I recently participated in the 2013 Wicked Women Writers Challenge with a host of very talented (and very wicked) women writers. Leigh M. Lane is one of my fellow contestants and she agreed to do an interview for my blog. Enjoy:
I’ve been a horror enthusiast since I was an adolescent, Stephen King having thrilled and inspired me into trying my hand at it at a young age. I completed my first novel at fourteen, but it wasn’t until years later when I wrote my second. I now have thirteen novels under my belt, ten of which are published. I also enjoy screenwriting, drawing, painting, and singing. I have a soft spot in my heart for animals, and up until a few years ago, I managed the pet care department at a local pet store.
2. Out of your ten published novels and twelve published short stories, which three stories are you most proud of and why?
I’m most proud of Finding Poe, World-Mart, and Myths of Gods.
Before writing Finding Poe, I studied Poe’s works for several months, reading and re-reading them to get an accurate feel of his language and style. The novel is a tribute to his legacy, piecing together elements of his best short stories and poems into an original work that speculates the inspiration behind his writing. I think I did a good job of emulating the feel of his stories, particularly his Gothic works, and I’m particularly proud of the twist ending (although, much to my surprise, only about half of its readers have been able to grasp).
World-Mart was, in part, my response to my various experiences working in a corporate setting. The chains of command and their ever-changing policies that seemed to have more to do with placating the customers than creating an efficient working environment eventually begged the question, “How scary would the world be if corporations replaced all government?” I’d set the story on the back burner for about a year, and then when Kurt Vonnegut died, I found myself inspired to revisit the story as an homage to him and what felt to me to be the death of a literary era. I’m most proud of this novel because of the responses readers have had to it—both positive and negative. It’s evoked some strong emotions, and that’s important to me as a writer.
Myths of Gods was the first novel I completed after my hiatus. I’d written dozens of short stories, but tackling another novel had felt so daunting at the time. I wrote it as a statement about the evils that can arise when the lines between religious dogma and politics become blurred. I think it’s a necessary statement, one I’m definitely proud to have explored.
3. What is one piece of writing advice you would give a new writer?
Take your time to learn your craft before pursuing publication. There’s a difference between talent and skill, one being innate and the other slowly developed through experience and education. Never refuse or discount advice from those with more experience than you. Sometimes it can be difficult to hear harsh critique, but you won’t grow as a writer unless you understand your weaknesses and learn to address them. A little humility will take you a long way.
4. What is it about horror that appeals to you?
Horror is the greatest possible analysis of the human condition. We can say a lot about the great evils in both society and humankind through the symbolic guise of monsters and evil forces. It can be as provocative as it is thrilling, as serious as it is entertaining, and as informative as it is imaginative. Many genres are able to do this, but only horror is able to take it to such profound extremes.
5. What are your top three favorite horror stories?
My favorite horror stories are The Shining by Stephen King, The Servants of Twilight by Dean Koontz, and “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe.
6. If you win the coveted Most Wicked spot for the Wicked Women Writers challenge, what themes are you considering for next year’s challenge?
I’d like to offer the theme, “The Monster Inside Me.” I think there are many possibilities there.
7. Favorite adult beverage? (Mocktails are also acceptable answers.)
I love margaritas, both blended and on the rocks, with salt. Yum.
8. Tell us about a favorite protagonist you’ve created. What sorts of challenges did you throw at her/him?
My favorite protagonist is Finding Poe’s Karina. I challenged her sanity as well as her identity, putting her through great tests of character and endurance before finally slapping her with the fact that she is not even remotely the person she thought she was.
9. Why should I pick you for my zombie survival team?
I know karate.
10. What are you most afraid of and why?
I’m terrified of losing my eyesight. I noticed my first blind spot a little over a year ago. When I sought medical intervention, I ran into one brick wall after the next. Of the little I do know, my immune system is attacking my retinas and there is little anyone can do to help. That first blind spot has invited a few friends since it first appeared, and the damage appears to be progressive. The fear of going completely blind, especially as a writer, has been the source of many sleepless nights. I feel like Milton mourning “how my light is spent.” It’s my boogey man, the shadow looming in that dark corner of my room, the monster threatening to take away all that makes me who I am. It scares the hell out of me.
You can find out more about Leigh by visiting her website: www.cerebralwriter.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
To listen to the audio podcasts of the 2013 Wicked Women Writers Challenge, head to horroraddicts.net. Text versions of the stories can be found at the horror addicts blog. Vote for your favorite story by sending an email to: email@example.com. Deadline for voting is October 7th.