Do-It-Yourself Horror!: An interview with Nadine L’Esperance.

“I made a French film without knowing French.  I take opportunities and use what I have.”

Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, Nadine L’Esperance and her film company Blue Girl Films is everything that is right with independent horror film making these days.

Fresh ideas, twisted gore, entertaining films from start to finish and, above all else, a budget that any passionate horror fanatic can appreciate.  Nadine prides herself in not only representing the horror community the right way, but tackling obstacles and achieving results that good old fashioned cash simply can’t compensate for.

Whether she’s telling the tale of a young girl forced to find her way home during the zombie apocalypse or inviting us to a tea party from Hell with quite possibly the creepiest sweet lady in North America, Nadine takes the beloved grittiness of 1980’s horror and adds a fresh coat of blood red paint to it.

With both films of hers currently enjoying success on the film festival circuit, Nadine has the horror pulse firmly in her grasp, and she’s not about to let go anytime soon.

MANGLED MATTERS: As a proud DIY no-budget filmmaker, what are some of the more creative solutions you’ve come up with for sudden problems while shooting?

Nadine L’Esperance: Luckily I didn’t run into many problems while shooting.  My major problems arose in the editing phase where my computer experienced many many crashes.  On Maya’s Journal, I used balloons filled with blood for the cool gushing from zombies.  But when we had to do extra takes I started running out of blood.  The last bloody scene was supposed to splash on a clear camera guard but that was the last of the blood and I missed my shot.  The only snag I came into on Madame was the cookie box.  I forgot the box at my house and was on set already ready to shoot.  So I went through the cupboards of the house to look for a substitute and found a tea box so I turned it inside out and taped it.  HAHA!  I’ve been very lucky to not hit many snags.

MM: Who or what have been some of the more invaluable tools in your learning to be a filmmaker on the fly?

NL: I would say my inspiration was Jen and Sylvia Soska.  They have given me so much encouragement behind all of this.  It’s awesome!  I don’t have any formal training in this at all except I did go to make-up school, what seems like a millenia ago.  I kinda just decided to make a film for a zombie short contest and never expected things to progress like they have.  I have definitely found what I love!

MM: Blue Girl Films is your production company in which both films under the label have achieved awesome success on the film festival circuit.  Congratulations!

NL: Thank you, Justin.  Maya being not even a year old and Madame being 3 months old, all of this is a big dream and quite exciting.  There will be more festivals,I’m sure of it!

Madame Soleil’s tea is to die for!

MM: Madame Soleil’s Tea Party is a trip! I’ll never think of a tea party invite the same way again. I love how you brought the Texas Chainsaw Massacre feel to a quiet little suburb setting. What was your inspiration for this film?

NL: It’s funny actually.  It happened by chance that I was introduced to Marie-Claire Valiquette from Patrice (The Milkman) who had met her at the French community center.  He showed her Maya’s Journal and she loved it.  She actually is an acting coach and she mentioned she would love to be in one of my films.  Unfortunately, two other shorts I am writing didn’t have a part for her.  So one night it just popped in my head to use her as a crazy old lady killer.  I wrote a script, made it simple for translation as some of you may not know, I don’t speak French.  That’s also why I love this short.  I made a French film without knowing French..hahaha..I take opportunities and use what I have.  A vital thing for no budget.

MM: Maya’s Journal is everything I want in a zombie movie- fun, gross and entertaining! You deserve a round of applause for taking on just about every role behind the camera. As a no-budget project, what were some of the most difficult obstacles to overcome while making the film?

NL: Operating two camera’s and directing at the same time was difficult.  Being my first film, too, I really should have just used one.  Doing the make-up to and trying to organize everyone was also tough because I had to focus on everything else too.

MM: You really hit the reset button on the zombie genre with Maya’s Journal, from the origins of the virus to creating one hell of a kick-ass female hero in the form of young Nyka L’Esperance.  What’s the latest info on where Maya’s Journal is screening?

NL: I wanted something different than the classic zombie movies.  I think people like to know how the virus came to be, I know I do.  Nyka did a really good job as Maya and she had so much fun doing this role.  She was a guest on a podcast with me and asked if she rather be the killer or victim, she obviously chose the killer.  Maya’s Journal is part of the Killer Film Fest in November this year.  So stoked for that!!

MM: Was the role of Maya written specifically for Nyka?

NL: I’m a big believer in using what’s available to you.  One of the things that creeps me out in horror films are kids.  So yeah, I was thinking, what’s better than making a little girl who seems pretty shy and quiet into a smiling zombie slayer?

Sure, they’re chowing now, but wait til Maya shows up..

MM: As a fan of the classic cheese from the genre (namely 70’s and 80’s style), what are some of your favorite horror films of yesteryear?

NL: Evil Dead for sure!! I have two Evil Dead tattoos. I’m a big fan of creature features like Critters, Ghoulies, C.H.U.D, Piranha.  I also love Creepshow, my first horror movie! American Werewolf in London.  There are so many,this list could go on forever.  70’s and 80’s cheese is my favorite too.

MM: It seems to me that independent horror has absolutely obliterated Hollywood horror for the better part of the last decade, at least. Your shorts prove my two biggest points when arguing Hollywood vs. Indie- you don’t need CGI to make an entertaining film and enough with the remakes, come up with some fresh ideas! As a filmmaker, what makes for a great horror film in your eyes?

NL: I like a creative story.  I agree you don’t need CGI.  Gore that is made is so much more better in my eyes.  I love the comedy/horror mix as well.  They seem like a perfect match.  Fresh ideas and twists are up my alley.  Indie horror is by far better than Hollywood and all the stupid remakes coming out.

MM: If you had to choose 3 horror films to represent your love for the genre, which titles would make the list and why?

NL: Evil Dead is exactly what I’m about and hope to be as a filmmaker.  Hellraiser is there too as it’s sick and demented.  Very nasty too.  Critters has the air of being over the top ridiculous and highly entertaining.  I hope this is what you meant.

MM: Having already taken on the psycho family and zombie subgenres, what’s next for you and Blue Girl Films?

NL: I have two shorts in the writing phase right now. I can’t quite let you know what they are yet. But it will be something different and gross! Same style though of cheesy fun!

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I sincerely appreciate Nadine’s enthusiasm, time and patience with this piece.  She is one of the hard working women in the indie scene and I can’t wait to see many, many more years of her fantastic work!

Be sure to check out Black Flag TV, where Nadine contributes as well!

Posted in horror, horror films, independent filmmaking, Nadine L'Esperance, Uncategorized, Women In Horror, zombies | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Exclusive Interview with Elza Kephart, writer/director of Go In The Wilderness

“With two sticks and a quarter, we dug ourselves up there.”

 

The latest film from acclaimed independent director Elza Kephart promises to be one of the most moving pieces on the film festival circuit when it makes its debut.  It certainly proved to be the most ambitious project of Kephart’s career thus far, as she has written, directed and produced the project.

Go In The Wilderness is the story of Lilith, a captivating character in Biblical references and one of the strongest female characters ever written into literature.

From the official GITW website:

“The origins of Lilith are, like most myths cloudy and multifaceted. She was originally believed to be a Sumerian divinity credited with being, among other things, the first Goddess of agriculture. When Goddess worship declined and female deities were forced to wed Gods, Lilith was married to Adam, supposedly to explain away the two version of Creation in Genesis. However, this marriage was of short duration; Lilith refused to lie below Adam and was banished to the shores of the Red Sea.

Hebrew Scriptures go on to say that after her flight she was wed to Sammael (the Hebrew Devil) and joined with him to tempt Eve into the secrets of Tantra, the divine sexual union. Soon after, Lilith was turned into the prototypical succubus, a defiant seductress and child-killer whom the ancient Hebrews had to ward off with talismans. The wild and free aspect of feminine sexuality symbolized by Lilith had become distorted into the lascivious, unmarried she-demon. My intent with this project is to explore this little known myth and to offer a new interpretation of one of the first truly defiant women.”- Elza Kephart

The title of the film is based on an African-American spiritual song, ‘Go In The Wilderness’ is about finding out who you are as a person, not simply the story of Lilith.

Just this morning, I had the wonderful chance to speak with Elza about her latest project, what it was like filming way up on the North Coast of Quebec and why she loves the horror community.

Lilith (Stephanie Chapman-Baker) and her guardian angel (Kevin Jake Walker) meet Adam (Devin Estes) and Eve (Julie Michelle Johnson)

MANGLED MATTERS: The backdrop to this film is absolutely breath-taking. How long was the shoot way up on Quebec’s North Coast? Was it one long consecutive shoot or did you break it down?

ELZA KEPHART: It was definitely a consecutive shoot, because it took us twelve hours to get to the furthest point we were at!  We shot for five weeks.  We shot for a week around Montreal, and then we went up North and shot directly on the North Coast for… three weeks.  We drove to the Charlevoix region for about a week of shooting, so five weeks total.  I got inspired to shoot up there when writing the script.  I wanted to see if it was feasible to shoot up there, so we went up, looked around, saw the island, the region, the rock… and I said we should maximize this shoot as much as we can.
A lot of people don’t know about the area, because most people don’t go that far north.  It’s just one road- you have to take the same road going back as you do going up.

MM: Were there any different protocols as far as licenses/permission/etc, to get a film crew up there as opposed to in a studio or in a more populated setting?

EK: Actually, it was much easier to get permission.  There aren’t many films that shoot up there, and people are proud of their region so we pretty much shot for free.  The island we shot on is owned by Canadian government and is also a natural reserve.  We shot for free because it was good publicity.  It was almost like the Far West- a lot of the land isn’t owned.  The government owns it, but it’s available for any Canadian to use and go on.

MM: Shooting way up there, in the absolute bare elements, were there any real obstacles you were faced with during filming?

EK: Oh yeah, for sure! (laughs)  The hardest thing was getting to the sites themselves.  It’s hard.  They aren’t accesible right off the road.  I needed to shoot really far in for most shots,  so we’d have to rent 4x4s to carry all the gear on.  Loading up gear and people at 3 in the morning… that was really hard.  The bugs, there were a lot of bugs… bears running across the road.. running through the fog…  but it was a pretty great shoot- it was a young crew eager to participate.

We didn’t have much cash, so going to the island was tough.  With two sticks and a quarter, we dug ourselves up there but we went to the wilderness for a reason!

We learned a week after our shoot, we were staying in a small town just off the coast, and a big $8 million shoot came up.  They had an airplane to take all the cast and crew and equipment.. they were staying in the same little old hotels we were staying at!

The Canadian government is really opening the North up for mining and such, so there was a mini exploration going on and it was actually quite expensive up there, because of the huge hydro dam, to find a place to stay.  Everything was expensive.  We didn’t have local volunteers- they were busy having high paying jobs at the super market!

MM: You’ve drawn comparisons to Graveyard Alive (Kephart’s directorial debut in 2003) and GITW, what with both female characters being strong, independent women demonized or ostercized from their natural surroundings and forced to adapt to a completely different landscape, physically and psychologically. You can argue that the story of Lilith is one of the best examples in feminism in literature/mythology. Thoughts on that?

EK: I think that’s definitely what attracts women to this myth, is the strength of Lilith.  I first read about her in college.  I liked the myth itself- the story, it really spoke to me and who I was.  It said “you can do it, even if it doesn’t make the most sense.  If it isn’t an easy choice right now, in retrospect, you realize it was the right choice”.

Go In The Wilderness isn’t a feminist message, it’s a feeling of “I can do this.  It sounds crazy, but I can do this”.  If you don’t like something “just the way it is”, choose for yourself.

Both films (Graveyard Alive and Go In The Wilderness) are about loners who need to rebuild their world.

MM: I love that idea.  I read and watch horror and films about loners and it makes me feel good, like “hey, I’m not the only weirdo out there like this!”

EK: I love genre films.  Go In The Wilderness isn’t a horror film, but it has a lot of the themes I love in horror.  I was the girl who read Anne Rice, loved Halloween and horror movies.  After Graveyard Alive, I found a community that was like me.

MM: How long did it take you to develop such a thought provoking script?

EK: It took quite a long time.  I was in my late twenties and realized I was unhappy with how my life was going.  The story of Lilith popped back in my mind.  She’s always there when I feel at the end of my rope.

I wrote the first draft five or six years ago.  It was very wordy, a lot of talking.  The rules of the world had to get figured out.  I had to put it aside, it was just too much.

Then a friend said to me one day a few years back, “Do this one. It’s small and unique. You can re-write it.”  Two years ago, I re-wrote it and decided to do it.

MM: You put together one of the most decorated crews I’ve ever seen for an independent project. What did it mean to have so many exceptionally talented professionals working alongside you to make this film become a reality?

EK: It brought the film to an entirely different level.  The DP (Glauco Bermudez) was great, he’s got a great eye and he believed in the story.  The art director (Mathieu Giguere) and costume designer (Henry Fong) were introduced to me on a big Hollywood film shoot.  We became friends and they wanted to help with this project.  The editor (Mirenda Ouellet) hadn’t done a feature yet and was raring to go.  She was amazing to work with.  The sound designer (Martin Pinsonnault) took everything to a new level.

If you fail on a fantasy film, people aren’t going to get into the world you are trying to take them to.  You need to create an entire world that people will get into.  It’s a unique project.  It works in a very simple, short, concise way.

 

 

I’d like to sincerely thank Elza for her time and kindness in doing this interview.  Not only is she an incredibly talented filmmaker, she also is one of the warmest people I’ve ever had the chance to speak with.

The crowd-funding campaign for Go In The Wilderness begins on October 16th.  Be sure to keep your eyes peeled here at Cup Of Stars for all the latest news and updates on this fantastic project!

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Posted in Elza Kephart, Go In The Wilderness, independent filmmaking, Viscera Film Festival | Tagged , | 4 Comments

The King’s Ladies: Stephen King’s ultimate characters.

 As his sixty-fifth birthday winds down, I decided what better way to reflect on arguably the most prolific horror author of all time’s career than by celebrating the strongest female characters in Stephen King’s library of work.

 King has made quite a living over the last 39 years weaving tales that haunt, inspire and entertain.  While most of these main characters have been males or creatures born in nightmares, there has been a healthy collection of novels driven by female characters in Mr. King’s catalogue.

It has always fascinated me that King can so easily tap into the female psyche with such a strong conviction.  It takes a truly talented author to do what King has done for almost four decades.  However, as King himself once famously said, “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”

Happy Birthday to one of the hardest working men in literature.  Here’s to many, many more.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the ladies who have left their mark on King’s career and our dreams and nightmares.

Winifred Torrance / ‘The Shining’

While Shelley Duvall is widely recognized as Wendy Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of one of King’s greatest works, it’s Rebecca De Mornay who portrayed the character of Winifred far more accurately in the less publicized (and less acclaimed, although it won two Primetime Emmys) mini-series back in 1997.

In the book, Winifred is a woman who has lived through hell and back with her husband, Jack, a recovering alcoholic.  Jack becomes an all-around psycho once the family locks themselves into The Overlook Hotel for the duration of a winter up in the mountains of Colorado.

Winifred is not only pitted against Jack and a violently haunted hotel, she also must keep her tormented son Danny in check as she fights for their survival.  Duvall’s portrayal was terrifying, but it did absolutely no justice to the strong female character King created in his epic book.  De Mornay not only looked like the Wendy we all rooted for in the book, she also was the Winifred who kicks ass and survives the horrors of The Overlook Hotel, making her the leading lady in King’s literary universe.

Carrie White / ‘Carrie’

It all started in 1973 with a novel King all but gave up on when he trashed a few pages of a short story manuscript.  Luckily,  his wife fished the papers out of the trash and encouraged her husband to finish the intriguing premise.

King flexed his creative muscle right off the bat, telling the tale of a high school girl trapped in a home and a life run by her religiously zealous mother.  Aside from the torment of being a maturing young woman in a household where practically everything is a sin, Carrie White also possesses the supernatural ability of telekinesis.

A reversal on the Cinderella fairy tale spun in a way only King can conceive, the story of Carrie White is not only terrifying in the visceral sense, it also introduces the reader to a young girl who we grow to love and root for, even as she is burning down the very town that has long since torn her down.

Annie Wilkes / ‘Misery’

Annie Wilkes just might be one of the most widely recognized cinema psychos of all time.  It’s even more awesome that she is even more terrifying, insane and evil in the book that the film starring Kathy Bates was based off of.

Wilkes is a country bumpkin type of lady who only wants to make sure her beloved book series ends to her liking.  When she has the chance to incapacitate and hold author Paul Sheldon against his will, Annie jumps at the chance.

The mythos of Annie Wilkes is a deliciously horrid one- we are led to believe she has murdered dozens of people, including several babies while she was a nurse at a hospital, before falling into seclusion in her farm home and spending her days reading paperbacks.

Whether it’s forcing him to drink soap water, cutting off his foot and then cauterizing the wound with a blowtorch, or slicing off his thumb with an electric knife, the book version of Annie Wilkes is downright nightmarish.  Of course, the film version isn’t a saint either- who doesn’t know of the quartering scene?

Susannah Dean / ‘The Dark Tower’ series

Odetta Holmes, Detta Walker, Susannah Dean.  The woman is known by three names throughout the series, but one thing is for certain- she is an all-around bad ass.

Brain damage caused after being assaulted as a child leaves Odetta/Detta with split personalities- the defined and moral Odetta Holmes and the vengeful, hate-filled Detta Walker.  After the two separate beings come together by the power of ka, the woman comes to refer to herself as Susannah Dean.  Susannah is the middle name both women share, while Dean is the last name of Eddie, the man the woman grows to love during their journey with Roland of Gilead through the eight books in the series.

As the only member of Roland’s ka-tet to not die at some point in the series, Susannah is arguably the most resilient woman in recent literary memory.


Lisey Landon / ‘Lisey’s Story’

A beautiful mixture of psychological terror and romance, this is one of King’s most underrated works as far as the mainstream reading world goes.

A widow still struggling to cope with the loss of her famous author husband two years earlier, Lisey finally musters up the courage to slowly clean out her husband’s writing area.  After being tormented emotionally and physically by a crazed fan of her husband’s, Lisey is forced to begin to realize her marriage wasn’t as plain and simple as she’d like to believe it was.

Lisey transports to an alternate world her husband Scott fondly referred to as ‘Boo’ya Moon’, a world that provides a safe haven for those who inhabit it.  A world that holds a special gift for Lisey from Scott- Lisey’s story.

Special Mention:

Mrs. Massey (‘The Shining’) – No one will ever forget her horrid bath tub scene from Kubrick’s film version, but her tale in the book is equally nightmarish and grotesque.

Jessie Burlingame (‘Gerald’s Game’) – a slow burn of a story, Jessie is the hallucinating lead character who must fight off the demons in her head and in the real world all while handcuffed to the head board of the bed she once shared with her husband.

Mother Abagail (‘The Stand’) – The spiritual guidance of the Free Zone Committee, Abagail represented the wholesome Christianity at play during the end of the world for a small group of survivors.

Did your favorite King female character make the list?  Was she ranked where she ought to be?  I look forward to your comments!

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Posted in horror authors, horror books, literary women, Stephen King, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Elza Kephart will Go In The Wilderness, and you can help!

Awesome news out of Quebec recently, as Elza Kephart has announced that her latest film, Go In The Wilderness , is in post-production and will begin a crowd-funding campaign on October 16.

Shot entirely in the wilderness of Quebec (700 miles north of Montreal), Go In The Wilderness is the story of Lilith, the rebellious first mate of Adam, after she escapes the Garden Of Eden.  Kephart has an innate skill for detail and visual stimulation with her films, so sticking her in the northern woods with a fantastic story line is bound to bring forth bountiful goods.

I was fortunate enough to check out a teaser trailer and I won’t mince words.  The film looks stunning.

GITW has already been shot and edited, financed completely independently thanks to the support of Kephart’s friends and family.  As of press time, Elza is hoping to raise $30,000 to complete post-production.

Please keep your eyes peeled on both the film’s Facebook page and official website for more details and info on how you can help make this film a reality!

 

 

 

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Posted in Elza Kephart, independent filmmaking, Women In Horror | Leave a comment

Writing The Book On Horror: An Interview With Lori R. Lopez

“Behind my prose, I am always an artist and poet.”

Lori R. Lopez was fifteen years old when she realized she would spend her life writing.  Her mother gave her a gift that would change her life- a green Swedish Halda typewriter picked up while the family lived in Hawaii.  At the age of nineteen, Lori moved to Spain where she was editor, a reporter and artist for a US Naval Station paper. By 1997, Lori settled nicely into the world of novellas and short stories, where she currently has built quite a fan base for her eclectic works that stretch to many different genres and oftentimes blend them seemingly effortlessly.

Lopez writes for every reason an author should- she has tales to tell and sincerely appreciates those who are willing to go on the journey with her.  In talking to her, you get the feeling she couldn’t care less about financial gain from her work (a wise man once told me “If you’re writing to make it rich, you’d better pick up a different hobby..”). She has created a wonderful template for the next generation of authors and journalists to follow.

With twenty-one credits to her name as an author as well as a monthly poem column online, Lori is not only one of the most active writers on the indie circuit today, she is also one of the most insightful and vividly descriptive authors I’ve ever read.  While her poems read like short films, her novels flow with a lucid style that resonates beautifully with each turn of the page.

While The Macabre Mind Of Lori R. Lopez: Thirteen Tormentous Tales, a new project recently made available on Amazon for the Kindle, begins to work it’s way through the cyber reading world, Lori continues to work on new projects at a break-neck pace. 

Lori Lopez is a writer, through and through.  She still has plenty of tales to tell.  This is great news for all of us.

1. Writing has been your passion since you were quite young.  You cite Where The Wild Things Are and Legend Of Sleepy Hollow as two books that made a lasting impression on you. Were your parent/parents supportive of your creative itch?

I related to those stories, I think, because they conveyed a sense of imaginative venturing beyond the ordinary and mundane.  There was atmosphere and ghoulish creatures.  Heights of emotion.  The darker side of things.  I had an innate appreciation for monsters of a fictional nature.  Just as I found bats to be cute, and spiders to be unfairly treated.  My parents did not encourage my burgeoning talents in writing and art, drama and music, any more than my mother understood my oddness.  She wanted a normal daughter to adorn in bows and ribbons and curls.  I was not that person.  I buried dead things when I was small.  I hung out in cemeteries on occasion.  She thought I was rather strange, and it felt as if there was a chasm between us.  My father’s favorite expression:  “Artists are a dime a dozen.”  He would substitute “Writer” or “Actor” or “Musician” according to the circumstances.  They wanted me to live in the real world and be like everybody else.  I couldn’t.  And I never stopped dreaming.  I believed in myself.  Fortunately, some of my teachers and a librarian believed in me too.  I will never forget their encouragement and support.  To this day, I am so grateful when someone expresses interest and respect for my work.  It means a lot.

2. You’ve said you’ve known you were meant to write horror.  What drove you to the world of macabre literature?

Well, I don’t think I was driven.  I think I was there already (laughs).  It’s what I loved since those first stories, and the Grimm Fairytales; the kind of movies and shows I enjoyed.  I was The Addams Family Generation, The Munsters.  Being ghoulish in a fun sense appealed to me.  I loved Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The MummyScooby-Doo was my favorite cartoon.  Halloween remains my favorite holiday and season.  Then again, I grew up in a gruesome era, a time when Ed Gein and Charles Manson made Horror a stark reality.  It was The Cold War, an age of fear and paranoia.  I have also pondered whether being abused as a child led me to the macabre.  Yet I really believe it’s just who I am.  Those elements contributed to my development as a horror author and dark poet, I’m certain.  But there is often as much humor as terror.  My brand of horror is a balance of humanity and monstrosity.

3. Your writing stretches from horror to children’s stories and almost everywhere in between.  How do you switch gears from one project to another so seamlessly?

These are some great questions!  I do like to write a variety of things.  In fact, I usually write in genres plural instead of choosing one in particular, though Horror is the favorite.  I consider my written works a danse of language and style.  Behind my prose, I am always an artist and poet.

Unless an anthology comes up that I can’t refuse, I’ll work on whatever I happen to feel most inspired about or in the mood for at a given time.  There are a number of dusty cobwebbed projects I’m trying to get out now because they’ve been sitting around too long.  Including a novel for all ages that I wrote in ninety-eight.  I need to illustrate and retype it onto my computer.  I have some children’s storybooks I wrote and illustrated years ago which need to be out.  And many other books that were started and pushed aside because something else was more urgent.  I keep getting fresh ideas.  I’ve been working on a nonfiction project about my life since eighty-nine.  I was writing songs for decades but haven’t taken time for that lately.  Instead, I publish a monthly column that contains new poems ranging from funny to dark or serious.  I have to drop whatever I’m doing to write the column by the end of the month.  It’s always a challenge.

4. Almost every great horror book or film has a humorous undertone in it at some point.  You acknowledge having an innate funny bone. How do you balance horror and humor in your work, making sure it doesn’t tilt too heavy one way or the other?

You’ve done your homework.  Impressive! (laughs) Let me tell you, that funny business can get in the way at times when I’m attempting to be grave.  It can even take over, alter the tone.  I have to be careful.  But readers should expect some unexpected humor in my writing.  It sort of springs out like a Jack-In-The-Box.  I love quirkiness.  Still, I can be serious too.  I’ve been shoving the humor back into the box for some of my tales.  Just don’t be surprised if it seems very somber and then boing!, out jumps the clown in me.  Well, I have been known to write out-of-the-box stuff . . .

5. It breaks my heart to see companies like Borders go out of business. It’s no secret that books are becoming less prominent in the younger generations’ daily life. With the written word going through a serious transition period right now, where do you see the paperback publishing industry being in five to ten years?

It is a tremendous shame to see bookstores fail.  It’s truly sad that books have become less important.  But I have hope after the success of Harry Potter.  Young people are increasingly distracted by other things, as are adults, but the possibility exists to awaken or reawaken a love of literature.  I feel that we authors, whose lives are about books, need to spread some excitement!  There are enthusiastic readers.  We can create more.

Many existing readers still favor a traditional book.  Yet I fear in five or ten years there will be few bookstores and large publishers, except online.  This seems to be the trend.  E-books and self-publishing are changing the business.  Trade paperbacks will probably replace hardcover more and more due to the need for competitive pricing . . . and the rise of Print-On-Demand.  I believe P.O.D. publishing will continue to grow along with E-books.

6. Your novel An Ill Wind Blows has been critically acclaimed, winning ViNoWriMo 2011 at Vicious Writers.  Tell us a little about this novel and how it came to win this award.

I’m very proud of that accomplishment, especially due to my being a slow writer.  I take time to think about word choice, to hunt for redundancies, to consider the flow and cadence of each sentence.  For that contest I had to meet a deadline each day, a word quota, in order to complete a fifty-thousand-word book in one month.  It was a lot of pressure for me, while some other writers can do at least double or triple that word count easily in a day.  I was struggling.  First Person helped.  Though my novel shifts between First and Third, the First Person chapters would practically write themselves.  My only chance to think, away from my desk and the blank page on my computer screen, was at mealtime and while washing dishes in the morning.  That was when my imagination could roam freely, and I would plan out the next part.

I had a basic idea going in, conjured up when I decided to enter the contest at the end of the previous month.  There was a theme given to us as the competition commenced.  A single word:  Storm.  I applied it to the simple idea that had popped into my head, the few quirky characters including a guy who thought he was a dog.  It fit well, like the missing piece of a puzzle, and the journey began.  My characters were swallowed by an evil wind demon, and the fantasy world I had envisioned would be the belly of the storm.  I state at the end of the book that I honestly don’t know how I managed to write enough words, let alone to write them well enough to win.  There is magic in the story, and there must have been some magic involved with the writing as well.  I am hoping soon to illustrate and release a print edition.

7. What books are you currently reading?

I actually have little time to read.  I unwind and recharge by watching movies or shows before bed.  I am endeavoring to start reading a few of the short stories fellow authors have swapped with me, but it’s sporadic.  Novels are impossible at present.  I used to read voraciously and miss that.  However, I have been taking time now and then to edit for fellow authors and friends I believe in, to help them succeed with their dreams.

8. If you had to pick one of your written works to represent your career as a whole, which would it be and why?

Hmmmm . . . I’m bad at picking one thing.  I can’t decide one favorite color, one favorite flavor of ice-cream, a favorite book or film.  Wow.  I’d like to say An Ill Wind Blows since I was just discussing it, but each of my books has a signature feel and is very important to me.  I put a lot of care into the first two, Out-Of-Mind Experiences and Dance Of The Chupacabras.  But each and every book is special and represents my style, who I feel I am as an author.  What makes me unique.  And yet, as with songs, I never feel that I have written my best.  It is still to come.

9. What projects are you currently working on?

That’s a good question!  I just launched an E-book for a horror collection titled The Macabre Mind Of Lori R. Lopez: Thirteen Tormentous Tales.  I need to format it for print, finish the illustrated print version of Ill Wind, release Chocolate-Covered Eyes (my first E-book) in print . . .  There’s a short story I want to release in October, and another I need to write for an anthology.  So I will try to get all of that done in the next two months.  Then there are sequels to write and some children’s books that need to be published.  All of those are screaming at me to be finished this year.  Wish me luck!

10. Any last words?

How about some first words?  This is the beginning of my short story The Wraith.  It has a Gothic atmosphere.  My books and stories possess their own individual voices and tones; they can differ widely.  I chose this piece because it contains some poetry along with prose.

What is stronger:  the power of the imagination, or of the unknown?  So many forces surround us, it is only natural that sometimes the lines could meet and even blur . . .
If you think about it, we are at the center of an invisible maelstrom that defines as much as diminishes us like erosion.  The mind can be very selective, but what if the choices we thought we made actually chose us?

Breeze stirred a wind-chime of glass stars and moons that dangled before an open window in a studio apartment.  The tinkly tones lent a shimmer of mystery and magic to the moment, transcending the staccato background percusses of a jackhammer, Latino music, a baby’s cries.  Like an artist lowering a brush, the poet laid down her dipping-pen and read over the lines she had indelibly printed on a sheet of thick quality paper.

Around the clockhand’s cuspen nose
As hours grew wee, the heavens dreary
And none could pass the tests of time
With eyes too shot and bleary
There stood a man obscured by gloom
In drabness wreathed, a wraith
Who lingered in the world to catch
A briefest glance, a sign of faith
The wretch could not yet bear to lose
What he had won, a heart complete
The depthless fondness of a damsel
However shorn and fleet
As stars would cross, misfortune shine
Their rapture ruptured stark and dim
Too brittle, fragile, kept apart
Upon a fatal whim
This vagrant walked the graven soil
Where once their strides had left a mark
Anticipating her release
From the shrouds and mists of dark
Whether down some brilliant sunlit path
O’er a barren tousled field
In a restaurant they used to haunt
Would his pacing never yield
A life not lived, a love unfading
The glow a searent unburnt flame
How much he yearned for one last glimpse
His mind was not the same

I would like to sincerely thank Lori for her time, wonderful insight and support with this interview.

If you’ve yet to read her works, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with her work, via her Amazon page!

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Posted in horror, horror authors, Lori R. Lopez, Uncategorized, Women In Horror | 2 Comments