G'day Gemma and welcome to the Couch of Chaos,
I actually welcome you with great reverence. From my understanding you deal with the most bluntly critical of markets. No only will they not read your words, they are just as liable to throw them back at you. Yet, you gather the hearts and souls of future readers. You help the little ones find their "Horror Zing". As most of us writers will probably only find fame post humously, it is these little devils, sorry darlings you nurture now that will elevate our greatness in the future. You are truly the original harvester. Thank you.
From where do you hail? And what is your modus operandi with the blood soaked pen?
I hail from England, currently living on the South Coast but was born in the midlands. Spent most of my life down South though, near the beach so no complaints from me. I am a creature horror writer, usually the creature is human-based; vampire, Frankenstein’s monster, etc. My stuff isn’t usually gore heavy, my horror usually comes from the journey my main characters have to take, and the twists and turns they encounter on their adventure. I am a massive Universal Monster movie fan, the classic ones from the 30s and 40s, so they come up a lot in my work.
If there was one thing you could change, improve about your writing or writing process, what would it be? More coffee and less cake are not acceptable answers.
I wish I could write more, and throughout at the day. I write best at the moment in the evening, before bed, but sometimes I find then I can’t write much, especially if I’ve had a busy day. It would be nice to be able to get the juices flowing in the morning, post dog walk and breakfast so I could get a couple of hours done. I am one of those people with a million ideas running through my head and 101 projects on the go so being able to change how and when my brain wants to write would be spot on.
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.
One is my debut children's novel.
What would you do if you turned up at school and found your teacher had been replaced by a vampire? Cause that’s what Mollie Tanner and her friends found when they turned up at school one morning in The Monster Club: The Vampire Substitute.
Two is a Pilot Script of mine I was hoping would get picked up…. One day
Levis Pet Emporium
When his grandfather dies and leaves him his entire estate, Levi Chesterton discovers that there was more than meets the eye to the eccentric old man. For behind closed doors, Silas was the purveyor of mythical and fantastical beasts from all corners of the earth… and sometimes beyond.
Three is another Pilot Script of mine that was close to being picked up… I still hold out hope.
Bang Up to the Elephant
Inspired by the gothic beauty of Penny Dreadful, the grisly horror of Sweeney Todd and the real-life mystery of Ripper Street, Bang Up to the Elephant takes elements from classic literature and re-imagines them in a world where prostitutes roam, and a doctor experiments with life, death and re-animation.
Tell us, why should we read your work? Don’t say because it is better than mine.
Because it’s fabulous! Ha!
If you like strong female characters, then give me work a read. There is always a strong female with flaws in my work, because lets face it we all have flaws and the world always needs strong women. I usually put them through the ringer in some form or another but that’s a part of telling a great story. My childrens books especially are very female focus, my debut novel Book One of The Monster Club is all about 4 10 year old girls who fight monsters, it’s a book that I would have loved to read as a child, to see that girls too can do the boy things.
Is there one thing you would have done differently in your writing career?
Started writing earlier. I’ve only been writing less than a year, novel/short story wise anyway. I’ve been writing screenplays for a couple of years, but both came after I turned 30. I never had the confidence before and felt it was something I was never very good at. I didn’t have the most encouraging teachers at school, in fact one of my English teachers told me I wasn’t a writer, so my confidence was knocked at a young age.
Who, is your favourite monster?
My favourite monster, the one who inspires me the most is The Bride of Frankenstein. I even got her tattooed pin-up style on my thigh. Her character, or elements of it often appear in my work. I love the ‘human’ element of monsters and her tragic backstory as a woman caught in the middle of something.
Other than reading my work, what are your goals for 2021?
Lots of writing. I am a new writer so am still developing my style, but it’s definitely coming. In the past few months alone, I have noticed how much stronger my writing has become. I am trying to write as many short stories as I can for open anthology calls, as well as have my first children’s novel coming out end of January. I hope to write the second book in that series as well this year. On top of that I am also running two group projects for Black Hare Press. So, a very busy year for me.
All of our characters have elements of ourselves woven into them. Which poor character is most like you?
End of last year I wrote a short story for WPC Press who had a ‘Holiday’ anthology coming out. The character in it was about a writer who is lonely and looking for a partner, and sees him while at a Christmas market, it was a little like love at first sight. The twist was that her perfect partner who she saw was a dog who needed adopting, a retired greyhound. Besides the me ‘feeling lonely’ part, that character was all me as I am a writer who fell in love with a retired greyhound, his names Jimmy and he’s my soppy boy. I have another dog too, but she didn’t make it into that story. Sorry its not a horror story.
What is the greatest challenge to women succeeding in horror?
It depends on the industry I have found. For the most part people are nothing but supportive. As someone who flicks between the film industry and the indie author industry I have seen both sides. The indie author side is a lot more supportive of women in horror. The film side can be, but I have also had a lot of people belittle me, push me out etc, and all of them have been middle aged men who are nothing but jealous that a young inexperienced girl comes in and starts doing better than them. That’s not my ego as trust me I don’t have one, that’s the stats speaking for themselves. I’ve unfortunately lost what I thought were w few good friends because they didn’t like that I was a woman who spoke my mind and had my own thoughts. But I do also have a lot of middle-aged male supporters who don’t mind at all that I have my own voice.
Where did you discover your love for all things that go bump in the night, or splat on the walls?
I’ve been into horror in some way since I was young. I was introduced to The Nightmare Before Christmas when I was a kid and quickly became obsessed. Then it was Goosebumps books, so you can kind of say it was inevitable that horror was going to be my genre.
Find Gemma on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gemmapauthor
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