Today I’m posting my interview with the incredibly talented and prolific Rose Blackthorn, whose story “Beautiful, Broken Things” in Wrapped in Black: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult is absolutely captivating. Reading the first few paragraphs I knew I needed to read the rest of this story.
Michael: Wrapped in Black is an anthology of stories about witches and the occult so let’s get right down to the meat: do you believe in magic and the powers of those who claim to practice it? There’s no wrong answer, of course, but if you say yes and then don’t tell at least a little of the story I am going to be serving some serious side-eye.
Rose: I do believe that there is more than just what we can discern with the five basic senses. Call it magic, psi, a 6th sense or what-have-you. I think there is a certain amount of truth to manifesting your desires, or what you send out is what you get back. Do I believe in the “Charmed” or “Harry Potter” kind of instant gratification? No (although it would sure be fun! and I spent a lot of time as a child trying to twitch my nose ala-Bewitched) but I do think we affect things with our minds beyond just what we can perceive.
Rose: Why not? I love horror! I’ve written mainstream fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, romance and erotica, and I always come back to horror, at least as a part of the tale. To me horror combines everything – humor, love and betrayal, fear, pain both physical and emotional – and it seems more honest than, say, a romantic comedy. There are campy horror stories, of course. But people in horror settings seem to me to be most true to the human condition. In extreme circumstances, people can break and prove to be pathetic and deserving of pain. Or they can rise above, learn the strength of their own characters and the bravery of their own hearts. And I think most people will agree that there is evil out there, waiting to get us. Things that hide in the dark, even if it’s just the darkness of a twisted heart. So to me, most of the time, the horror genre is the stage for a story of hope. That no matter how dark and awful things become, there’s always the hope of a better day, a happy ending. That in the end we can defeat the monster, and live to see the next bright dawn.
Michael: As writers, we’re supposed to be tired of being asked where we get our ideas. (Personally, I love hearing myself talk.) Thus, I’m not asking that: I’m not asking from where in your brain your ideas come (unless you want to tell me). Instead, I’m curious as to whether there’s a physical location or activity you find particularly helpful. For my part, I go running when I need ideas. There are specific trails and dark wooded places where I can put my body to work on that repetitive task and my brain will eventually start coughing up inspiration.
Rose: When I first started “spinning tales” I used to go out and walk the fields around my grandparents’ house. I’d just walk through the high grass and stands of trees, sometimes for hours on end and tell myself stories. Now that isn’t so much of an option. Usually, I can just find a quiet spot to sit and think, and that’s enough to get the muses muttering. On occasion, when I’m really stuck, I’ll get in the shower. I don’t know if it’s the comfort of warm water, the moist air, or maybe just the sound of the water splashing but I can almost always get a good idea or move past a plot hole by doing so.
That being said, I get a lot of story idea – at least the place or tone – from dreams. I often wake up with the unraveling memory of a neon-lit street, or an abandoned town in my mind’s eye and can get a story going from there.
Michael: What work (horror or otherwise) do you most wish you had written, and why?
Rose: That’s a difficult question, because there are so many great ones out there. The answer will probably change, too, depending on my mood. But at this exact moment, I’m going to say Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut by Stephen King. It may be my favorite piece in Skeleton Crew (and there are some great stories in there! The Jaunt, The Mist, The Raft, Word Processor of the Gods), and I still think of it from time to time. I love the voice of the narrator and the story-teller, and the way the tale is told. This story gave me chills, and I still read it with my mouth hanging open, or making little noises when I reach the words that strike home. This is a story that is told not shown, which is a no-no according to most of what I’ve been told. But every time I read this short story, I fall into it head first. Homer Buckland, who tells his story to our narrator, speaks with the accent of Maine but it is comforting and real, and doesn’t take me out of the narrative. It’s a story that taught me a long time ago that there are strange, unknown things hiding beneath the fabric of everyday reality. That’s a powerful thing, and opens the door to imagination.
Michael: You and your favorite writer are stuck in an elevator while repair crews try to rescue you. What do you ask them? Do you have a grand time together or do they eagerly anticipate their escape?
Rose: Heh – honestly, if I was in an elevator with my favorite writer (any of them) I don’t know if I’d be able to get a word out! Some stuttering, a bit of verbal dyslexia maybe. Bet I’d be able to make a complete fool of myself – and blush! I can blush with the best of them.
Michael: What’s next for you? How can we keep up with your future goings on?
Rose: I’ve got several stories coming out in assorted anthologies. I’m working on an urban (rural?) fantasy/alternate universe novella, and trying to finish an epic fantasy novel. Oh, and I’m putting together a collection of poetry and photography. Plus, I keep getting pulled in by short story submission calls, so whatever strikes my fancy. As far as where you can find me, here are the links:
Twitter – https://twitter.com/rose_blackthorn