We are ecstatic and honoured to be able to showcase our talented authors committed to the Kickstarter "The Earth Bleeds at Night". in these small and fun interviews.
Introducing the talented Ally Wilkes! Ally, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a Stoker-nominated horror author and lifelong horror fan who lives in London, England.
My debut novel, All The White Spaces, drew on my love of Polar exploration and survival horror, and I’ve gone back for more in my forthcoming second novel, Where The Dead Wait.
My short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies, as well as Nightmare Magazine, and my queer neo-Lovecraftian novella, Jamie Hallow And The End Of The World, was published in 2023 by Cemetery Gates Media.
How and why did you pick up the pen and start writing? Have you always been drawn to the creative arts or is this something that started later in life?
I’ve made up scary stories since I was old enough to hold a pen – in fact, my parents bought me one of the very early electronic typewriters so they could always hear what I was doing! Above my desk, I also have a framed copy of my first ever ‘book’, an extremely nasty pamphlet about an undead werewolf cosmic horror (?) called The Thing That Came Out Of The Night. So I suppose the short answer is: yes, I’ve always been like this.
What are some of the influences for your horror stories?
I’ve always been drawn towards cosmic horror, so HP Lovecraft (acknowledging his problematic beliefs and attitudes) has been a big influence on me, along with the masters of the British Weird like Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen. I’m always fascinated by the idea of ‘deep time’ – things that are unimaginably more ancient than human civilisation – and the forces of nature as representing a watchful, perhaps unfriendly, intelligence. And growing up I was immersed in the world of adventure and survival stories. Some of my favourite works manage to combine the tropes of this rather Boy’s Own mindset with social commentary, in particular critiquing imperialism and toxic masculinity: think Albert Sanchez Pinol’s Cold Skin, or Michelle Paver’s Dark Matter.
How do you cope with negative feedback or criticism of your stories?
Honestly, this may be an unpopular approach, but once something is published, I don’t seek out or engage with any criticism or negative feedback. Before it’s published, I’ve normally shown it to close writing friends, as well as my agent and my (wonderful) editors, and if they tell me something isn’t working, I respect them enough to listen – and make changes. But once it’s out in the wide world, it’s there for the readers, and I don’t think it’s helpful as a writer to be reading your reviews or obsessing about your rankings. It’s easy to suffer from impostor syndrome in this career, and I’d rather be working on the next thing with unbridled hubris than being told exactly how or why I suck :)
What are some of the tips or advice that you would give to aspiring horror writers?
Read, read, and read some more. Don’t just stick to the classics of the genre – read as much as possible of what’s coming out now. I promise Stephen King and Frankenstein will always be there; if you want your work to feel fresh, it’s extremely helpful to engage with the current landscape of horror.
Read short stories. Support the zines and short story markets which are around now, because it’s a hell of a tough time for those small outlets, and if you want the genre to thrive – and for your writing to have a place in those markets – it’s good to give back.
It’s also never too early to start learning about story structure and how to put together a compelling plot. Start with Into The Woods by John Yorke, which is my absolute Bible.
If you could choose one horror movie villain to be your best friend, who would it be and what would you do together?
She ends up being framed as the villain, but I’d love to have a goth girl sleepover with Nancy from The Craft. We’d drink wine from the bottle, hex our enemies, and upcycle our clothing.
-- Official comment from Michelle -- YESSS!!
Tell us about your recent works and where can we find you?
My next novel, Where The Dead Wait, is out December 5 from Atria/Emily Bestler Books (US) and January 23 from Titan (UK).
I can generally be found slouching around the dying beast of Twitter/X @UnheimlichManvr, or on Instagram @av_wilkes.
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