Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Interview - Unsafe Words by Loren Rhoads #scifi #horror #darkfantasy #shortstories

- What is your “day” job if you are not a full time author?

Loren Rhoads: I'm an author full-time. It's the only job I've ever wanted. I think it's funny that it's taken me so long to assemble Unsafe Words, my new book of short stories.

- If you wrote a book about your life what would the title be?

LR: Strangely enough, I've been thinking about putting together a book of my confessional essays. I think the book will be called This Morbid Life.

- What is the hardest thing about being an author?

LR: Waiting! I've been waiting more than 20 years for the world to recognize my genius. How am I supposed to proceed with my plans for world domination at this pace?

- What is the best thing about being an author?

LR: The ability to run away for a weekend and call it research. That's how I ended up going to the Haunted Mansion Writers Retreat, which inspired the first story in my collection, Unsafe Words: the GhostGirls were going to do a hands-on presentation of the tools they use to hunt ghosts, which I was really curious about. Research! In the beginning, I was excited about going and maybe encountering the ghosts of this supposedly very haunted house. Of course, once it came time to pack for the weekend, I realized I was going alone to a house full of horror writers that I didn't actually know. My worries switched from "What if I pay all this money and DON'T see a ghost?" to "What if I'm alone in a house full of strangers and I DO see a ghost?" Spoiler: I didn't see a ghost, but one of them touched me.

- Have you ever been star struck by meeting one of your favorite authors? If so who was it?

LR: I met Ray Bradbury years ago, when I was just starting to get serious about writing. He'd come to San Francisco to support his book Zen in the Art of Writing. I wanted to tell him how much his stories meant to me, but I was nearly sick with nerves. I waited until everyone had left the bookstore, then finally held my book out for him to sign. I told him I was really struggling to write my first novel. He told me, "Don't think so much. Just write." It took me a while to figure out how to do that, but he was right.

- What book changed your life?

LR: Tales of Mystery and Imagination. I read it as a kid, one summer while my family was on vacation. All these years later, I remember touring the mint in Denver, seeing how money is made, then hurrying back to my family's truck camper so I could read more Edgar Allan Poe. I have so many favorites in that book, but probably my most favorite is "The Masque of the Red Death." Just a little chilling reading for a 10-year-old on summer vacation.

- What were some of your favorite books growing up?

LR: The first book I really fell in love with was Where the Wild Things Are. For a while, I even had it memorized. The whole idea that you could become king of the monsters really appealed to me.

Later, I read Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man. It was one of the books my mother had on her shelf. The framing concept is the author meets a tattooed man at a homeless encampment. The "Illustrated Man" can't keep a job because his tattoos move and tell stories...and the book is the collection of the stories they tell. It has my absolute favorite Bradbury story in it: "The Exiles," which is about Poe, Shakespeare, Dickens, and Bierce living on Mars after science has destroyed imaginations on Earth.

In college, one of my creative writing teachers suggested I read Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber. That book is thoroughly brilliant. She takes the old familiar fairy tales and vivisects them.

- What books are currently in your to be read pile?

LR: I've got a bunch of good stuff to look forward to. There's L.S. Johnson's The Painter's Widow, which has been described as Jane Austen meets H. P. Lovecraft; Meg Elison's The Book of Flora, the end of a feminist post-apocalypse trilogy; and Martha J. Allard's Your Cruel Fingers Will Close My Eyes, a love story between an energy vampire and the Loch Ness monster.

- Which do you prefer ebooks, print, or audio books?

LR: Definitely print books, but I like audiobooks, too. I've been listening to Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, which has a full cast and is just amazing. I find it hard to concentrate on ebooks, for some reason.

- If you could live inside the world of a book or series, which world would it be and why?

LR: Wow, what a great question! I'd love to live inside the world of Lev Grossman's The Magicians. I think of storytelling as a discipline of magic. It would be great to teach storytelling to young people who can work actual spells.

Unsafe Words

Loren Rhoads

Genre: Horror, Science Fiction,

Dark Fantasy Short Stories

Publisher: Automatism Press

Date of Publication: September 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1735187600


Number of pages: 174

Word Count: 55K

Cover Artist: Lynne Hansen

Tagline: Once you’ve done the most unforgivable thing, what will you do next?

Book Description:

In the first full-length collection of her edgy, award-winning short stories, Loren Rhoads punctures the boundaries between horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction in a maelstrom of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.

Ghosts, succubi, naiads, vampires, the Wild Hunt, and the worst predator in the woods stalk these pages, alongside human monsters who follow their cravings past sanity or sense.

Amazon      BN

 Excerpt from "Here There Be Monsters" from Unsafe Words by Loren Rhoads

Something brushed her leg. Violet kept treading water, legs pedaling below her, but wondered: did the pool have leeches in it? Snapping turtles? Her thoughts darted into paranoia: were there sharks? Piranhas? Anything that might bite?

Not that it mattered. She would stay in this water and be gummed to death by goldfish rather than get out and take her chances with the mountain lion watching her from the side of the pool.

Whatever it was below her tangled in her toes. It felt for all the world like hair. Violet shuddered, losing her rhythm momentarily, but then forced her legs to scissor once more.

She peered down into the murky water. Something below her glowed an icy white color, like moonlight. Like the moon had fallen into the old swimming pool. The temperature of the water around her plummeted. A cramp knotted her left calf. Violet whimpered.

Her head dipped toward the surface of the water. Violet fought to calm herself, to hold herself up by the determined stroking of her arms. She tried to stretch the charley horse from her muscle.

Something very much like a hand touched her thigh.

She shrieked. The sound echoed from the hills surrounding the pool and repeated from the mountain peak on the other side of the valley.

The mountain lion narrowed her eyes and stared at Violet.

Then a girl’s voice said in her ear: “Don’t be afraid.”

Ice flooded her veins and Violet lost the ability to control her limbs. Her head slipped under the surface of the water and she took a breath…and something caught her in its arms and lifted her, coughing, back to the surface. And held her there, safely, until she could breathe again.

Violet’s heart fluttered in her chest, struggling to regain its rhythm. She could see arms around her ribs, holding her up in the water. They were a pale grayish white. Not a natural color. She wondered if it was possible to die of fear.

“Don’t be afraid of me,” the ghost said gently. “I won’t hurt you.”

“I’m afraid to look at you,” Violet whispered. She didn’t trust her own voice, didn’t want to hear the sound of her own terror.

“I’m not horrible,” the ghost promised.

“Did you drown here?”

“A long time ago.”

Violet swallowed hard. Her throat was sore from the water she’d inhaled. She coughed once more, but it didn’t really help. Tentatively, she started to dog paddle.

The ghost released her. Violet turned slowly, to find a girl her own age bobbing alongside her. Her long, long hair was blond, where Violet’s was dark. It was slicked to her skull and green with streaks of pondweed. Her eyes were pale blue, maybe, or green, where Violet’s were brown. The drowned girl wasn’t horrible, even if her skin had gone the color of something kept from sunlight for a long, long time.

“Are you alone here?” Violet asked. The quaver in her voice unnerved her even more, if that were possible. She swallowed again and tried to concentrate on her kicking.

“My boyfriend is here, too,” the ghost said. “He doesn’t like to talk to people.”

“Did you die together?”

“We thought it would be romantic,” the ghost said. “We didn’t realize we’d be trapped here. That’s why I don’t want you to die. You will be trapped here, too.”

“Why are you trapped?”

“A creature roams these woods. A monster. It is hungry for company. It collects us.”

“How many of you are there?” Violet asked, even though she didn’t want to know the answer.

“Lots,” the ghost said sadly. “Lots.”

“I don’t want to be trapped here,” Violet said, “but I don’t know how to get past the mountain lion.”

“There is no mountain lion,” the ghost said. “That’s the monster. It takes many forms.”


About the Author:

Loren Rhoads is the author of the In the Wake of the Templars space opera trilogy, co-author of a succubus/angel duology called As Above, So Below, and editor of Tales for the Camp Fire: An Anthology Benefiting Wildfire Relief. She's also the author of a nonfiction travel guide called 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die. Unsafe Words is the first full-length collection of her short stories.

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1 comment:

Loren Rhoads said...

Thanks so much for interviewing me!