G'day Pippa and welome to the Couch Of Chaos.
Did you have to defrost your front door lock to make it today? It certainly is a bit bloody horrible outside. So glad are nice and warm in here. Oh, Myk is having a great time out in the garden with Murray's dinosaur and the remaining Snow-Yetis. No, the dog won't hurt him. Well at least I don't think so. Anyway here is your coffee and cake, shall we get this party started?
From where do you hail, and what is your modus operandi with the blood soaked pen?
I’m from England originally (born in Oxford), but I was a RAF brat, so we moved around a lot. I’ve been living in the Scottish Highlands for the last three years, with my fellow author and husband, Myk Pilgrim. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by all sorts of wonderful countryside and interesting folklore, up here in the arse-end of nowhere.
I tend to write speculative fiction, almost all of it is supernatural. I love the idea of inserting something weird into our daily lives. Whether that be origami that folds space and time in “The Un-making of Jennifer Hawkins” (Released in 13 Wicked Tales by the Wicked Library) or a book that compels you to complete it in blood, in “Abyssal Fluid” (Due for release in a story collection next year).
I find myself setting more and more things in the 80s, just to quell my thirst for neon lights, and synth music. Most my work has been released through my co-owned publishing company Pugnacious Press, or through the amazing Wicked Library podcast (which you should most definitely check out, with my latest story release, and the season 10 finally being, “Close your Mouths and Clench Eyes Tight” a Haitian bogey man story – here’s a free link to the audio adaptation by Guy Fortt.) https://thewickedlibrary.com/1020/
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.
My favourite story which has been released to the public is “The Un-making of Jennifer Hawkins” It follows the story of a young girl who discovers that by folding paper, she is able to fold space and time. Things inevitably go wrong, as they do when you mess around with forces greater than yourself. I love this story because I was able to really delve into my science nerd side, I’ve always loved physics, and things to do with space and death scare the crap out of me, so it was also a challenge to write.
A close second to this story is a series I’m currently working on, I’m aiming to finish it this year, it doesn’t have a finalized title, and so I don’t think it would stand a chance in the ring with “Un-making”, but we’ll see come the end of this year. It is horror meets erotica, think Fifty Shades of Demon cock, but without the terrible writing.
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.
My process normally consists of dividing a story into bullet points. I decided roughly what I need from the story start to finish, for example - *Main char gets a dog, and goes to shop.
As I write, I fill in the gaps with more specific detail. This works for the most part, but I do find that I can sometimes write an entire draft and not really make the characters relatable. Not that they’re so sub/amazing humans, just that you don’t give a shit if they live or die. There’s nothing I hate more than reading or watching something, and you just don’t care about the characters.
So, that’s what I’m currently working on improving. I could also really do with a new laptop, this one takes about an hour to get up and running, gives me enough time to get distracted, and find cake and coffee.
All of our characters have elements of ourselves woven into them. Which poor character is most like you?
I do tend to put a lot of myself into my characters, I can’t help it. I find it’s a good way of working through issues. With “Abyssal Fluid” I was going through a particularly crap break up as I wrote it. I’m sure it’s super unhealthy, but it was great to turn the ex into not only an arsehole, but an absolute piece of shit in a story. You know, really put those emotions into it, and when it’s done, you can walk away, or kill them off, your choice.
Other than that, it’s throwing in little insights into my life, or places I’ve been. There’s a lot of life influences in the short story collections such as “Poisoned Candy”, “Rancid Eggs,” and “Bloody Stockings” which were released through www.pugnaciouspress.com over the last three years.
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.
“Ah, good afternoon. I can see you’re terribly busy, but if I could just have a moment of your time. Yes, I know you get approached by a lot of people with ideas, but these, these three ideas are exactly what you’re looking for. How do I know what you’re looking for? Women’s intuition, am I right?
So, you and a group of graduate friends pitch in to purchase an old court building and are converting it into apartments, for yourselves and to sell. You, a 30-year-old married lesbian in a wheelchair, and your wife are taking a ground floor apartment and are adding the finishing touches, as the rest of your team are finishing the upper floors. All except the top floor where the doors don’t open. Until you are drawn up there one day when a friend gets hurt, you discover an open door, a desk, and dangerous mystical artifacts that could change your life for the better— or worse. The desk itself has a dark history entwined with a historical trial of a murderer and his victims.
No, not your sort of thing. Right. Okay. How about LUX, six intertwined worlds are in jeopardy and until you fell through that rabbit hole in a botanical garden, you had no idea. You join a team of people fighting against a great evil, an evil earth has been protected against for a hundred years. There’s magic, history, and demonic activity. You’ve known all along these things were real, now you’ll have to remember who you are to defeat the darkness.
Right, you liked that one, but it’s not quite what you’re looking for. Alright, I’ve got it. Intravenous Sin.
It’s the future, the poor buy the sins of the rich, so the rich can live free of the horror of their sins, and the poor hold it within themselves, it’s worked fine for years. The rich stay “pure”, and beautiful, the poor become twisted and evil, but we all know evil can never really stay contained. Sometimes the darkness gets out. Oh, you like that one, great! £100,000,000 for it, perfect, where do I sign?”
What is the greatest challenge to women succeeding in horror?
A lot of the challenges we face are related to expectations of women and our behavior. Unfortunately, there is still this image that women are to be submissive, fuck that. We’re to remain pleasant, and sweet, never swear, or talk back, *gives society the middle finger*.
It’s all bullshit. Some of the strongest, most kickass people I’ve ever met are women, and gender fluid people. In horror I’ve seen people get reviews, lambasting the fact a woman has written a story with sex, or gore. I mean, come the fuck on, it’s 2021.
In my opinion women have more of a connection to blood, sacrifice, and pain, than any man. It’s not even that I have any issue with men, I don’t at all. I just think it’s time all these preconceived notions of dainty women, not daring to push boundaries, gets buried, along with the people, who dare to say women can’t.
Women can and will.
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?
Well, of course you’d be my first guest. I have a huge array of booze and snacks, so help yourself. Next through the door would be Nikola Tesla and his Pigeon (they count as one, I said he could bring her along with) They’d tell us about their inventions, their ideas about the future, and how things could be worse, if his death ray had ever gone public. He’s sat on a chair in the corner with a small glass of white wine, he brough his own bottle, and isn’t sharing it, people tend to steal his stuff, don’t you know?
Here comes Keanu Reeves, he’s just so chilled out, he’s brought beers for everyone, even though I said he didn’t have to, he’s pulled up a chair by you, and he’s asking what you’re reading, he loves to read.
I can hear music in the distance, it’s really bringing life to this dinner party-cum-gathering, it’s David Bowie, and he’s brough a guitar. He’s strolling around the room and jamming to songs we all know and love, even Nikola is singing along, awkwardly, I might add.
Last, but not least is Death, I invited him to tell us why. He isn’t quite the life of the party, but he imparts a small nugget of wisdom for all of us. He has so many tales to tell, and we all collapse on cushions until the wee hours talking about the past and the future. Death says he “can’t make any promises”, but we’re somehow ok with that.
How do you determine success for yourself?
Success is all about change, it’s not about hitting some mark, or finishing a project. It’s about learning from the things you did or didn’t do. I’ve learnt a lot over the last few years about achieving things. We’re fed this image that a successful life is all about being rich or famous. I think success is fulfilment, it’s finding joy in the minutia of life.
What inspires you? No, don’t look at me.
I’m inspired by a huge array of things, from the shape of a tree, to an old desk outside a charity shop. The last two writing inspirations I’ve had are, the film, The Serpent and the Rainbow, which inspired “Close your Mouths and Clench Eyes Tight” and the story I’m currently working on, for an un-named project is called “And Just like the Movies” which was inspired by things like Jumanji, The Matrix, and others.
Myk is also an inspiration for me, he’s brought so many ideas, and different ways to approach story telling. Without him I wouldn’t have grown in such a well-rounded way, as a writer, over the last three years.
Tell us, why should we read your work? Don’t say because it is better than mine.
All works are unique, whether you’re reading something from one of the greats like Barker or King, or reading a classical work such as Wuthering Heights. All authors grow from the seeds of those who came before us. If you’re looking for something honest about its inspirations, that touches on the strange and peculiar nature of our world, and the worlds beyond, I can serve that to you in spades.
If you’re a science nerd that loves the 80s, I’m your gal.
And if you want to know why your neck itches when you walk past that house in your hometown. You know the house, the one your mother told you to never go into. You see it sometimes when you’re sleeping, its peeling red door burned on the inside of your eyelids. Then I am the story weaver for you.
I Think We All Need A Bit More Pippa Bailey in Our Lives...
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