Continuing the celebration of women in horror and the contest to win a copy of Ink. Here is the interview with Damien Angelica Walters that I promised.
Do you consider yourself a horror writer?
That’s a good question. Am I? If I had to label myself as something other than just a writer, I’d go with speculative fiction writer, not because I think negatively of the term horror but because what I write tends to span across the spec fic umbrella. My most recently published short story, “The Serial Killer’s Astronaut Daughter“, is science fiction and I have a story coming out in Nightmare later this year that I almost didn’t submit because I wasn’t sure it was dark enough for the magazine. I prefer to let people label me however they decide; I’ll just keep my head down and keep writing.
At what point did you realize you were afflicted with the horror writing bug?
I’ve always been partial to darker-tinged work when it comes to books and movies, so I don’t really think I was afflicted with the horror writing bug so much as it’s just what I’m naturally drawn to. Not certain what that says about me, but…
What inspired your novel, Ink?
My son wanted a tattoo for his eighteenth birthday and on our way out of the tattoo shop, I joked about writing a short story about a guy covered in tattoos, a guy who’s addicted to ink, who gets ‘just one more’, and then all his tattoos come alive and devour him. That’s not quite how Ink turned out, but that was the initial spark that started the story.
Do you have any tattoos yourself?
Yes, I currently have six: A Celtic dragon in the center of my back; a Celtic knot between my shoulder blades; ‘Once upon a time’ on my inner right forearm; ‘A paper tiger to swallow me whole’ on my inner left forearm; a curlicue on my right inner wrist; ‘Nevermore’ on my outer right ankle.
Congratulations on your upcoming collection of short fiction. If you had to pick a favorite child, which story would it be?
That’s a tough one. I have a few that speak to me for different reasons, but I think my favorite is “Girl, With Coin”, which appeared in Shimmer 17 and will also appear in my collection.
What are you working on now? Do you have another novel waiting in the wings? Maybe one about a cello with the taste for human blood?
Interesting you mention that. My recent human cello story has inspired a new novel, or maybe the novel idea was there already and just needed a spark to bring it to life. Either way, I’m in the New! Shiny! phase where the blank pages are filled with infinite possibility. Give me a month and I’ll no doubt be in the This is the worst thing ever. What was I thinking? phase.
I have four other novels sitting around in various states of progress although three of those four are about to be tucked away permanently in the trunk of forgotten things and one is in the hands of my agent.
What’s a day in the fabulous “writing life” of Damien Angelica Walters like?
Coffee, email, coffee, freelance editing work, coffee, words. Rinse. Repeat.
Do you have any particular writing rituals or daily goals?
When I’m first drafting a novel, I usually set a daily word count goal, but I’ve started writing the new one longhand (a first for me) so I’m not sure if I’ll set a daily page count or not.
I am fascinated when I hear writers discuss their struggles with the actual act of writing. Is writing a joy or a chore for you?
Both. There are days when the words flow and the excitement of filling up the blank pages is a great rush. There are other days when the words won’t come out right or the story won’t come out right and I end up gnashing my teeth and muttering under my breath. Luckily, I have more days of the former rather than the latter.
Have you read any good horror by women lately that you can recommend? Anything that’s blown your mind or made your skin crawl?
Hair Side, Flesh Side, a collection of short fiction by Helen Marshall, is brilliant. Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales, edited by Paula Guran, is a collection of short fiction and some of the stories are definitely within the realm of horror.
Who are some of your favorite authors or whose work do you draw inspiration from?
Some of my favorite authors are Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and Jacqueline Carey, but lately I’ve drawn inspiration from E. Catherine Tobler, Sunny Moraine, and Helena Bell, three incredibly talented women whose prose makes me weep, and I mean that in the best possible way.
Hard hitting question time. Coffee or tea? Beer or wine?
No contest. Coffee and wine.
Anything else you’d like to share? Any particular question you’ve always wanted to be asked?
Where do you get your ideas? I know, I know; writers don’t ask each other that because we know, without a doubt, that those ideas are buried deep within the brainmeat and require a strong constitution, an ice pick, and tweezers, to get them out.
Thanks for your time, Damien.