually, they scream. But she fell silently to the hard-packed dirt below where she sprawled so beautifully, a spent flower tossed carelessly aside."
Sometimes they fall is about intrigue, accidental deaths, and outright murder in the circus. Our narrator is Mason, a trapeze artist who is gradually losing his grip, both in his hands and on his mind. As he suffers the loss of those he holds most dear, he struggles with reality and the resurrection of the dead.
Amazon.com: The Silence in the Void: Part 1: Sometimes They Fall (Night Sky Presents Book 3) eBook: Fox, Dona: Kindle Store Available in kindle, audible to come.
A Perfect Memory is a psychological short horror story about a student who came to Chandler House from the University. She volunteered for one experiment, for one day only, and now she wants to go home. Distortion is layered upon disorientation as she loses sight of who she is. She may not be herself, for there is another who may be her, they meet, cross paths–can they outwit the surgeons? Somehow mark themselves? Can you follow through dark corridors, down long-forgotten tunnels? Who put the nurse's body in the morgue?
Amazon.com: Customer reviews: A Perfect Memory: a short horror story Available in kindle and audible.
Now I can’t start writing until I have a coffee and digestive biscuits to hand. Do you have a ritual before you start writing, or is it spontaneous venture?
Sometimes a phrase may pop into my head, a voice takes over, and the story flows out – that's what happened, for instance, in the first story in my first collection DARK TALES FROM THE DEN–Smoky Martini, and in the first story in the second collection DARKER TALES FROM THE DEN–Mama’s Jewels and Daddy’s Eggs. Many readers really liked both stories, and, I confess, I like to read them myself for the cadence. I’ve read them many times, like a record I never get tired of hearing again. (Oh, blush, I shouldn’t have said that.) As weird as it is, Mama’s Jewels won an Editor’s prize when it was first published in an anthology of surreal stories.
Other times, it's like herding kittens or bull wrestling, I imagine, though I confess I've never wrestled a bull, though I may have ridden a calf. Then I just give up and do something else. Maybe write a review of someone else’s book.
The main thing that can slow me down, actually bring me to an abrupt halt, is when I start worrying along the lines of –can I say that, should I go there, is my grammar right? What about my punctuation, and on and on. Then I see books published that said that and went there and used that redundant grammar, etc.–all the things I'd been worried about, and those books were doing quite well and not one sour note in the reviews along the lines I’d been so concerned about. So there.
But the simple answer is that I turn on my computer and about seven lamps (all energy conscious bulbs, I swear), then start up my music-almost always a playlist of the covers to Mad World. I have a bottle of water and Altoids at hand. I set a timer for 55 minutes. And go.
Is there one thing you would have done differently or known earlier in your writing career?
A long time ago, I published in a few places, and had work wedged between some other writers, and exchanged typewritten notes with a publisher or two. I moved without leaving a proper forwarding address (it was all US Mail back then), and I didn't write or submit for a very long time.
Now I look back, and I'm astounded at the places I had managed to publish and the authors I'd shared TOC's with, not to mention the publishers who'd spent time corresponding with me. If only I had known that I was doing so good, maybe I never would have quit, and perhaps I would be farther along now. The moral of the story, never give up and don’t lose touch with people.
Other than this ground breaking interview, what are you currently working on?
I’m working on a huge project with Roma Gray’s Night Sky Book Services- it’s what’s called a wheel show – 4 authors, 4 novellas, one tale published each month for a year. The project started in October with Essel Pratt, then Kevin Candela in November…
The first part of my series was published in December; it's called The Silence in the Void and begins with the tale of warring brothers. My first segment is called Sometimes They Fall.
Sometimes They Fall - A haunting tale that beings in the nightmarish world of the circus where jealously builds to a crescendo between two brothers, both trapeze artists. Murder and greed lead to anguish and revenge as one brother experiences a life-changing metamorphosis and the cursed child Cassiopeia first appears.
Roma’s first story appeared in January. Pratt’s second will follow, then Candela, and my second “spoke” – “A Dangerous Woman” will come out in April. I’m sure that’s clear as pea soup. Here’s a link to the series: Night Sky Presents (4 book series) Kindle Edition (amazon.com) or Night Sky Presents (4 Book Series) (amazon.co.uk)
We all know horror people are just the warmest, friendliest bunch of writers around. Why do you think this is?
Accepting your premise as a given, I’ve heard it’s because we get it all out on our characters. Murder mystery folks would be rather enchanting as well, except that their dead usually face a quick and clean death off the page rather than the cruel tortures that await our characters, and their focus is on the puzzle, whereas ours is on the grue. Given that, we must act nice to prove that we really wouldn't do all that to you, no, not in real life–we're friendly folks, see, no blood on our hands or our teeth—big smile.
How do you determine success for yourself?
I’m successful if there are readers who enjoy reading the stories I write. I keep a whiteboard with a few uplifting quotes and pictures - my top reviews are pasted on one side and my best responses from editors/publishers on the other. Sometimes I need to read them to remind myself I’m real.
Other than WIHM which is an amazing month for female horror writers. How do you feel other women can best support each other in this genre.
I think women authors should support each other by buying and reviewing each other’s books. If they are in a position to do so, they should pick the stories from the slush pile and bring them to the attention of their editors (I will forever remember the person who did this for me at Apex even though the editor said no), editors should seriously consider them, and publishers should publish them. Women should think to nominate other women’s stories for awards. I'm sure there's actions I'm not thinking of on the spur of the moment. I would like to think we would also focus these actions specifically on diverse authors and indie authors.
Where did you discover your love for all things that go bump in the night, or splat on the walls?
I love mysteries and suspense, and that's what I read, but it seems that I write horror, and I'm not sure why. Let me examine my past.
At night and on long car trips, my older sister demanded I tell her stories. She made me believe I had stories to tell. And, of course, I liked to scare my big sister, who wouldn’t.
My mother died when I was six or seven. My father was deeply depressed, like a Russian novel depressed. A succession of stepmothers passed through the house-one could tell the future from your palm or your cards; another truly believed she had seen aliens.
We were very poor. But we did have a library. A room lined with shelves from floor to ceiling. Shelves filled with books.
We had all of the classics, and my father knew them by heart. Books were dinner table conversation–from Civilization Past and Present or the Fall of the Roman Empire to the classics of mystery, suspense, and horror. No genre was looked down upon, and there was no censorship.
When I was about seven or eight, we visited my Aunt Kate in Montana; she lived in a log cabin in the hills where she mined for gold–she also wrote stories. I asked her for a handful of her rejection slips. When I returned home to Oregon, I proudly tacked the rejection slips above my bed, dreaming that someday I would have my own. (You know how that turned out.)
Though my background is broad, when I sit down to write, only horror comes out. My stories are generally told by slightly mad narrators, full of sadness, who find themselves in dangerous situations where the edge of reality is always in question. So, I can’t answer your question. I would love to write cozy mysteries. I keep trying. They just aren’t there for me.
THANK YOU FOR INVITING ME TO YOUR CHAOS AND FOR SPENDING THIS TIME WITH ME; IT WAS A LOT OF FUN!
Need some more Dona Fox in your life, find this lil' vixen here!
Dona’s Darkness blog: www.donafox.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/donafox