Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a horror writer.
I’m Alyanna Poe, author of three self-published novels and a few short stories here and there. Many people ask if Poe is my real last name, and it is! We’ve recently traced my lineage back to Edgar Allan Poe’s grandfather! That makes me Edgar’s first cousin six times removed! Had I been born in the 1800s, I could have been Edgar’s first cousin *wink wink*.
Being a Poe impacted my writing greatly. I profusely read about Edgar as a kid and even performed as him for a report in elementary school. When we learned about him in middle school, everyone made the comment that it only made sense I’m a Poe. I apparently have similar attributes to him, being goth and eccentric.
I’ve been writing since a young age. I believe I was eight when I completed my first children’s story.
Twilight was all the rage when I was about ten, so kids at school would play werewolves vs. vampires. I had never seen or read Twilight, so began my journey writing what I didn’t realize was a sort of fan fiction. I was ten when I started that, and it was about my best friend and I being vampires and fighting a werewolf. Very creative, no?
In late elementary school and middle school, I began experimenting with poetry and short stories. At twelve, I had my first poem published in Young American Poetry Digest 2013. Of course, it was a sappy haiku about nighttime, but it was a start.
I was thirteen when I wrote my first horror short story. I had been reading my first Stephen King piece, The Stand, and I loved it. I also loved zombies. So, I wrote a piece called “Corpses”. It was an action piece about a couple losing their daughter as she turns into a zombie. They flee to the abandoned city where the husband jumps off a building in a fit of sorrow. Excessive for a thirteen-year-old, but I only got worse from there.
Came high school, I wasn’t very popular. I had anger problems, and my mom told me I needed a way to express my feelings. That night I plotted out my first novel, EATEN, at fourteen years old. I started writing at school, using any free time I had.
High school wasn’t fun for me, being different I was bullied a lot, so a month into my sophomore year, I left. I was fifteen when I started homeschooling and sixteen when I graduated. All this time I had been steadily working on EATEN, until I got sick.
The day I received my diploma in the mail, I threw up. Little did I know I was amongst a thyroid storm, the effect of not being diagnosed with Graves’ disease until it was almost too late. I lost a lot of weight as I couldn’t eat without ejecting it, and the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me. At first, they told me I had signs of liver cancer, until my mom suggested for them to check my thyroid after she did some research herself. I was finally diagnosed and given the right medicine, just not the right amount. They gave me such a high dose that I experienced the side effects at such an extreme level. The joint pain was the worst, feeling like my limbs were going to fall off at any time. I couldn’t sleep or walk until my parents lowered my dose against doctors’ orders.
Two months of lying in bed, and I finally was able to play with my dogs and go outside again.
With all that said, I finally understood the pain of an illness, which was what the main character of my book EATEN was going through. I could finally write her story from the perspective of someone going through something similar.
And that’s how I became a horror author. I don’t write. I cut myself open and bleed onto the page for all to see.
What piece of writing are you most proud of and why?
Definitely my first self-published book EATEN. After six months of querying and over thirty form rejections from agents, I finally got an answer from an indie publisher. He told me what was wrong with the first manuscript, so I got to work rewriting the entire first three chapters and editing the rest. When I finished, I decided that I had worked so hard on it that I would publish it myself. It took a lot for me to decide that as I had seen so much negativity surrounding self-published authors. Now that I’ve been apart of the community for two years, I do understand some of the negativity as there are self-published authors that don’t take the craft seriously, but that small percentage shouldn’t sink the boat for the rest that treat this craft with respect and honor the art form. Self-published authors should be treated with the same respect as traditionally published authors.
EATEN was the start of my career. I didn’t realize this when I was fourteen. I had plans of becoming a deputy, but when the other cadets made me feel unsafe in the local Sheriff’s volunteer program I was a part of from sixteen (after I was somewhat healthy) to seventeen, and when I realized that the Graves’ disease limits what I can do physically, I decided that writing would be my career. I self-published EATEN when I was eighteen and started my journey, meeting amazing people along the way, like you guys.
What books did you read as a child that inspired you to become an Author?
I read anything I could get my hands on. I loved Halloween and vampire themed kids’ books the most. I think my favorite was The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer. I read that series over and over again. Poe was always an influence since elementary school, and Stephen King’s influence began in middle school. From then on, I really dove into the horror genre.
Tell us about the first piece of writing you had published and how that impacted you?
Technically, the poem I wrote when I was twelve was my first published piece, but it didn’t feel as significant as my first book, and even that was self-published. Since then, I’ve self-published two other novels and posted short stories to my blog, but that’s all self-promoted and such. Only recently did I decide to submit short stories to presses and publishers. The first story was accepted just in June of this year. I was ecstatic. I got paid a whole $13 for a short story and it was going to be in a book that I didn’t have to make myself! It meant so much to me that I went on a whole two month mission of only submitting short stories, racking up twenty total submissions, including the story I submitted to y’all.
Besides horror, what is your favourite genre to read?
I really enjoy science fiction, but it’s got to wow me. I love heavy imagery describing weird aliens and picturesque planets.
How do you position your horror fiction when selling to agents, publications, etc. to ensure it's not relegated to just "genre fiction?"
I don’t! If they don’t like genre fiction, then they probably won’t like my work. There’s a reason I write horror, I love it. I write excessive gore, to some aspects it could be called torture porn, so when pitching it, I make that known. I would never want an agent or publisher to work with my writing if they don’t believe in it as much as I do. I do a lot of research before selecting an agent/publisher to ensure I’m submitting my piece to someone who will love it as it is.
Any advice for people who are considering becoming an author?
So many people tell me, “I want to write a story, but I don’t know where to start.”
You know that first sentence swimming around in your head? Yeah, the one you are unsure about?
Write it. Just write it down. Without a start, there can be no end, the end being a finished story of course. If you write something terrible, there’s always the option to edit it, but you can’t edit a blank page, okay?
Another piece of advice I wish I had been told: the market is hard. Some people find instant success, then there’s people like me struggling for a few dollars a month from writing. If you’re doing it for fun, go for it! If you’re looking for it to be your career, do as much research as possible to find viable ways to turn your writing into a paying career. For me, it’s been a ton of hard work, but I’m way ahead of where I was when I first published my book.
Alyanna Poe: an author from Northern California with a knack for horror. Poe has been writing since a young age and self-published her first horror novel at eighteen years old. Many ask what her real name is, only to be surprised that she is a born Poe with relations to the great Edgar Allan Poe. To check out her writing, head to her website authoralyannapoe.com and follow her on Instagram @authoralyannapoe ( https://www.instagram.com/authoralyannapoe/ ) and Twitter @alyannapoe ( https://twitter.com/AlyannaPoe ) For her self-published books, head over to Amazon! ( https://www.amazon.com/Alyanna-Poe/e/B07ZB1QCDF?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3&qid=1626711376&sr=8-3 )