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The Grim Keepers
Author Interviews

Kevin Grover - The Dead Ringers

1. What is your favourite part about writing scary fiction?


I like seeing if an idea can creep me out. As a horror fan it takes a lot to do that. Good horror for me is about a strong idea and coming up with that initial idea is the fun part. When I'm writing a horror story I love getting the pacing right. Sometimes a few short sentences followed by a long one is like the beating heart of someone who's just seen a pair of feet sticking out beneath a curtain when they think they are all alone at night. It's fun to write like that and - who's that standing behind you? 


2. What inspired your short story for this anthology? 

There's an old idea about people in Victorian times being scared about burying people alive so they'd tie their wrists to a string attached to a bell. If they woke up in their coffin they would ring their bells. I had this image of all those bells in a graveyard ringing at night and that gave me chills. Imagine being on your own in the cemetery with ringing bells of the dead come 


3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why?


There's this old urban myth about a babysitter. The best urban myths begin with a babysitter. Anyway our hero babysitter is on her own with the kids upstairs in bed. She goes to check on them but is creeped out by their large toy clown watching from the corner. The parents phone to see how she's getting on and she says fine but that's one scary clown you in their room. She's told to call the police. They don't have a clown toy. Turns out it's a local weirdo midget who dresses as a clown and breaks into kids rooms. I remember being quite scared of James Herbert. His books not him. I'm sure he's a great guy. But most of his horror is raw. Even the titles are like a slap in the face scary: the Dark. The Rats....

Sharon Flood - Bollywog

1. What is your favorite part about writing scary fiction? 


I love to creep people out. I'm the sort of person that jumps out at people from dark doorways.


2. What inspired your short story for The Grim Keepers Anthology? 


I like the genre itself. I'm a Stephen King fan. I wrote a much milder version on my Writer's site, and adapted it for this anthology.


3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why? 


The one story that still scares the crap out of me is the Alfred Hitchcock thriller "Psycho'. I was about 11 when I saw it first, so the fact that I was so young, and because I had nightmares for weeks, is why it scared me the most.

Crystal M M Burton - The Open Door

1. What is your favorite part about writing scary fiction?


My favorite part so far is the conception. More specifically, being able to create, design, and bring to life everything that goes 'bump' in the night. I think being the creator helps soothe my own fears and paranoia about the paranormal and unexplained; I get to do the explaining, and that clears up a lot of what makes fear so terrifying.


2. What inspired your short story for this anthology?


My short story was inspired by my own fear that, one day, my self-deprecation and low self-esteem would come back to haunt me. One of the most important lessons in life is to love yourself, so I combined that with the old superstition that breaking a mirror brings bad luck.

3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why?


There is a book by John Saul called The Homing. It is by far the only story that has ever truly frightened me. The basic premise of the book is that a young girl gets stung by a bee and becomes infested. Yes, I said infested. Unfortunately, the infestation almost immediately affects her brain, and she loses all control of her body--while keeping full conscious thought--as she begins to take on the qualities of a hive queen. This book appeals almost entirely to my fear of bees, and even tosses in a wonderfully gruesome method of torture and murder that will have you begging to keep your feet off the ground when the lights are out.

Tony Stark - Remus

1. What is your favourite part about writing scary fiction? 


My favorite part about scary fiction is the more subtle, spiritual aspect of horror. I like finding the place where culture meets horror and expanding that membrane, making myths and legends meet the modern day. 


2. What inspired your story for The Grim Reapers anthology? 


My inspiration for this story is, of course, the Roman legend of Romulus and Remus. With the fading of the year, the plight of Remus the famous ghostly brother seemed fitting. I combined it with oriental ideas of Yang and Yin, because in the old myths, demigods didn't just die that easily... So I asked, what happened to all the life Romulus stole, and what dark place would that have left his brother?


3. What scares you most? 


The things that scare me most are stories without beauty, hope and redemption. That's not a good scary, either, but a horrible terror. The current obsession with worlds and movies that are post-post apocalyptic in nature, where everything is FUBARed and a 'happy' ending is merely some twisted form of survival for another day, that scares me. It scares me just as much that people eat up these bleak tales as that people can think to make them, let alone make them into gigantic movies. So much energy goes into them; like any creative product, it propagates itself in the world. That is truly scary.

Alex Benitez - The Man in the Black Hat

1. What is your favorite part about writing scary fiction?


I guess that would be scaring people. Writing is supposed to extract emotions from its readers and I feel satisfied if I know that has happened. Most stories have an array of emotions it can potentially extract, but not horror. Fear, uneasiness, despair; these are the only emotions horror should extract.


2. What inspired your short story for this anthology? 


Quite clearly a couple of things. The Slender Man is a big one. I like the whole modern myth of it and that's what I was trying to do with this short story; A new Bloody Mary in town. I also have a long theory with horror and certain juxtaposition elements. I went off the theory that seeing a bear is scary, but seeing a bear in front of a new born baby is just horrifying.


3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why?


Not many stories actually scare me, but I find an episode of the Twilight Zone exceptionally creepy. The episode is called 'And When the Sky Opened Up' which is about three astronauts who made it back to Earth. One of them suddenly disappeared into thin air and only one of the other astronauts even remembered him. It wasn't like he died he just blinked out of existence and the other man goes mad trying to have everyone remember his forgotten friend. Inevitably the second man also disappears leaving the last one as the only astronauts who remembered him; that's what I found scary. Being that last guy, because now not only does he know he too will eventually blink out of existence and be forgotten, but that there was also a friend that he knew for years that he can't remember.

Interview with Roy Daman - Tip of the Hat

1. What is your favorite part about writing scary fiction?


Fear is the final adventure. We are united in the fright on what is not known. The exhilaration of not knowing if we will survive the encounter. That is something our psyche understands extremely well. It rests inside our reptilian brain. It is the mechanism that engages our fight or flight response. Fear is something we all have in common, and in which we are equal. It unites us. We all understand it, and are compassionate towards those who are caught in its grip.


2. What inspired your short story for this anthology? 


When I entered my early adolescence I began to experience what I called night terrors. Dreams that gripped me in inexplicable terror from which I could not awake. I used to experience these as often as every night. By the time I passed my mid-twenties they were more seldom. Later, doing research for a writing project, I read about peoples experience with the hatman in their dreams, and those who initiated such encounters through overdosing on Benadryl. From what I’ve read, unless pissing yourself out of fear is your idea of a good high, then I would suggest avoiding it at all costs. What I’ve read makes me think twice about even using the allergy medicine at all. Those experiences, coupled with my love for folklore and spirituality were the inspiration for Tip of the Hat.


3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why?


There are plenty of stories out there that wrest sleep away from me. The Shining stands out as one of the more horrifying works I’ve read. Yet, there are plenty of creepy-pastas on the web that have equally chilling stories. I suppose the reason why The Shining gripped me so was because Jack was legitimately a good fella. He had his weaknesses, and the hotel pounded at them until there was nothing else. He was possessed. The hotel wanted to kill, to add to the menagerie of ghosts that stayed there, and it was able to do that through Jack. Even with the best of intentions he could do nothing to oppose it.

Interview with Laura Callender - Cherry Oak Road

1. What is your favorite part about writing scary fiction?


Writing scary fiction is very new to me. I was very nervous about producing a piece of work that would elicit fear in the reader, or at the very least an accelerated heart beat. As I started writing, I would write a scene then push it a bit further to make it eerie or uncomfortable. When I would explain what I was doing to my husband, I would give myself goosebumps. That’s when I started to settle into it, and enjoy the challenge. It didn’t come naturally to me, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.


2. What inspired your short story for this anthology?


I am a very organic writer. I look up at the sky and come up with a first sentence then just keep going. I have always loved Autumn trees, and tree lined streets have always been a bit scary at night, when you hear that rustle of dried leaves and can’t help but think something is going to creep up on you. I wanted to add in the element of surprise, and a little bit of gore, without falling into the ‘scary movie’ trap, when everything is painfully obvious.


3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why?


When I was younger I was terrified of the soundtrack to a British medical drama. It had beeps and breathing tube sounds, and it just sounded like death. I literally used to leave the room because it upset me! Naturally I grew up to become a wimp, and I hated the film ‘The Terminator’. I quickly learned scary stuff wasn’t for me. Blood and gore doesn’t phase me, but it’s the suspense and not knowing that plays on my mind. When people try to tell me to watch things like ‘Saw’ I am so adamant that it’s not my thing. I realize I’m missing out on some great ideas and very creative work, but what can I say, I’m ok being a wimp! Writing scary stuff is so much easier than watching or reading it, because I know whats going to happen next!

Interview with AJ Millen - Evil Eye

1. What is your favourite part about writing scary fiction?


I think there is a deep need in us all to be scared. Why else would horror fiction be so popular? We need to be shocked, surprised, feel the deafening beat of our heart at the base of our throat when walking into the dark room for fear of what’s lurking there. 


For me, it’s less about ghoulies and ghosties or a list of characters you could find in the Hammer House of Horrors, and more about the delicate balance of good and evil in us all, and how that manifests itself. To dig down to what really scares us, we have to look inside. Inside ourselves, inside the communities we live in, inside the things we do. 


My thought process is something of a mix of pop psychology, sociology and anthropology with a hefty dose of the fear of the dark and whatever it was that was hiding in the cupboard or under our beds when we were kids.

 

There’s a strong element of ying-yan or natural balance in the way I think when writing short stories, but not necessarily in the way you might expect. It’s not always the bad guy who gets his come-uppance. Rather, there’s a sense of constant calibration of our everyday thoughts, deeds and actions and their unavoidable consequences. I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog, so it does give me a sense of enormous satisfaction when someone deservedly gets their just deserts. I don’t always know what’s coming – sometimes the stories take on a life of their own and I’m just along for the ride. Sometimes that in itself is a little scary, but exciting.


2. What inspired your short story for this anthology?


Although I grew up in England, with its own rich traditions that could scare the boots off you (and gave me many a sleepless night as a child), I have married into a fairly traditional Greek family. As such, I have had to absorb a lot of traditions, folklore and customs. Though most are connected to the Greek Orthodox church, they go back much further to pagan roots. 


That’s why so many are common throughout the Mediterranean, regardless of religion. I wanted to examine how those ancient and maybe powerful influences at work in a modern-day context. 


I must admit there is also an element of autobiography in the tale – harking back to my own experiences of mean girls at school and memories of unbelievable tiredness that took me to the very edge when my son was a baby.


3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why?


It’s probably the news headlines and the stories behind them that scare me most. We are bombarded with tales and images more horrific that anything the most warped writer’s mind could create. I can’t think of anything more chilling that the daily reminders of the capacity for evil there is within us all – and the knowledge that the only thing that separates us from the victims is circumstance or sheer dumb luck. 


Perhaps what makes a story truly scary for me – whether in the news or in a piece of fiction – is the knowledge that it happens to ordinary people. People like you, me, the girl at the checkout, the old guy who trims the trees at the park. Stories set in absolutely familiar places, but then twist to make the mundane horrific. 


Truly scary stories are not about blood and gore. They’re written to make you feel you know the people involved, and care about what happens to them, before the unthinkable happens. That’s why Stephen King is so successful. He is first and foremost a master of creating believable characters we can all identify with, before throwing them into whatever the plot has in store for them.

    Interview with Rachel Fox Sterling - Crepuscular

    1. What is your favourite part about writing scary fiction? 


    I’ve always loved scary stories and films and although I’ve never seen a ghost I like the idea of the world being more complicated than we might think. I also have what I like to think of as a healthy morbid curiosity so when I write the two naturally come together. I find writing scary and gruesome stories cathartic, it’s a kind of release from the real world and most of all its just plain fun. I can let me imagination run completely wild with no constraints. There’s no better way 


2. What inspired your short story for this anthology? 


Crepuscular is one of those rare and wonderful stories that arrived in my mind pretty much fully formed. It was easy to write, I didn’t have to think about it too much, it grew organically and I just followed its lead. I’m not sure where the inspiration came from although I had been watching a paranormal documentary about shadow people just before I wrote it so that may have been when the seed was planted. 


3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why? 


I found this question really difficult but fun to think about. I read a lot of scary stories and watch a lot of scary films and I tend to enjoy them rather than find them frightening. If I had to pick a favourite ghost story it would be ‘The Signalman’ by Charles Dickens just because it’s so short and perfectly formed. The stories that have affected me the most in the sense that they stay with are the Ian McEwan early novellas. The Cement Garden and The Comfort of Strangers are so incredibly grim and gritty and realistic that after you’ve read them you feel like you will never get clean again! So, although they’re not really horror or paranormal, I think they are the scariest stories for me.

Interview with Jason Pere - Lethal

    1. What is your favourite part about writing scary fiction?


    I like exploring ways to induce fear that is mixed with curiosity. Literature has the disadvantage of being a medium that your audience can easily disconnect from simply by closing the book. I like to find a way to give my reader a scare while keeping them engaged in the story. 


    2. What inspired your short story for this anthology? 


    Largely the inspiration came from the Godsmack song "Demons". I got it in my head that people who work long term on Death Row inevitably gave to start carrying some very intense emotional baggage wether it is conscious or subconscious. I figured that there was a story to be told in that somewhere.


    3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why? 


    I remember reading the "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" books as a younger child. They got into my mind an made me keep the lights on for a while. I remember thinking that it was not a smart choice to read those books.

Interview with Cayce Berryman - Crafted with Daddy

    1. What is your favourite part about writing scary fiction?


    I'm not much of a horror writer. I have never enjoyed scary movies, nor have I liked reading scary books. Writing it was a change, and it was interesting. It felt different to have the ability to not necessarily worry about the ending because it could be as abrupt or slow as I wanted. 


    2. What inspired your short story for this anthology? 


    The prompt to do so. I work off prompts a lot, and I don't typically say "no".


    3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why? 


    One that has stayed with me since my childhood is Night of the Living Dummy. It's not supposed to be scary, but it scared me then as much as any horror would now, and it's one of the primary reasons I never read horror.

Interview with Charlotte Rose Lange - Darkness Calls

    1. What is your favourite part about writing scary fiction? 


    I'm not a horror writer. The first story I submitted for this anthology was rejected because playfully dark is different than spine-chilling gut-spilling fear. Not one to turn down a challenge, I googled "how to write horror" and the best advice I found is that horror is personal. So I brainstormed my childhood fears and settled on how the darkness seems to slither about the room at bed time, nudging picture frames and breathing life into the dirty laundry pile. And what if the dark where to come over here and slide up my nose. Well just in case I'd better seal off every possible entrance with my Lion King quilt. Which is to say, my favorite part of writing horror is the last sentence. In horror the last line holds more power than other genres - and it also means I don't have to write horror anymore.


2. What inspired your short story for The Grim Keeper's anthology?


As I said in the first response, the fear in the story is an extension of my childhood 'squeamishness' toward the dark. I wouldn't say I was "inspired" to write this story. The motivation came from a 48 hour deadline and urge to prove myself in a new genre. On day one, I wrote up to the main character going up the stairs. That night I woke up many times to jot down disturbing tid bits, which was great for the story, but not great for a good night's sleep. In a way I enjoyed the process of writing horror, but most of me doesn't want to dabble in that again. 


3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why?

 

The hobbits are sleeping soundly in four child sized beds at the Prancing Pony. The Ring Wraiths silently and lethally surge through town. They creep into the hobbits' room and spread out: one by each bed, humungous swords poised to chop up little hobbitses. And then STAB STAB STAB and a flurry of feathers. (Spoiler alert: the hobbits are fine.) Even so, the moral of the story is don't sleep where they can find you. Not a great lesson for a young child to take to heart. Even now if I break a high enough fever I usually end up on the couch. That minute of Ring Wraith confusion when they don't find me in bed is crucial to my daring escape. 

Interview with Kathrin Hutson - And You Will Not Be Afraid

    1. What is your favourite part about writing scary fiction? 


The best part of writing scary fiction (and this counts for writing terrifying and/or shocking fight scenes and such in my fantasy and sci-fi, which is what I mostly write) is getting into that moment in my characters' heads where they make that shift from doubt to belief to sheer terror. In that pivotal moment, the entire universe, all of existence and reality, changes for them. Anything is possible if they can move past that fear...but that's the hard part.


2. What inspired your short story for The Grim Keeper's anthology?


This was actually the first short story I ever finished - from ten years ago! I don't write much horror, and I have to admit the idea wasn't even mine. My mom had woken up in tears one day and explained, in vivid detail, the nightmare she'd had the night before. I loved the story so much that I wrote it, with embellishments, of course. I can't take full credit for the spooky portions of this short - it came out of my mom's head.


3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why?


The scariest story I've heard is actually one told by a friend. My husband and I used to live in Charleston, South Carolina, and one of our friends (along with his three roommates) believed they had ghosts in their house. Charleston has some pretty popular ghost stories and tours, with accounts that may or may not have been true. But when our friend shared his experiences of living in the house at the time, I never doubted him. We'd sit outside on the porch, drink beers, and all get goosebumps and watery eyes from the stuff he'd tell us. I've never met a ghost myself, but I believe those who tell me they have.

Interview with Virginia Carraway Stark - Annie's Fetch

    1. What is your favorite part about writing scary fiction? 


    My favorite part about writing scary fiction is that I never know what is going to happen next. I think that my sense of suspense is nearly as strong as the reader's when I write it. I enjoy the sensation of letting my mind go to the darkest corners of my mind and see what I find there. It's a good way to sweep the cobwebs out and to explore what really scares me. I don't set out thinking, 'is this going to scare people'? I just let her rip and see what terrifying tale rips out of me. I've had a few stories that I've scared myself so badly that I had to stop writing until someone came home. The scariest example of this was when I was living in a basement suite in Vancouver and I was home all alone. I was writing a scary story about a girl who was haunted when I saw a white face with a black hood peering in the window watching me. The face darted away as quick as anything but I was pretty wigged out. I closed the blind and went to another window and looked out and a figure in a black hoodie was standing under a tree watching the window. I later found out that I had collected a Peeping Tom but finding out when I had already scared myself intensified my fear exponentially.


    2. What inspired your short story for this anthology? 


    Annie's Fetch is closely inspired by my own sighting of my doppelganger. I have never seen my doppelganger before or after that event but I nearly died from blood loss about two months after I saw that other 'me'. She was much like what I described Annie's doppelganger to look like. Fortunately I survived and a year later I have most of the four units of blood that I lost back and I'm pink and normal again. I am working on a true story of seeing my own fetch and what happened after that encounter that you can read in November's copy of Outermost Magazine available at www.starklightpress.com as well as other places. 


    3. What story have you heard that scares you the most? Why?


The story that scared me the most when I was a kid was 'It' by Stephen King, followed closely by his novel Pet Cemetery. The movie Jaws terrified me. I was so scared of sharks after that that I would hold my hands under the faucet to make sure no little sharks snuck into the bathtub without me noticing. That particular phobia of bathtub sharks was brought to me by my older brother who pointed out the little sharks in a pet store to prove to me that it wasn't only giant sharks to fear. 


Jaws and IT are similar tales. They are stories about deep, cthonic forces that rise up and strike those on the surface who believe that they are safe when really there is danger lurking all around. The idea of those giant forces that you don't see coming are the ones that really scare me. The dangers you can plan for and reason with are much less frightening. 


Pet Cemetery scared me because it was the first scary story I had ever read. I love animals and my pets are so important to me that I could relate to the idea of deciding to do something crazy and extreme to bring one of them back. This progression to a human that 'comes back wrong' is somehow even more scary when compared to our love of animals. 


Ultimately what scared me the most though was the Indian burial ground itself. What was its original purpose? Why had they made it in the first place? What horrors had caused them to abandon it? Somehow I think that they didn't do it to bring pets back alive. The reasoning behind the cemetery itself still bothers me when I think about that story or read it. It's an ancient mystery, something unseen, impossible to understand that lurks in the deep regions of our minds and of the world.

Interview with Rachael Steele - Resident 7K

1. What is your favorite part about writing scary stories? 


My favorite part about writing scary fiction was pushing myself out of my comfort zone and attempting it. Trying to think scary was very challenging and I have a new found respect for anyone who specializes in this genre. Thinking scary is one thing, trying to put that into words is another.


2. What inspired your story 'Resident 7K' for the Grim Keeper's Anthology. 


The short story 'Resident 7K' was inspired by my neighbor who lives in the apartment above my bedroom. Having just moved to New York city, you get to know your neighbors through the sounds they make before actually meeting them face to face. I must stress it's only the sounds of the boots that I hear - no scratching yet!


3. What story have you read or heard that scares you. 


The stories that scare me the most are ones that contain ghosts and spirits. They say you should never be afraid of the dead but you can't help but wonder what is truly around us sometimes. I guess we will all find out one day.