Today I get to share with you an interview with Kate Ledbetter, author of Anagnorisis, an awesome horror novella I’ve helped edit and produce. It’s been a long time coming, but the book is finally out on Amazon! I hope you all will check it out, and get to know Kate and her work a little below.
So, as a horror author I’m sure you get asked this a lot, but… Do you watch a lot of horror movies? What are some of your favorite horror books and movies?
I watch horror constantly. Aside from stand up comedy and some truly terrible reality tv (think Ghost Adventures and Finding Bigfoot less than Real Housewives) it’s almost all I watch anymore. That said, I’ve found that when you insist on seeing a glut of a certain genre, you’re bound to find more marginal and frankly bad movies than amazing ones. Especially when you’re also a part of that genre and are a bit more critical than most viewers.
Many popular horror movies, I just don’t find enjoyable. In particular, I’m really not fond of movies or books that rely on mental illness or someone else’s culture to provide the scary elements of the movie. If what’s supposed to be scary is that someone the audience thought was a reliable narrator was in fact suffering from a mental illness, to me that’s a bad movie and lazy writing. I’m also not into horror that depends too heavily on gore for the sake of gore rather than building suspense with a solid plot and compelling details.
If what’s supposed to be scary is that someone the audience thought was a reliable narrator was in fact suffering from a mental illness, to me that’s a bad movie and lazy writing.
The movie I was most impressed with recently was The Boy. It did an amazing job of taking the doll trope and really running with it in a way that I’ve never seen before. I left that movie completely in a daze. It was wonderful.
My old favorite, though, is always and forever Hard Candy. It’s the sort of horror I want to be writing and I never get tired of re-watching it.
Were you always into scary stuff, even as a kid?
Actually no. When I was a kid, I freaked out every time my mom tried to read me The Monster at the End of This Book. Even after I’d read it dozens of times, that book scared the crap out of me.
In elementary and middle school I read a lot of mystery. I got bored of Nancy Drew pretty fast and moved on to Agatha Christie books, which I loved, but no real horror to speak of.
When I was a kid, I freaked out every time my mom tried to read me The Monster at the End of This Book. Even after I’d read it dozens of times, that book scared the crap out of me.
I didn’t really start reading horror until after high school, when my parents finally deemed me old enough to read their Stephen King and Anne Rice books. Bag of Bones was the first horror book I really read and I loved it.
In college, I kept reading horror. At first I mostly read Stephen King, but then I moved on to Lovecraft and Poe. My favorites now are mostly Lovecraft contemporaries (authors who build on Lovecraft’s mythos) and true crime. Although King’s Bachman books will always be among my favorites.
True crime, and unsolved crimes in particular, is a huge source of inspiration for me and I love seeing the articles written about unsolved murders as they start with splashy headlines and turn into single paragraph blurbs as they remain unsolved. It’s had a huge impact on me to see how we react to real murderers remaining at large and how fear can impact both individuals and communities.
I’m also a firm believer that horror authors should have a firm grasp of criminology, true crime and anatomy to really do this well, so that’s a lot of what I read, in an attempt to fill that knowledge gap.
It’s had a huge impact on me to see how we react to real murderers remaining at large and how fear can impact both individuals and communities.
What is your favorite kind of scary monster? Classic or otherwise?
My absolute favorite right now are poltergeists. But I should clarify and say that by poltergeist I don’t mean very scary ghost. I mean a haunting that’s caused by a living person dealing with some kind of turmoil that for whatever reason they cannot give voice to. Which is, as it turns out, what most mediums say a poltergeist is. A living person giving vent to emotions that they feel they cannot express for whatever reason. Typically the person has no idea they’re doing it and is just as frightened of and traumatized by the hyper-aggressive haunting as anyone else in the home.
That idea is incredibly interesting to me and I feel sure I’ll end up working it into a story soon.
So, let’s talk about Anagnorisis. You wrote a book about a pool of blood that tries to kill people. Is there a cool story behind that idea or do you just think blood is neat-o?
The idea started out as spilled blood seeking revenge on its own, as only a part of person it came from. Initially, I thought it would be interesting if the person remained alive via blood transfusions and their spilled blood was out killing on its own, only having a grasp on the person’s motivations at the time they were attacked. Which is still an interesting idea, but ultimately not viable. (Because how on earth would we ever be able to perform blood transfusions without a massive possession problem if that was a thing that happened?)
My absolute favorite right now are poltergeists … a haunting caused by a living person dealing with some kind of turmoil that for whatever reason they cannot give voice to
Your Tennessee setting is very authentic and well-done. Did you have to do any research to make that happen?
I grew up in a rural town in Tennessee, and thought that it made an interesting setting in that it was remote enough to not have to involve a huge number of neighbors and other unnecessary characters and lovely enough to make for a vibrant backdrop.
And my town really did flood all the time. We hardly ever got snow days, but instead had flood days, because the creeks and tributaries made the back roads totally impassable several days every spring. In fact, the last time I was there, a huge pipe that was supposed to help guard against flooding actually collapsed, leaving a twelve-foot deep crack shooting through a major thoroughfare. So much for that flood gate.
Do you have any pets? 🙂 Were any of them the inspiration for Meanie and Raptor, the cat and dog in the book?
I do have a pet, an enormously fat cat called Peppercorn, but she wasn’t an inspiration for either of the pets in this book. I actually went through pictures for my local humane society when I was trying to figure out just how Meanie might look. Raptor came from pictures a friend of mine sent me of a dog she knows playing in the snow.
What are you working on now? Any upcoming projects?
Right now I’m working on a revenge piece called Agnes Become God, which is turning out to be a dark little piece that I’m pretty in love with. After that, I’d like to write a few more short pieces to try for publication before working on a novel length piece I’m just calling the “Sarah Chronicles” for right now. I’ll be honest, though. I’m really stoked to start writing Sarah. She’s wonderful and I can’t wait to get to know her better.