G'day Marie and welcome. I really appreciate you squeezing me into your busy schedule. Yes, please sit down. Yes, that's the chair. I know it doesn't look safe, but it is...mostly. No, it's not meant to be comfortable. Now, you're an editor, that is rather intimidating. Oh, you brought your red pen, great, just great. Perfect for slashing at writer's soul. Trust me, I couldn't / wouldn't survive without one. You guys seriously amaze me. But please, just put the pen down, for now. Ok, Let's get this started then.
From where do you hail? And what is your modus operandi with the blood-soaked pen?
I’m originally from London, but now live in Derbyshire; and I write across the horror genre, everything from psychological to more visceral – though I do have a special fondness for the ghost story; I’ve written several myself, and also edited two anthologies of them – Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mammoth-Ghost-Stories-Women-Books/dp/1780330243) and Phantoms (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Phantoms-Haunting-Tales-Masters-Genre/dp/1785657941).
All of our characters have elements of ourselves woven into them. Which poor character is most like you?
I’m probably not the best judge of that – as you say, there’s a little bit of us in everything we write, but it’s completely unconscious. And I have a feeling it’s probably best to leave it that way or risk your writing becoming self-conscious.
Imagine I am a 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 think I’ll pick one thing from each of the things I do, so for anthologies I’d pick Cursed, our last anthology from Titan. It’s an anthology of dark fairy tales around the theme of a curse, featuring stories from authors like Neil Gaiman, M.R. Carey, Angela Slatter, Jen Williams, Charlie Jane Anders, to name just a few. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cursed-Anthology-Neil-Gaiman-ebook/dp/B081J6MBVH
I also edit a range of novellas for PS Publishing, under the imprint Absinthe Books. We publish three a year, and the first batch featured tales from George Mann, Laura Mauro and SJI Holliday – ranging from dark fantasy to the supernatural. https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/absinthe-books-78-c.asp
For my own work, I’ll mention my most recent collection, The Last Ghost and Other Stories, published last year by Luna Press – a selection of ghost stories ranging from the gentle to the downright disturbing. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Ghost-Other-Stories-Harvester/dp/1911143719
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 a spontaneous venture?
No, no rituals as such. I work full-time as a writer/editor, so basically I have breakfast with Paul while watching morning TV, then plant myself in my chair and stay there for the day. Some days I’m free to just write (though those days are rare), other days I’m editing or proofreading or dealing with admin as well. My one staple is tea, and the lovely Paul keeps me well supplied with that all day.
Is there one thing you would have done differently or known earlier in your writing career?
I wish I’d known about societies like the British Fantasy Society (which I ended up being Chair of for four years) and the Horror Writers’ Association (my husband, Paul Kane, and I co-chair the UK Chapter currently) earlier. The BFS Open Nights were a revelation to me – finally I could sit and chat books and films in the genre I loved with others who didn’t think I was weird for liking horror, or for writing it. Those events, and conventions and other literary events are a valuable way to make friends that share your interests and also a great source of information as to the opportunities available.
Other than this ground-breaking interview, what are you currently working on?
Currently I’m working on a novella with a view to putting together a collection of psychological horror; I’m also working on a screenplay, but that’s in very early stages right now. Editing-wise there are a few projects on the go that I can’t talk about yet, and in a few months it’ll be time to start editing 2021’s Absinthe Books novellas for PS Publishing. Again, I have to keep that under wraps for now.
We all know horror people are just the warmest, friendliest bunch of writers around. Why do you think this is?
I’m not entirely sure; perhaps it’s because we address our fears in our fiction, and write them out. Another reason is probably wider than just the horror genre – writing’s a solitary profession, so we welcome a chance to interact when it comes. It’s always nice to get a chance to meet up with others who are interested in the same things, get what the writing life is like and enjoy chatting about it. When you add to that the fact that, outside the horror genre, horror is looked at as ‘weird’, it’s no surprise we like to get together.
How do you determine success for yourself?
I think on a personal level, hearing that someone’s really loved a story or an anthology is the best feeling – the thing that makes me feel a project is a success. Obviously it’s nice to place a piece of work with a publisher and get paid for it, we all need to pay the bills, but there’s nothing like getting a comment on social media or an email from someone saying how much they’ve enjoyed something you’ve done; how much it meant to them.
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 the same principles apply as in any sphere; raise each other up, celebrate each other’s successes, spread the word where you can – not just in WIHM but all year round. For example, in every anthology I edit, I make sure the author list is representative, including a fair number of women; the HWA runs something called The Seers Table, to promote diversity including on basis of gender.
Where did you discover your love for all things that go bump in the night, or splat on the walls?
I’ve told this story many times now – I discovered an anthology called Thin Air, edited by Alan C. Jenkins in the school library when I was nine, and took it out every week for two years. When I left, the boy and girl who’d come top that year got to choose a book from the library as their prize, and it was no surprise to anyone that I chose that one. I still have it, and still love it. It’s a huge anthology of horror, containing so many of the classics: ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W.W. Jacobs; ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilmore; ‘The Treasure of Abbott Thomas’ by M.R. James; ‘William Wilson’ by Edgar Allan Poe’… so many more. That set me firmly on the path of horror fiction, and it’s still my first love.
Want to find out more abut Marie? So do I. Links below, after a very impressive Bio.
Marie O’Regan is an award-nominated author and editor, based in Derbyshire. She’s the author of three collections: Mirror Mere (2006, Rainfall Books); In Times of Want (2016, Hersham Horror Books), and The Last Ghost and Other Stories, (2019, Luna Press), as well as a novella, Bury Them Deep (2017, Hersham Horror Books), and her short fiction has been published in genre magazines and anthologies in the UK, US, Canada, Italy, and Germany, including Best British Horror 2014, Great British Horror: Dark Satanic Mills (2017), and The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories (2018). She was shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story in 2006, and Best Anthology in 2010 (Hellbound Hearts) and 2012 (Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women). She and her co-editor were also shortlisted for the 2019 Shirley Jackson Award for Best Anthology and the British Fantasy Award for Best Anthology for Wonderland (Titan Books). Her genre journalism has appeared in magazines like The Dark Side, Rue Morgue and Fortean Times, and her interview book with prominent figures from the horror genre, Voices in the Dark, was released in 2011. An essay on “The Changeling” was published in PS Publishing’s Cinema Macabre, edited by Mark Morris. She is co-editor of the bestselling Hellbound Hearts, Mammoth Book of Body Horror, A Carnivàle of Horror – Dark Tales from the Fairground, Exit Wounds, Wonderland and Trickster’s Treats #3, plus the editor of bestselling The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women and Phantoms. She is Co-Chair of the UK Chapter of the Horror Writers’ Association, and is also the Managing Editor of Absinthe Books, an imprint of PS Publishing. Marie is represented by Jamie Cowen of The Ampersand Agency.