Hello. Thank you so much for sitting down to chat with us today.
So, tell us a little bit about you. How did you get into writing?
I’ve always been a big fan of horror, but I only got into writing more recently. I run the Twitter microfiction account @midnight_pals, which asks what if your favorite horror writers were to gather around the campfire and tell scary stories like in the classic Nickelodeon TV series ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ More recently, Tenebrous Press put out a call for a body horror anthology to benefit trans youth in Texas, and since this is an issue that I think is really important, I decided on a whim to try my hand at writing something. After it was accepted, I thought, hey, I’ve written ABOUT horror a lot, maybe I could actually try writing it a bit? So far it’s been a lot of fun.
Without giving away too much detail, tell us a little bit about the story that you have in the Folk Horror anthology, coming out in 2023 with Eerie River? Where did you get the inspiration from?
My story, “They’ll Find You and They’ll Kill You,” is about a fellow in a rural Appalachian community who trades a hog for a wife, but when he doesn’t treat his new wife right, he finds that her whole family comes after him. He’s got plans to escape, but everyone knows when this particular family comes after you, they’ll find you and they’ll kill you. I wanted to write a story that brought together everything that you expect to see in a folk horror story – weird inbred yokels, strange cult religion, folk magic – and rejigger it into something that hadn’t quite been done before. But the biggest inspiration for the story was the Pine Box Boys’ song “The Dark of the Holler,” a dark country murder ballad; I was listening to it and I could just see the opening chase scene unfolding in front of me and the rest followed from that.
Are you a plotter or a panster?
I believe in pure vibes based writing. I never plot anything out, I just follow the characters along and see where they go. Usually I just think of two or three images that need to go into a story and then my big job is just figuring out a story that would be a good excuse to combine them.
What books did you read as a child that inspired you to become an Author?
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was the big one for me! People always concentrate on the illustrations – which are incredible – but they forget how sparse and evocative the text is and how carefully it was crafted to literally be read aloud in the dark. The first real adult horror story that I read was ‘The Shining’ by Stephen King. I was reading it in a crowded middle school library in the middle of the day and it still absolutely terrified me; I could not get over how King could make a really mundane scene of a kid just looking at a fire hose so pants-wettingly terrifying. It was really my first inkling of how powerful horror could be.
What is your favourite horror movie?
Ravenous. I love its perfect blend of horror, comedy, and blithely homoerotic vampirism. Also it’s cool because it’s about cowboys eating each other.
If you could be any tree, what tree would you be and why?
Black alder. Since it prefers to grow in swampy ground, it’s symbolically considered a liminal tree and associated with danger and untrustworthiness – its growth might indicate the presence of treacherous quicksand or even evil water spirits. But it’s also considered to have the ability to protect and hide people in times of danger. It’s always felt like a very spiritual tree to me.
What is it about Folk Horror specifically that you love?
To me, folk horror is very much about our connection to the land and what happens when that connection gets severed. We live in a time when our disconnection from nature is really coming home to roost, with increasing diasters happening every year due to climate change, deforestation, pollution, and extinction. I think part of the reason that folk horror is having a moment now is that it’s in some ways uniquely able to tell stories about what happens when the wheel of the year is broken.
It’s almost cliche that authors live on black coffee and hard liquor. What are you drinking right now?
Mr. Brown canned coffee!
Bitter Karella is the writer and horror aficionado behind the Hugo-nominated microfiction comedy account @Midnight_pals, which asks what if all your favorite horror writers gathered around the campfire to tell scary stories. When not writing twitter jokes, she also dabbles in cartooning and text game design. See more of his work at www.bitterkarella.com