|Illustration by Luke Spooner, © LVP Publications|
Welcome to The Pulp Horror Author Interview Series. Today's interview is with Mehitobel Wilson who explores the fear of utopian societies in her short story "True Confessions of the Happiest Pistachio… In The Most Perfect System… In The Whole Wide World" in The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias.
LVP PUBLICATIONS: What draws you to horror, both as a writer and as a reader? Who is your favorite horror creator? Who are your inspirations or influences?
MEHITOBEL WILSON: I’m trying to remember, or imagine, how I would have answered this when I first got hooked on horror. When I was a kid and young adult, horror seemed transgressive. I was thrilled by gore and wanted to run with the monsters.
Nowadays, I’m more compelled by the empathy required as a reader/viewer, the emotional connections we have with the characters.
I can’t even begin to name influences, though. Everyone!
Current favorite creators? If there’s a new book from Mo Hayder, Paul Tremblay, Sarah Pinborough, or Christopher Golden, I’ll preorder it. And I pounce on movies by Ben Wheatley or Lucky McKee. Right now I’m really obsessed with Liam Gavin’s A DARK SONG.
LVP: What were your biggest fears as a child? Do you have any current phobias or fears now as an adult?
WILSON: As a kid, I covered my bedroom ceiling with glow-in-the-dark stars so I could watch them in the dark. I was sure something would blot out the stars someday, something crawling on the ceiling, or looming in the night.
As an adult I simply fear running out of time.
LVP: Horror has a million sub-genres, from psychological to splatterpunk. Which sub-genres have you written in? What's your favorite flavor of horror?
WILSON: I’ve written body horror, cosmic horror, monster stories, ghost stories, comedy—but whenever I have to describe my work overall, I sum it up as psychological horror.
LVP: Is there any sub-genre or area of horror that you won’t go anywhere near? Any one area that is completely off-limits?
WILSON: I tend to avoid extreme horror these days, though I used to be really into it. I’m not opposed to it, just burned out on it, I think. But fuck knows what that even means—my bell curve is pretty skewed. Like, THE WOMAN is one of my comfort movies, and a lot of people would say that’s extreme. But I won’t ever watch A SERBIAN FILM. Also, I’m not cool with suicide stories.
LVP: In your opinion, what is the scariest or most terrifying thing you’ve ever written?
WILSON: This is a brutal question! I guess right now I’d say my novella, LAST NIGHT AT THE BLUE ALICE, is the scariest, or should be, because there’s just so much human disconnection in it.
LVP: Have you ever had an idea for a story so scary or disturbing that you couldn't bring yourself to write it down? Tell us about it.
WILSON: Well, if I told you about it, wrote it down here, I may as well write the story! But no, not really.
There was one real-life murder/kidnapping case that I followed intensely while it was unfolding, and it really fucked me up. I wanted to work through that in fiction, but it took years and years before I finally found the means to confront it. I don’t really want to mention the murderer—I don’t want to contribute to his lore—but I wrote “The Remains” for DEEP CUTS to pull the thorn from my paw.
LVP: Are there any ways that your interest in horror bleeds over (so to speak) into other areas of your life? Do you throw legendary Halloween parties, do you dress like Alice Cooper when you go grocery shopping, do you have a pet albino snake named Nosferatu?
WILSON: I’ve been a creepy ol’ goth all my life. I’ve started to add a pop of color to my black wardrobe—I’m partial to mouse grey. My office walls are completely encrusted in horror artwork, my décor sense is Weird Old Attic, and I collect vulture stuff. For a while there was a trend in gift stores for “over the hill” birthday party kitsch; that was a great time for stuffed vultures!
LVP: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to try dabbling in horror writing for the first time?
WILSON: Don’t bother trying to play clever tricks on readers. Emotional honesty is key to horror, for me. And read very, very broadly. There’s horror in every genre, every scenario.
LVP: What would you like your legacy to be? Or alternatively, what should your survivors engrave on your tombstone?
WILSON: Epitaph? I don’t know—I’m bad at short pithy things (hence being bad at Twitter.) Legacy? I just hope that people who read my work got to step outside of themselves while reading it, and afterward, when they return to themselves, they’re satisfied.
LVP: Anything else you'd like to say or add? Any final thoughts?
WILSON: These were very difficult questions to answer. Thank you for asking them!
~ Mehitobel Wilson has been a Bram Stoker Award nominee, and many of her stories have been granted Honorable Mentions in the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. Recent short stories have appeared in Apex #75, Deep Cuts, Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead, Psychos, and Sins of the Sirens. Her dark fantasy novella, Last Night at the Blue Alice, is available from Bedlam Press. Selected stories have been collected in Dangerous Red. Visit her at mehitobel.com.
Pre-order The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias (paperback or hardcover) from your local indie bookstore through IndieBound, from Barnes & Noble or Amazon now... or come see us at Crypticon in Seattle, WA and StokerCon in Grand Rapids, MI to read this story along with all the other madness contained in The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias (including limited edition autographed phobia card sets, available at conventions only)!