Author Interview: Keily Blair
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?
Honestly? Fanfiction. I had just started attending a new school and had a lot of social anxiety keeping me from making friends easily. I found comfort in expanding fictional universes by other authors. After a year of this, I started writing my own stories. Writing was my hobby for over ten years before I took it seriously.
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?
It’s about a small-town queer romance tainted by a dark presence. The story opens with the return of the main character’s childhood love interest to their hometown, but she speaks as though she’s mourning the occasion, and everyone seems to know why except the love interest. I wrote it as a personal challenge to write a story where the narrator knew the evils lurking in the small town rather than being ignorant like most of the stories I’ve read concerning folk horror.
What are your favorite genres to read and write?
Horror, fantasy (namely dark and epic), science fiction.
When did you first realize you loved horror and wanted to write it?
I’ve loved horror from a young age. I started reading horror with the Black Lagoon book series, graduated to the Bailey School Kids and Goosebumps, and went on from there. I didn’t realize how much fun it was to write horror until I turned twelve, though.
What is it about Folk Horror specifically that you love?
I grew up in a very religious environment, and I always had an interest in religious rituals, superstitions, and symbols. Folk horror taps into the dark nature of humanity, spirituality, and religion. It also lets me utilize my experience with small towns in Appalachia like the one where my grandparents were born and raised. Folk horror feels second nature to me.
Do you have any writing rituals?
It’s not exactly a ritual, but I organize everything in Scrivener. I try to write at least 1,000 words but aim for 2,000 each day. I’m trying to work my way up to 3,000. If I feel like doing any rituals at all, I’ll make a cup of black or herbal tea to drink while I write and try to stick to sitting at my desk, where I’m most productive.
Any advice for people who are considering becoming an author?
Learn to handle criticism. There is no way to get better if you ever think of yourself as being at the top of your game. Also, keep a list of your accomplishments to refer to when you get rejections. You’ll be surprised by how much it lessens the sting.
If you could be any tree, what tree would you be and why?
I think the most “folk horror” answer would be the quaking aspen. It appears as though it’s a whole forest of trees, but it’s really one giant organism once you get a look at its roots. What’s more “folk horror” than a giant shared root system that brings to mind old gods lurking in its midst?
Keily Blair (they/them) is an autistic, queer writer, as well as Managing Editor of the Signal Mountain Review. They hold a BA in English: Creative Writing from UT Chattanooga, where their nonfiction won the Creative Nonfiction Award. Their fiction has appeared in publications such as The Dread Machine, Cosmic Horror Monthly, Etherea, and The Vanishing Point. They are currently at work on their debut novel. You can find more details about their work at www.keilyblair.com or follow them on Twitter (@keily_blair). They live in Tennessee with their husband, dog, cat, and guinea pigs.