Valerie Willis #WiHM
G'day Valerie and welcome to the Couch Of Chaos. Fantastic of you to drop in on a Sunday and the last day of the month. Though I started #WiHM one day late due to change of month confusion, so I will be back tomorrow with one last lady. Anyhoo, Valerie, yes please that is your coffee. Would you like some cake? Oh, you heard about my cake? Terrible rumours, just nasty. OK, lets get this started.
From where do you hail? And what is your modus operandi with the blood soaked pen?
I suppose the best way to put it is I love straddling that line between historically accurate and the paranormal. For example, in “Fiery Mary and the Dog Days of Summer” the reader and main character find themselves seeing a woman in red apparition. As the locals make it clear that she’s part of a superstition, we watch as folklore turns into reality. I write horror that makes you pause and can see yourself being pulled into the events too.
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.
More time! At the current moment I am struggling to find time to write between being a Lead typesetter by day and COO for 4 Horsemen Publications by night. Add on the family, self care, and unforeseen chaos and it becomes a real struggle at times to defend my writing time. But I still manage to put something down daily.
OK, imagine I am a wealthy film producer (I did say imagine) and you are stuck in an elevator with me, or, maybe I'm stuck in an elevator with you. Hit me with three elevator pitches.
Superstitions folklore comes to life and a stranger in a strange land falls victim to the woman in red when he doesn’t follow the rules.
Lydia is at her 7th psychiatrist attempt when it becomes clear her hallucinations are very much a personal haunting from a ghostly stalker that trashes the office. (https://www.inkitt.com/stories/romance/173312)
A little girl encounters a talking manatee while celebrating her birthday, and it plans on indoctrinating her to serve the Antichrist. https://www.inkitt.com/stories/humor/73306
Tell us, why should we read your work? Don’t say because it is better than mine.
Readers looking for haunting or dark romance elements tangled in horror or paranormal elements will find my work hard to put down. I draw a lot from mythology and if you are familiar with enough history and stories, you’ll find it delightful to see how heavily I’ve packed these aspects into the characters, world, and plot. Antiheroes, flawed characters, and demons are par the course in most of my stories. I do have a soft spot for vampires, though I do my best to reinvent to the wheel and drag in the history to change the expectations.
Is there one thing you would have done differently in your writing career?
MORE MARKETING. If I knew how heavily success was on newsletters and marketing even way before pushing out the first book, I would have put that to good use. It’s a little late for that now, but for all those seeking to write and be successful authors, GET A NEWSLETTER! RESEARCH THE MARKETING FOR YOUR GENRE! It can take you from no-name to bestselling faster than you can imagine!
Who, is your favourite monster?
In my books? Romasanta, father of werewolves. His story was crafted by a wide variety of legends and history but watching him struggle and overcome only to self-defeat is rattling. He’s a monster not of his own choosing and constantly reminded that he’s only a man and doomed to make mistakes. His story shows centuries of his actions impacting the world, and he drives himself mad with guilt. A vicious cycle.
In general? Oh, that’s so hard. I think it has to be the Shag Foal. Something about a paranormal being that managed to be in 1927 Naturalist journals tickles me and no matter where the legend comes from, the ghostly horse chasing people to their deaths or eating them is an amazing concept. Especially when we have footage of deer catching and eating birds… one has to wonder if there’s some truth to carnivorous horses… hmmm…
Other than reading my work, what are your goals for 2021?
To get to the point where I can write more! It’s fun that my career allows me to create books for fellow authors, but I do want to write and complete some of my own. This year I am aiming to get book 5 of The Cedric Series out, King Incubus, along with The Priest’s Assassin under V.C. Willis. In between, I’ll be bumping out short stories and novellas for my erotica pen name, Honey Cummings, along with workbooks to help authors in writing and formatting their own work. Super excited. It’s a lot, but I can do it!
All of our characters have elements of ourselves woven into them. Which poor character is most like you?
Oh man, there’s a lot of truth behind this. I am always pulling myself or even people I know in whether it’s a single trait or blend. I think I am most like my character Dante from The Prince’s Priest. He overthinks and denies himself of the things he wants for what he believes is the greater good for everyone or the people he cares for the most. This is the only series I write in first person narrative, and part of me can’t help but accept the fact is because I’m guilty of the same flaws, minus the fact he’s a vampire prince!
What is the greatest challenge to women succeeding in horror?
There’s this whole “gamer mentality” where horror is only for boys. Girls shouldn’t write it; it’s not meant for them and that’s not true! Scary movies have been the go-to dating movie for generations, and excuse to lose your emotions to what you’re watching while physically clinging onto your date for dear life. If girls weren’t supposed to partake, then why are so many main character female? Why is it included and often expected to be part of early intimacy with special people in our lives? Horror is more of a girl’s calling and it’s about time we take up our pens and write the kind of stories we wish we could read and watch!
Where did you discover your love for all things that go bump in the night, or splat on the walls?
Chronicles of Narnia introduced me to some interesting characters and beings. I remember being pleasantly surprised to discover in history and mythology that satyrs and minotaurs have been part of stories dating back to ancient Greece. As I’ve dug deeper, chasing tales until I can find the oldest or first variants, I began uncovering the dark history and events that often sparked them. Red Riding Hood, for example, began as a story after a township mayor was caught eating the village girls and ravaging them as he were a wolf. He was tortured to death by the villagers, but he was recorded saying how he delighted in shaking their father’s hands the next day while giving his condolences. When it comes to horror, real life is often scarier than one’s imagination.
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