G'day Em, and welcome to my Couch of Chaos.
I see the kids are getting along like a house on fire tormenting the Snow-Yetis together. I apologise for being late, but I had to drop the car in for a service. Did you find the special pot of tea I brewed for you? .... Oh, is that why your mouth is bleeding. So when you say Silver Needles, it is not literally silver needles. Bugger, umm sorry. This is kind of awkward... You do balance wonderfully on the Couch of Chaos, must be all that Yoga. Ok, lets get this started, here is a napkin. For the blood, gushing from your lips.
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?
Tea, always tea. I’m a bit of a tea geek. My favourite is Silver Needles White Tea, made with loose leaf, of course. But other than a pretentious cup of tea, there is no magic ritual, I tend to just jam my writing in wherever I can with the rest of my life as a working mum of two.
Self care is important these days, and women tend to leave ourselves to last everytime. How do you care for yourself?
Yoga. I had my first ever migraines at the start of the first UK lockdown in March (would not recommend), and a friend suggested yoga might help. I had done yoga classes when I was pregnant but had never really been that interested in it. But since April 2020 I have been doing yoga every day without fail, and I love it. I feel taller, stronger, fitter, happier, and the migraines have gone. Not to drift into hyperbole, but it has really changed my life. I never thought of myself as a hippy-dippy type, I always saw myself as a bit of a punk, but I’ve mellowed as I hit 40. And, as they say, these days kindness is a revolutionary punk act, especially kindness to yourself.
You have a choice of five people to invite to dinner. Any five in life or beyond? Ok, make that four because it is a given you will invite yours truly. Four friends plus me to your dinner party. Who are they and why?
I would want a chilled, creative vibe at my dinner party. I would want to hear stories of the good old days, and talk about new and exciting creative projects. My guests would be:
Marilyn Monroe – She is a massively misunderstood and misrepresented woman, and I would love to discuss poetry, art, film and theatre with her.
Janelle Monae – A criminally underrated musician and actor, I would love to pick her brains about her creative process, about fashion, about sci-fi. She also just seems really fun with a good sense of humour.
Viv Albertine – My guest list is very American heavy (not that I have anything against Americans, but I couldn’t eat a whole one) so getting punk legend Viv Albertine from The Slits would even up the balance. Her books Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys and To Throw Away Unopened are some of the best I have ever read. While I thought her memoirs would be all about the punk days, they are more about what it means to be a woman, an artist, and mother and a daughter.
Stevie Nicks – I feel like Stevie would bring a calm, motherly energy, would probably give us each a crystal and roll a spliff while giving a tarot reading.
How do you determine success for yourself?
Well, it depends on what type of success you’re talking about. Writing success would be good reviews and feedback from readers who don’t know me. Because, while it is great to have friends and family say they like my writing, there is nothing like that out of the blue feedback from a complete stranger saying they read your book and loved it. But success in life in general for me is happiness, feeling content with what I have, not thinking life is a competition.
Tell us, why should we read your work?
If you like weird little snippets of other lives, strange lives where there are goddesses and monsters and murderers.
If you like tales of revenge and regret, and dream about rivers and seas.
If you want to read about the visceral horror of childbirth and nightmares of ghost children.
If you don’t like the sound of any of that, then I don’t think my writing is for you.
Is there one thing you would have done differently in your writing career?
I can’t say I would do much differently to be honest. I have found a great bunch of friends, notably my partner in grime at Burdizzo Books Matthew Cash, and our extended Burdizzo Family, which is what we call all our writer friends. I tried the traditional publishing route – my debut novel got down to the final 20 out of 1800 in the open house competition of a big publishing house, and in the end I was told that despite my book being a good read and well-written, they didn’t have a market for what I was writing. So, you make your own market. I think the traditional publishing route is a pipe-dream for anyone who doesn’t have the right connections, or isn’t writing in commercially viable genres. There is still a lot of snobbery around horror and fantasy, so I think creators in these genres are just thinking, “Well, I will just find my own audience then.”
What inspires you? No, don’t look at me.
I’m big into local history, I come from a town on the River Thames called Gravesend, and it is full of fascinating characters and events that I can plunder from. I’m a bit of a magpie, and I get inspiration from all sorts of places – popular culture, trips to the aquarium, tiny village museums, folklore, travel. I do lots of research for my stories too, I love buying and reading books about obscure things.
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.
“Post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans zombie apocalypse.”
My novella After Us. Amazon Link: hyperurl.co/y1yz5v
“Ten tales of transformation and lost loves, of eels and moon goddesses, movie stars and murder, of blood stained-gold and electrickery.”
My newest short story collection Ten Minute Warning. Amazon Link: hyperurl.co/gy93m6
A mother isn’t meant to have favourites, but tell me, what is your favourite story that you have written? And why? Just so all those other stories know.
I have been asked this question many times, and the answer is still The Mermaid’s Purse, which was first published in the Sharkasaurus! anthology, compiled and edited by the fantastic Christine Morgan. This was my first paid gig (I kept the cheque though, never cashed it!). I have such a soft spot for the main character, a young boy named Mikey. He lives a hard life with his abusive mother, but he escapes by caring for his unusual pet. I would love to revisit him as an adult in another story, and see where he is now.
This story also features in my first short story collection Food Of The Gods. Amazon Link: hyperurl.co/oc1tjo
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?
Just read, review and share work by other women. Simple as that. And if you are a gatekeeper, if you are a publisher, a blogger, a podcaster, a reviewer, a producer or director, if you are in any of these roles, use your position to elevate the voices of women writers, of black writers, of Asian writers, of indigenous writers, of non-English speaking writers, of queer writers, of trans writers. I guarantee we will all benefit from the fresh stories and perspectives.
Em Dehaney is a mother of two, a writer of fantasy and a drinker of tea. By night she is editor and whip-cracker at Burdizzo Books. By day you can always find her at http://www.emdehaney.com/ or lurking about on Facebook posting pictures of witches https://www.facebook.com/emdehaney/
You can also follow Em on Twitter and Instagram @emdehaney
Em’s debut novel The Searcher Of The Thames, a tale of tea and cake, weed and water, magic and murder set in her hometown of Gravesend, was released in February 2020 and is also available now on Amazon. http://hyperurl.co/nxsiud
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