Q & A With Emma Jane Shaw Gibbon

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Emma Jane Shaw Gibbon, one of my cohorts in the Tuesday Mayhem Society, has just released her first horror collection, Dark Blood Comes From The Feet, from Journalstone.

Here’s a Q & A with Emma. I cannot recommend this collection enough!

Dark Blood Comes From The Feet

How Did You Choose The Title?

It’s a quote from the story “Cellar Door” which is in Dark Blood Comes from the Feet. The character in the story is relaying a memory which is an actual real-life memory of something that happened to me. Many years ago, I went for a reiki session. Now the thing with these things that I am always in two minds about it. On the one hand, I’m a skeptic, but on the other hand I really do want to believe, as Mulder would say. So, I went to the session and the reiki practitioner said at the end of the session she visualized a flood of dark blood coming from my feet, that it poured down and covered the floor. I actually watched her step back to avoid it. She said that it symbolized my old trauma, trauma that I hadn’t dealt with, was still holding onto. I can see a lot of my old hurts in these stories, wounds that I poke at over and over again. I dress them up in monsters and hauntings and the supernatural, but I know where they are. When I’m writing, I don’t realize. It’s only after the fact I can see it.

Who are your favorite authors?

I have a lot and I know I’ll forget some but they include Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, Donna Tartt, George Saunders, Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, Chekhov, Mary Rickert, Angela Carter, Mervyn Peake, Stephen Graham Jones, Sarah Monette.

What are you reading now?

Right now, I am having a hard time reading. My focus and concentration is nonexistent. It’s taking me a long time to finish stuff, but it’s in no way a reflection on the books themselves. I’m reading The Secret Miracle: The Novelist’s Handbook by Daniel Alarcón, which was recommended by Mary Rickert and Sefira and Other Betrayals by John Langan. I’ve read a lot of John’s stories in anthologies and really liked them, and this does not disappoint. I’ve got Books of Blood up next on my Kindle as I’m ashamed to say I have never read them.

What have you learned over the course of putting this collection together?

That I heavily favor first person and I have a tendency of repeating myself, especially when it comes to certain motifs or descriptive words. One of the positive things is that I have enough space between me and these stories now that I like them all. I don’t regret putting any of them in, which is a long road for me, this feeling of acceptance for my little messed-up children.

What do you have coming up next?

I have a short story coming up in Would but Time Await: An Anthology of New England Folk Horror from Haverhill Press and an upcoming poem in Kaleidotrope.

What’s a pet peeve of yours in books (or movies)?

In books, I’m extremely tired of animal abuse, especially dog murder, as shorthand for “this character is evil.” I mean, it’s bluntly effective, but it’s so overdone and it is something that will make me put down a book.

In movies, high heels! I am so, so sick of still seeing women who are otherwise kicking ass tottering around in these things. They are specifically designed for the male gaze. For women, they are uncomfortable, unhealthy and hobbling. They are not what you wear when you are fighting Nazis or running from dinosaurs, to give two examples.

What’s something you love seeing in books or movies?

I like when things take a strange and unexpected turn that totally makes sense. I like unreliable narrators and morally gray characters. I like when the underdogs win. I love a good meta reference. I love stories that I have to work at, that require effort from me as a reader or viewer. I love when all of the pieces—visuals or description, language, tone, all work together to echo one another. I love well-placed foreshadowing that feels really satisfying to look back on. My favorite books and films are the ones where I wonder about the lives and fate of the characters, as if they are people I know, after the story has ended. I often can overlook things that are not perfect in the writing as long as I’m engaged with the ideas or care about what happens to the characters (which is not the same as liking them.)

What do you want to tell new writers?

Write who you are. Write the stories that no one but you can write. You will be much happier. Don’t try to write to market, it will have moved before you have time to publish. Don’t try to write for what you think is the more acceptable or makes the most money or will get you the most accolades. It will feel like you’re wearing someone else’s shoes. I spent way too much time trying to be the writer I thought I wanted to be, instead of the writer I am. Once I let it drop, everything fell into place.

You’re a librarian, which gives you a rather unique insight into the writing world. What do you think writers should know?

You know, I need to gather my thoughts on this because I could probably put together a fairly useful blog post or something. Even though we’re part of the book eco-system, there are definitely areas where librarians and writers look at things differently. I sometimes even see advice given to writers about libraries that is wrong, in my opinion. Of course, I can only speak for myself and the library I work at, but I think it might be useful.

I think the main thing is that the best way to get a book into a library is have someone request it. Cheat a little, get your friends to request it, we won’t know! Library acquisitions are driven by a lot of things—bestsellers, good reviews, word of mouth, but the absolute top of these are patron requests. Depending on the size of the library’s budget, it can mean between one request and ten requests, I would estimate. In our library, which doesn’t have a huge budget, if I see more than two requests, I will probably buy it. Also, if we have more than five holds on a book, I will buy a second copy, and one more for every increment of 5.

Another route you can take is to donate your book. Obviously, you wouldn’t get paid, which is the downside. Also, different libraries have different policies on it. In our library, if an author is “local” (I usually count that as our state) or if I’m familiar with the author or book, I will put it in but with the understanding that it shares the fate of all the other books in the collection. In our library that means that if it doesn’t check out in five years, then it is removed. I know that sounds horrifying to writers, but librarians have to look at the collection as a whole, and as a popular collection with limited space, we have to keep things moving.

A plea from me personally is to please don’t turn up and try to hand sell us your books. It’s awkward, you’re interrupting our regular work, and that’s not how we buy books. We generally buy them from distributors and pay them by invoice. We can’t just hand over cash or write a check. Plus, we’re introverts, please don’t do it to us.

Finally, by all means, contact us if you’d like to do an author talk or signing (email is always best) but don’t take it personally if we say no. Usually it’s because we’re trying to save you from an awful time. We generally know what our community will turn up for. In my town I have the hardest time getting folks to turn up for author events—even big names, but a talk on getting rid of Brown-Tail Moths? Phew, we’re packing them in.

What’s your favorite quote?

I have a fridge magnet that has a Chekhov quote on it. It says:

“Any idiot can face a crisis. It’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.”

Which has always been my go-to quote for years but now that I’m in month six of overlapping and back-to-back crises of both in my personal life and the larger world, I’d be glad to get back to that day-to-day living for a while.

My favorite first line is “It was the day my grandmother exploded” by Iain Banks in The Crow Road.

I think ultimately though, my favorite quote, the quote I try to live my life by, is by those esteemed philosophers, Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan — “Be excellent to each other.”
How are you staying sane during all of this?

Hah! I’m really, really not. I’m doing a lot of doom scrolling and the cortisol flooding my brain is doing a real number on me. I had been calling it quarantine brain, but now it’s kind of *gestures around* everything brain.

I’ve been coping by getting through one day at a time. Trying to not be hard on myself if I’m not as productive as I usually am or performing to my previous standards. I’m not good for protesting for health reasons, I would probably be a burden so I’m trying to help in other ways—sharing information, amplifying voices, donating when I can.

What are you working on now?

I’m not! That’s not strictly true. I’m letting my brain burble away in the background. If I leave it long enough, it will usually clue me in to what I should be doing next. There are a few contenders. In the days before Covid, I had started a novel so I may go back to that. I have been noodling around with a poetry collection, but I don’t think I’ve quite got enough material yet, and then I have some short stories and a novella that need a lot of editing and revamping. So, it could be any of these or something else entirely. I’ll see what bubbles up to the top.

29354833_1883159865027762_476951707869434288_oEmma J. Gibbon is originally from Yorkshire in the U.K. and now lives in Midcoast Maine. She is a Rhysling-nominated speculative poet, horror writer and librarian. Her stories have appeared in the Toasted Cake podcast, The Muse & The Flame and the New England Horror Writers anthologies, Wicked Haunted and Wicked Weird. She also has a story upcoming in Would but Time Await: An Anthology of New England Folk Horror. Her debut fiction collection, Dark Blood Comes from the Feet, is out in May from Trepidatio Publishing. Her poetry has been published in Strange Horizons, LiminalityPedestal Magazine and Eye to the Telescope and is upcoming in Kaleidotrope. Emma lives with her husband, Steve, and three exceptional animals: Odin, Mothra and M. Bison (also known as Grim). She is a member of the New England Horror Writers, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, the Angela Carter Society and the Tuesday Mayhem Society.

You can find Dark Blood Comes From The Feet on Amazon here. Emma is on Twitter  Instagram and has a blog here.

Update

I’ve got a lot of extra traffic coming through, and suspect that it’s coming from the story I have up at Pseudopod, Of Marrow And Abomination.

If you liked that story, you may also like some of my other stuff. Salt Cave, which is in Wicked Weird, is sort of in a similar vein.

I am not the best at keeping the website updated, especially the bibliography page.  The most updated list of my stuff is probably my Amazon page.

Also, during the coronaclypse, I’m offering free pdfs of my poetry collections, Whispers From The Apocalypse (2013, Chupa Cabra press, currently out of print) and As The Seas Turn Red, (2018, self pubbed). Seas is currently up for an Elgin award, and could really use some ratings love. Leave a comment with an email addy and I’ll send them over.

Please stay safe out there, y’all.

Of Marrow And Abomination

Stoked to announce that my story ‘Of Marrow And Abomination’ has gone live on Pseudopod. This was one of my dream markets, so it’s definitely brightening my day up.

You can read the story online or listen to it narrated in podcast form. It’s free. If you’re curious about my work but haven’t gotten to reading me, this is a good chance to check it out.

This was written and sold last year, so I’ve been waiting for a while for this.

Click here to read or listen.

 

WIHM Special – Morgan Sylvia

Don Anelli interviewed me for his blog, Don’s World of Horror and Exploitation, for Women in horror month.

Click here to read!

Laws of Blood And Shadow

For anyone who is coming here after the Write Like A Girl event, here is the poem version of the snippet.

They came from the river

Where black waters flow cold and deep

Their primordial dreams bubbled for eons in fetid muck and slime

Around the shards of their victims’ bones

Looking back now, my memories break into shards of greasy acceptance

I only did what I was told

Witch’s apprentice

Witch’s fool

We walk now across the smoldering words of our forebears

Watch their secrets rise to empty skies

In curling tendrils of smoke

Their unseeing eyes pop beneath our combat boots

We are alone here now

We are all that is left

Blood on broken china

Shards shining in the morning sun

Empty skulls piled before our temples

The thoughts they once contained

Spilled into the dust

Viscera gleaming in a poisoned dawn

I look to the river as the summer clouds fill with ghosts

Blood and shadow, something whispers

Screams and smoke

This is our reckoning, this churning, this loss

This is our redemption

Oblivion and bone dust

Look at what our brightest dreams have summoned

Darkened windows

Empty roads

Witches’ reckoning

Witches’ truth

We stare at dead stars with shining eyes as human voices fall silent

And wait for a new beginning

Updates

I’ve been a bit lax on updates, so here are a few at once.

My short story Behind These Walls: The Confessions of Madeleine Bavent will be in Pulling Strings: A Tribute To King Diamond, from Death’s Head Press.

My short Power In The Hands of Fools will be in Imaginos: Bedtime Stories For The Children of The Damned, (Blue Oyster Cult stories)

A Spell of Blood And Bone will be in Would But Time Await, A New England Folk Horror Anthology.

And a few other things coming I haven’t officially signed off on yet.
I also had a great time on the Necrocasticon podcast the other day.

Last but definitely not least … I’m reading at the Salem Witch House tomorrow as part of their #women in horror series, Write Like A Girl!

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Just Saying It Could Even Make It Happen – A short introduction to Folk Horror in the work of Kate Bush

via Just Saying It Could Even Make It Happen – A short introduction to Folk Horror in the work of Kate Bush

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Wicked Weird ebook is available for preorder! I’m stoked to be in this antho from the NEHW, along with some super talented writers/good friends.

 

 

Elgin Awards

As The Seas Turn Red has been nominated for an Elgin Award!

 

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Q & A With Author David Wilson

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David Wilson, founder of Crossroads Press, is not only a nice guy and a great publisher to work with, he’s also a writer himself. Here’s a Q&A on his processes and recent work:

What influenced the book?

Heart of a Dragon was influenced by a number of things. It was actually the second book I wrote about Donovan DeChance, the first being Vintage Soul. This fell farther in the past and so became a prequel and the new #1 in the series. The basic concept of the story grew from my short story of the same title that was published years back in Deathrealm Magazine. I always loved the story but felt there was a lot more too it.  I also got the opportunity with this one to write about motorcycle clubs… a thing I’m familiar with having ridden with Tiburon MC when I was stationed with the US Navy in Rota, Spain, and ever since (though I don’t have a bike these days).  The chance to express the things I learned during that time and tie them in with the art of the young Latino, Salvatore Domingo Sanchez, was the perfect blend.  The city, San Valencez, CA, is a setting I created based on San Diego, where I lived for many years. Having an alternate city gives me more freedom and prevents those readers who like to say – “yeah, but that’s on Eight St… not 28th…” when they read a story set in a real place.

Are you a pantser or outliner?

The pantser, outliner thing… I’m both. I’ve written books without any real idea how they would end, and the last part of doing so bothered me to the point of distraction, until it suddenly happened. My novels Deep Blue and Ancient Eyes are like that.  Over time, I developed a hybrid method where I outline the basic chapter structure beginning to end, and about halfway through, though I still know how it ends, I usually veer off wildly.  I think calling yourself one, or the other, is a disservice to your creativity. No two projects are the same, and whatever method works for you, that is the one you should use… The outline, though, can prevent you from writing yourself into holes and forgetting to close loops, so… more often than not I have at least a working version.

Did you learn anything new while writing this?

I learn something every time I write something new… for Heart of a Dragon I had to do some research on paints, and also to brush up on Voodoo symbols and ceremonies, though I’ve always been fascinated by them. They play an integral part in the “bad guy” bike club in this book, “Los Escorpiones,” who are under the thrall of a Voodoo priestess…
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What is the series about?

The series, at it’s base, is about Donovan DeChance. He is a wizard, a collector of books, and has been alive since the mid 1800s.  His first encounter with magic, (which you can read in the origin story – “My Soul to Keep & Others” – book 3 – gifted him with longevity – and Cleo. From that moment forth, he set out on a quest to collect, and to protect record any and all magic, spells, enchantments, or objects he came into contact with.  He is a self-proclaimed keeper of “the balance” and steps in when someone goes too far, uses something too powerful, or hurts others.  Along the way, he fell in love with Amethyst, a Geomancer and master of crystals who has some serious backstory and adventures of her own, and got a reputation as a private investigator for paranormal folks – other magicians, the undead, etc… so he has his hands in a lot of different things, including being a friend and companion of Edgar Allan Poe more than once.

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What are your favorite fantasy books or series?

I don’t read as much fantasy as I used to, but my favorites currently would be Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Jim Butcher, and C. T. Phipps. (His Supervillainy series is one of my favorite things ever, particularly when I need something to make me smile).

Purchase at:

DECHANCE CHRONICLES OMNIBUS

Barnes and Noble: https://bit.ly/2Vqjxyd

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2UYjJFw

A MIDNIGHT DREARY

Barnes and Noble: https://bit.ly/2Vtu8su

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Zz6TfM

Giveaway:

(1) Ten dollar Starbucks Card and a David N. Wilson Book Collection, and (5) Books from the author, winners’ choice

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About the books:

Donovan DeChance is a collector of ancient manuscripts and books, a practicing mage, and a private investigator. This Omnibus Collection includes books I, II, III, and IV of the series. Included are Heart of a Dragon, Vintage Soul, My Soul to Keep (The Origin story of Donovan DeChance) and Kali’s Tale – book IV of the series. Also included are the bonus novellas The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & The Currently Accepted Habits of Nature, and The Preacher’s Marsh, both of which provide background on settings and characters that appear in Kali’s Tale. If you enjoy this book, you should read Nevermore, A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe, which follows on Kali’s Tale, has a cameo from Donovan DeChance, and leads into Book V – A Midnight Dreary,

Heart of a Dragon, When a local houngan begins meddling with powers she may not be able to control, a turf war breaks out between the Dragons motorcycle club and the Los Escorpiones street gang—a war that threatens to open portals between worlds and destroy the city in the process. With his lover, Amethyst, his familiar, Cleo – an Egyptian Mau the size of a small bobcat –the dubious aid of a Mexican sorcerer named Martinez and the budding gifts of a young artist named Salvatore, DeChance begins a race against time, magic, and almost certain death.

Vintage Soul, When, despite the finest in natural and supernatural security, a sexy and well-loved, three hundred year old lady vampire is kidnapped right out from under her lover’s nose, Donovan is called in to investigate. There will be no ransom for the kidnap victim, and if Donovan doesn’t prevent an ancient, forbidden ritual from reaching its culmination, far more than a single vampire’s undead existence will be at stake.

My Soul to Keep, Donovan DeChance is a very private man, and he is in love. When he invites his partner and lover, Amethyst, for a quiet dinner, she has no idea of his true intention. Donovan has planned a sharing – a vision that will give her the keys to his early life – the origins of his power – and a lot more than she bargained for. Join young Donovan as he fights to keep his soul, save a town, and learn the roots of his teacher and guardian – and meet his familiar, Cleo.

Kali’s Tale, When Donovan is asked to follow in secret as a hot-headed group of young vampires set out on a ‘blood quest’ to kill the ancient who created the young vampire Kali against her will, he learns that – as usual – there is a lot more to the story than meets the eye. Through the juke joints of Beale Street in Memphis, to the depths of The Great Dismal Swamp, Donovan and his lover and partner, Amethyst, find themselves drawn along on one of the strangest quests in their long, enigmatic lives as they delve into the world of the undead, the magic of The Blues, and the very heart of alchemy both to protect their young, vampiric charges – and to prevent an ancient evil from destroying the balance of power in the universe.

A Midnight Dreary, the long-awaited fifth volume in The DeChance Chronicles, picks up outside Old Mill, NC, when Donovan, reminded that he has promised his lover, Amethyst, and Geoffrey Bullfinch of the O.C.L.T. a story, draws them back in time to a vision of the final chapter of the novel Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe. At vision’s end, they realize that they have to act, to free Eleanor MacReady from the trap that holds her on the banks of Lake Drummond, in the Great Dismal Swamp,

These novels directly crosses over to the original series O.C.L.T. – where Donovan is a sometimes consultant. It features appearances by Geoffrey Bullfinch and Rebecca York, O.C.L.T. agents, as well as Old Mill, North Carolina’s own Cletus J. Diggs.