In our first special ‘itinerant Vampire Month’ post, we welcome L. Marie Wood into the special vampire interrogation chair (the one with all the gothic skulls and weird spikes) to answer questions about herself, her work and in particular her story in Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire.
L. Marie Wood is an award-winning author and screenwriter. She is the recipient of the Golden Stake Award for her novel The Promise Keeper, as well as the Harold L. Brown Award for her screenplay Home Party. Her short story, “The Ever After” is part of the Bram Stoker Award Finalist anthology Sycorax’s Daughters. Wood was recognized in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 15 and as one of the 100+ Black Women in Horror Fiction.
What is the earliest memory you have of writing? What did you write about?
I was 5 years old and I wrote a horror story about a woman who was being chased. She encountered all kinds of things that were creepy to my young mind and then, at the moment when she would either have to fight or die trying, she woke up!
When did you decide to become a professional writer? Why did you take this step?
In the middle of that very first story – yes, at age 5 – I decide that writing was what I wanted to do forever. Writing is something that is as much a part of me as my eye color or my height. I truly feel that I was born to do this and to ignore that would be to live life unrealized.
What would you consider to be your greatest strength as a writer? What about your greatest weakness? How do you overcome this weakness?
My greatest strength is that I can find ideas anywhere and everywhere. Considering that my genre is psychological horror, I often am intrigued by what could be going on in someone’s head. That allows for an endless supply of material – ideas can be generated by taking a walk or waiting at a stop light in the car.
My greatest weakness is the concept of boundaries – though, not the way you might think. I used to not read when I was writing. When I was working on my first novel, I thought that was the best way to keep other people’s ideas out of my head and keep my writing pure. I found that limited the amount of reading I did in a year and if you are like me, the consumption of fiction is as important to you as air or water – well, almost. 😊 Because I write a lot, I found that I read less and less and that just bothered me. So, I tried writing a few short stories while reading a novel that had been on my list for some time… and it worked! I found that I didn’t actually need to keep the two separate at all – that I can actually walk and chew gum at the same time. I take this approach with all boundaries, whether within the writing or from my daily life. The way I overcame the weakness was simply to try it and see what happened.
Tell us about the place where you live. Have you ever derived any inspiration from your home or from anywhere you have visited?
My town is like any other suburban town – same stores, same restaurants… some streets even look like ones in neighbouring states. This is the perfect place to get inspiration. I write about the lived experience – the mundane is my playground.
Which book, if any, would you consider to be your greatest influence and inspiration?
Not a book, but an author. Ira Levin’s comfortable flow really spoke to me when I was trying to find my own voice. He connects with readers in a way that makes you feel like you are chatting with him over a drink on a casual Sunday afternoon. That ability to engage readers, to unsuspectingly get into their space and under their skin, has influenced my style considerably.
What drove you to write about Vampires?
They are the most human of the horror antagonists and their motivations just make sense to me. The embodiment of excess regardless of what emotion is being displayed, vampires are excellent antagonists to use in psychological horror.
What do you think is the attraction for Vampire fiction? Why is it such a popular topic?
Vampires are sexy! Vampires are misunderstood. Vampires do what we wish we could and dare someone to levy a consequence. Vampires are who want to be times 1000.
In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?
The smart ones. The Lestats of the genre, impetuous as he is. The Armands. The ones who know there is more to the whole thing than just the taking of blood. If I had to pick one, I’ll say Lestat.
What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?
Same… I mean, just look at Lestat!
How well do you think one of your characters would fare against the winner(s) of the above?
Nah, there’s no competition in dress and style. My characters are nowhere near as flashy as Lestat, however, they would give him a run for his money once he turned a little catty!
Tell us the basic premise behind your story in this anthology.
The short story in SLAY is a discovery tale that happens in a contemporary setting. It is fast-paced and really dives into the internal turmoil that can exist when one’s humanity is staring back at them in the mirror.
You can find out more about L, Marie Wood on the following links: