Tell us, if you don’t mind, a little about yourself.
I’ve written about 100 short stories that have appeared in a wide range of publications. Some of them have been translated into Italian, Czech, and Japanese editions. I also write novels, poetry, and nonfiction. My work has won the Bram Stoker Award five times.
Aside from writing, I am a servant to four cats and I play a lot of board games (things like Pandemic, Arkham Horror and Suburbia rather than Monopoly). I live in Columbus, Ohio, which has become a great place for good restaurants, free summer concerts, and nice places to go hiking.
I’m also heavily involved in the academic world. My day job involves editing academic materials and creating online courses for Franklin University. For the past six years, I’ve been a faculty member in Seton Hill University’s Master of Fine Arts program in Writing Popular Fiction. This summer, I graduated from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont with my own MFA in creative writing. The Goddard program was the first in the world to offer a low-residency format — students go to campus for a week in winter and summer but otherwise work independently — and it’s supportive of genre writers. I had a rewarding experience there.
Can you tell us a bit about your story that appears in Turn to Ash, Vol. 1?
I wrote my Turn to Ash story, “While the Black Stars Burn”, at Goddard after I was invited to submit a story for the Cassilda’s Song anthology, which is a World Fantasy Award-nominated anthology of King in Yellow tales. I knew I wanted to write a story evocative of the Robert Chambers story “In the Court of the Dragon” and also evocative of Lovecraft’s story “The Music of Erich Zann” but which was not a copycat pastiche of either one. This was during my first winter residency at Goddard; the heat wasn’t working well in my dorm room, and my being profoundly cold and under-slept definitely influenced the story!
Could you give us some background on how you began writing, and in particular, what drew you to writing horror?
I wanted to be a writer pretty much from the moment I learned how to read; my desire to be a speculative fiction writer was firmly cemented after I started reading books like Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time. I thought to myself that if I could write something that made another person feel the same shivery sense of wonder and excitement I got from my favorite books, then that would have to be the best job in the world. But I’ve also had nightmares for as long as I can remember. For instance, when I was three or four, I had a recurring nightmare that a large pile of avulsed eyeballs would chase me around the third-story wraparound porch of our house in South Carolina; the doors were locked and I couldn’t get away from it. I wasn’t allowed much TV back then, and my parents certainly hadn’t taken me to see any scary movies, so I’m not sure where all that came from. People said I would grow out them, but I never did. My brain is a nightmare factory. Even now I can generally count on having at least one memorable nightmare a week, and the damned things have plots. So writing horror feels pretty natural to me.
Do you have any recent and/or upcoming work that you’d like to share?
I have a fair bit of new fiction coming out. I have a trio of Lovecraftian stories in various anthologies. “Executive Functions” will be in You, Human and “The Gentleman Caller” will be in Return of the Old Ones, both from Dark Regions Press. My story “Sunset on Mott Island” will appear in Shadows Over Main Street, Vol. 2.
I’ve also been writing media tie-in stories. “The Scenic Route” is in X-Files Vol. 3: Secret Agendas; it features Mulder and Scully investigating mass hallucinations in a small town in North Carolina and takes place right between the 3rd season episodes “The List” and “2Shy”. My futuristic heist story “Moon Palace, Serpent Sea” is in Catalyst Game Lab’s Shadowrun Tarot anthology.
“What Dwells Within” is in Shadowed Souls, an urban fantasy anthology edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie Hughes. My story features Jessie Shimmer, the protagonist from my Spellbent series. And the fourth novel in that series, Devils Field, is tentatively scheduled to be out at the end of December from Alliteration Ink.
Where, if anywhere, can we find you on the Internet?
You can find me on Facebook and on Twitter.