Thursday, February 18, 2016

Livia Lewellyn Interview

The Horror Librarian: I’m super excited about your upcoming collection, Furnace.  What can readers expect and where can we get a copy?

Livia Lewellyn: Furnace is comprised of fourteen stories – thirteen which have been published elsewhere and one which is new to print but has been seen by readers subscribing to my Patreon account. Most of the stories in the collection are horror and dark fantasy with undertones of erotica – quite a few of them are extremely explicit in nature, however, and I chose one story that isn’t horror at all but straight-up erotica. It’s similar in tone and style to “At the Edge of Ellensburg” (which was in my first collection, Engines of Desire), though, so I thought it was a good fit with the rest of the stories. I suspect people who are already familiar with my fiction will like the collection – first-timers may think I’m out of my fucking mind. They might be right. As of now, you can order the trade paperback at, and the Kindle ebook at

The Horror Librarian: I LOVE LOVE LOVE your story, “It Feels Better Biting Down,” available on podcast from Nightmare magazine. As a podcast story, it’s a feast for the senses with layers of sensual textures. How do you accomplish such texture? Are you a pantser or a plotter? And how many drafts do you typically work through to get it just so?

Livia Lewellyn: That story was something of an anomaly for me. I wrote it in just under two hours, I had absolutely no idea what I was writing or what the ending would be, and I didn’t do any editing at all – the first draft was the only draft. Usually I tend to do a fair bit of plotting for stories – I need to have the title, I need to have the beginning, and I need to be somewhat sure of where and how I want it to end. Once I have those things, I just write my way through it without much pre-planning. However, it typically takes me a couple of weeks to write the story  – I go over paragraphs and sentences again and again, adding and taking away adjectives and adverbs and moving words back and forth, editing as I go until it’s as perfect as I can make it (I think that’s probably how I get that texture you speak of). “It Feels Better Biting Down” wasn’t anything like how I usually write, but I wish I knew how to duplicate it. My life would be so much easier if I could pound out stories as effortlessly as that!

The Horror Librarian: Don’t we all? Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions? How do you celebrate a new project?

Livia Lewellyn: I have more of a writing routine than a ritual – I like to write with my headphones on, listening to ambient music. I have a day job, so most of my writing is in the evening, even during the weekends. And, I don’t celebrate when I start a new project. I don’t even celebrate when I finish one, or when I sell something – celebrations usually cost money, and I’ve pretty much hit rock-bottom, financially speaking. For me, writing isn’t something I do just because I’m being creative or I’m an “artist” who is driven to express myself a certain way. Writing is my second job, to supplement a primary income that doesn’t cover all my bills and doesn’t allow me to save money or afford better living conditions (which is not unusual for most people living in a megalopolis). I’ll celebrate when I’m no longer living in substandard housing, no longer wearing twenty-year-old clothing that’s riddled with patched holes, and am able to turn more than one light on at a time because I can finally afford the utility bill.

The Horror Librarian: Sadly, I’m sure that’s something a lot of writers can relate to. As you know, February is Women in Horror Month. What advice would you give to aspiring female horror authors?

Livia Lewellyn: I’m afraid I don’t have much advice in general to give to writers. I don’t think my giving advice is particularly useful – the internet is clogged with writers of all levels of success giving advice, and I don’t believe I have anything original to add beyond what’s already been said a million times by a million people. And I really can’t think of anything I’d say to women writers that I wouldn’t say to men. If I could say anything that remotely resembles advice, it’d be that writers should follow their own instincts, decide what “rules” and advice works best for them, and ignore everything else that doesn’t work. What I love about writing is that you can disregard pretty much every kind of advice out there. Writing is just you and the page and whatever you bring to it – it doesn’t need to be anything else.

The Horror Librarian: Well said. What is your next project?

Livia Lewellyn: I’m working on multiple projects – several short stories for various anthologies; a new collection of extremely dark, fantastical erotica, titled Tales of the Black Century; and I’ve just started work on an entirely new project that I’m not at liberty to talk about yet – when the contract is signed for that, I’ll be able to announce it.

The Horror Librarian: List five things that are on your writing desk right now.

Livia Lewellyn: Right now, there’s a small tortoise shell glass and brass octopus lamp; a stack of CD’s (yes, those still exist!) that includes a very old version of the video game Riven, some Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus, David Bowie’s The Next Day, Richard Armitage narrating a Georgette Heyer novel, and a double disk set of dark primeval Greek folk songs titled Why The Mountains Are Black; a red paper coffee cup filled with colored pens and pencils that I use for doodling and note-taking in my journals; an absolutely massive stack of manuscripts and works-in-progress (I print out everything at least once before the final edit); and an ice bucket decorated with an antique map of the world that’s filled with Apple and PC cords and external drives. There’s probably a big hairy spider or centipede somewhere on my desk, too, but until I get actual confirmation, I’m just going to pretend that’s not a possibility. Ignorance truly is bliss.

The Horror Librarian: Thanks so much, Livia!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Livia Lewellyn Bio

This week's special guest is...Livia Lewellyn!

This month, not only are we raving about the current Gamut Kickstarter (learn more here), but we are also celebrating Women in Horror Month (learn more here). I'm beyond thrilled to have Livia Lewellyn on The Horror Librarian this week!

In her own words...

Long ago, in another millennia, I was born at the icy edges of Anchorage, Alaska and spent my childhood in the quiet woods of the Pacific Northwest. And now, in this early sliver of the new thousand year era, I am a tiny speck in a frenetic East Coast megalopolis that is one of the centers of the human world. I’m not quite sure how that happened….By day I’m a secretary. I file papers, create spreadsheets, update calendars, weep in the restroom stalls — the usual secretarial things.

At night, I write about lonely girls who sing to colossal sentient engines born of Tesla’s secret journals, long-horned demons lost in endless tracts of suburbia, giant biomechanical insects and their sassy female charges, mothers who are good monsters, monsters who are good mothers, the mysterious labyrinth of human-&-creature couplings, the joys of solitude and the horror of the broken heart.

This website is my home online, where I talk about apartment ants (too many), black coffee in bed (too little), and beer & cheese & dogs (never enough!). At this moment, I’m probably covered in bees.

Visit Livia online at: 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Carmen Maria Machado Interview

And here is this week's interview with the fabulously talented, Carmen Maria Machado. Carmen is a contributor to the currently Kickstarting Gamut magazine (learn more here).

The Horror Librarian: You have a forthcoming collection of short fiction, Her Body and Other Parties, in 2017, and are a contributor to the current Kickstarter project, Gamut Magazine. Can you talk a little about your creative process?

Carmen Machado: I keep extensive personal lists of ideas, titles, images, formal constraints, obsessions, fears, and so on, and I add to and access them frequently. When I’m poking around for a new project, I often find elements on these lists that compliment, contrast, or overlap with each other, and set about trying to construct a narrative that makes them work together. (This is how “The Husband Stitch” was born.) 

The Horror Librarian: Aside from your fiction, you write criticism and literary essays. How is your approach to this work different? How is it similar?

Carmen Machado: I’d argue that fiction & personal essays are closer to each other than criticism & personal essays. The criticism is sort of its own thing—thinking about literature in a critical way, talking about books and how they’re working or not working and where they fit into the literary landscape and what the author is doing or trying to do. 

Personal essays, on the other hand, are like short stories with one, huge constraint: they have to be about real events. But there’s still the need for scenes and characters and thinking about structure and pacing. For me, they’re harder only in the sense that they require an extra step of trying to work through what has actually happened to me; having to process and think about the meaning of my own life; trying to organize events with no organizing intelligence behind them. And that can be a slow and emotional and laborious process. 

The Horror Librarian: I’m a big fan of podcasts and your short story “Descent” was a featured podcast for Nightmare Magazine. As such, your stories are very lyrical. Can you talk a little about the journey to finding/developing your voice?

Carmen Machado: I think I first began to really feel my way into my voice when I started reading my stories out loud. I catch stutters or roughness in my prose when my literal voice (the one coming out of my mouth) has difficulty with the sentence. I never submit a piece of writing without having read it out loud a dozen times, or more. 

The Horror Librarian: What is your favorite part of the writing life? Least favorite?

Carmen Machado: I take great pleasure in writing. I’m not one of those people who grits their teeth and bears it; I find it to be one of the most rewarding, invigorating parts of my existence. Which is not to say that I don’t get stuck or frustrated or find myself running in circles. (Those are definitely my least favorite parts of being a writer.) But knowing that I’m in the process of creating something interesting is the best feeling in the world. 

The Horror Librarian: What are you working on right now?

Carmen Machado: I’m working on a few short stories, a couple of essays, a book-length nonfiction work, and a novel-in-progress. I’m always busy! 

The Horror Librarian: List 5 things that are on your writing desk right now.

Carmen Machado: A vintage robot wind-up toy (a gift from a former teacher), a St. Octavia Butler candle, a fishbowl full of words, an empty Virginia Woolf coffee mug, and a fake skeleton foot—the right foot, not the left. 

The Horror Librarian: Thanks, Carmen!  Readers, be sure to keep coming back each week this month for our special feature Gamut authors.