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!

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