To start a piece of work, it takes what I call a glimpse. A glimpse of something that is interesting, unique, and worth building a story around. Being a horror writer, for me that glimpse is usually something terrible. But that terrible glimpse leads to the idea for a suitable protagonist, antagonist, and goal. Then details of the story follow. For Underworld Games, that glimpse was of a kid in a flood tunnel vault in pitch darkness tracing the word “Loser” that was carved on his forehead, and then the terror when he saw light down the tunnel, and footsteps coming towards him. So, that is how this story starts—with the glimpse of terror.
V.A. Vazquez: My husband loves to speculate about the day-to-day lives of henchmen in action films. Like when they go home for dinner at night, do they have to explain to their spouses that Mr. Big Baddie spent a billion dollars on a laser gun instead of making a larger contribution to their 401(k)s? When it’s Career Day at school, how do they explain their profession to a group of fidgety four-year-olds? Do we see so many British henchmen because they don’t need private medical insurance through their employers? So when I was asked to write a story for 13 Victims, I decided I wanted to write about two low-level drones who get caught up in trouble that’s way above their pay grade.
My grandmother regaled me with stories of William Faulkner, who lived on her street when she was a little girl. She also knew Eudora Welty from college and told me about the measures Eudora would go to just for some peace of mind or solitude in which to write. It’s enough to make me realise how good I have it when I want to slip into my office, and that I really have no excuses for slacking.
This is an industry of rejection and to be successful, an author needs to be able to never throw in the towel, no matter the hard road ahead of them.
What inspires you? Nature inspires me, along with smells, music, pictures, people I’ve met, places I’ve gone, and my own experiences—pretty much anything and everything.
What kind of research do you do? I love research and mine is all over the place, depending on the story. Recently, I’ve been researching a local witch legend for my chapter in an upcoming Black Hare Press 13 anthology. In 1800, a girl was buried alive in a cemetery 30 minutes from here. Although she couldn’t speak, jealousy surrounding her beauty led to her accusation and execution as a witch. I’ve also been researching Hurricane Katrina for a different story.
London, 2113.Racked by riots and ruled by corporations, London has grown to house over twenty-million people. Its limits stretch across the south-west of England.Pollution chokes the skyline, hiding the stratoscrapers of The Mile, London’s exclusive centre, from sight; though its gaudy neon signs penetrate the smog. Corporations rule after the collapse of the mid-2000s. The NHS, under strain from underfunding and the barrage of pandemics, chemical attacks and terrorism, found itself sold off, piece by piece, to the highest bidder. The augmentation companies moved in; buying what they liked. The National Health Bank rose, supplemented by other privatised care centres.
The idea of Mount Terror first came when I was reading and studying the history of South Pole expeditions. From James Clark Ross’ scientific expedition and discovery of the Ross Ice Shelf, to Robert Falcon Scott’s deadly trip to the geographic South Pole, and the search party that followed Scott’s death, I was fascinated by the stories of endurance, of survival and the passion that animated these great explorers.
The twist is that there is no twist and that would be a hell of a twist in itself because you would be looking for a twist but there wouldn’t be a twist because I promised you a twist and you were expecting a twist so the twist is that there is no twist but then you’d just be disappointed that there was no twist and I couldn’t say I always include twists.
Pick six to eight questions to answer, they said. As if narrowing down a lifelong love of words is so easy. What if I pick the wrong ones? What if the ones I don’t pick haunt my dreams? It’s crowded enough in there!
Ever the poster child for “I’m grown! I’ll do what I want!” I chose…uhm…more.