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Q - What inspires you to write horror?


It’s hard to pinpoint any one thing that inspires me to write it. I’ve been drawn to creepiness and the macabre since I was a kid (que my mother reading A Tell-Tale Heart to me in my brother’s room the day before my 5th birthday and me trying to scare people by drawing the creepiest monsters possible after blazing through as many Goosebumps books as I could), and I’ve enjoyed storytelling for just as long. A lot of my core inspirations thus stem from that time in my life, or things that remind me of that time. I’m also an illustrator, so a lot of my inspirations are also drawn from art, which then carries over into my writing. I live for scratchy pen and ink and sepia-toned illustrations and I think about Pietro Pajetta’s “The Hatred” often. 


For a long time though, my perspective of the horror genre was actually terribly skewed–I didn’t like “horror,” I liked “gothic fiction” and “dark fantasy.” I didn’t like zombies or movies like Paranormal Activity, and because I was young, I assumed that’s all that horror was, especially when those were the only genres of horror the people around me liked. (I actively read Red Dragon and watched A Cure For Wellness in highschool and told myself, “No, this isn’t horror, it's a psychological thriller,” completely unaware that psychological horror was a thing.)


It wasn’t until I stumbled across folk horror and its adjacent genres and realized I loved them, that I reevaluated my perspective on horror as a whole. Since then I’ve stepped back and started to reacquaint myself with even the subgenres I thought hated, and even though I still don't like some of them, I have a renewed appreciation for them. 


Q - Who is your favorite horror author/ Favorite horror book?


As far as horror books, my current favorites are My Swordhand Is Singing by Markus Sedgewick (a long time fav), What Moves the Dead by T.Kingfisher, and Manhunt by Gretchen-Felker Marten. Funnily enough, I’m still not very into apocalyptic “zombie” horror, but Manhunt ticked enough of the other boxes for me that I was grossly intrigued enough to keep reading. I’m glad I did, too, because it was brilliant. As for the other two, they’re much more along the lines of the horror that I typically enjoy. My Swordhand Is Singing especially has had an influence on my storytelling in general. In it, the vampires are far more monster-like than human, and that aspect was what first sparked my interest in different interpretations from how popular creatures in media are typically portrayed. 


I can’t say I have a favorite author per se, but I love the work of the illustrator John Kenn Mortensen. I found him years ago through his “sticky monsters” series, and I just find myself drawn to the creepy yet storybook nature of his illustrations. 


Q - What are some challenges of writing queer-centered horror?


For me, it’s definitely getting past the nagging doubts in my head about wanting to write queer characters who aren't these perfect pillars of morality. What can I say, I love queer villains (what's the phrase, “I support queer rights and queer wrongs”?). But I also know that especially in the horror genre, villains were all the representation queer folks could get for a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of discourse about it over the last several years and whether continued portrayals of “negative” queer characters does harm to the broader community. The discussion seems to have balanced out and gotten more nuanced now (or maybe it just seems that way because I've finally found a place among similar authors to myself), but I do still worry about it. I have to say, all this is part of why I liked Manhunt so much. A lot of the characters in that book were not great people, but they were still handled so well. Reading it boosted my confidence that I can do the same with my own characters. 


Q - Do you have any announcements you wish to share?


I’m currently working on the revisions for my first folk horror novella, which is kind of my love letter to the subgenre that made me realize “oh, I do like horror actually.” The story features a corrupt priest, a village cult, a pagan woodsman, and a forest god. If anyone is interested in being involved with beta reading, arcs, or the street team for it, they can sign up on the google form:


Q - Where can readers find you?


Other than my website, I’ve got a newsletter if folks want to stay updated. I only send it out when I’ve got news to share, so it shouldn’t feel too inundating. Signing up will also get you an exclusive copy of one of my short stories. I’ve also got a little blog on medium where I post other short stories and long form ramblings and occasionally review and feature other indie books that I like. 


As far as socials, I’m most active on Insta, Twitter (airic_fenn) and Tumblr (airic-fenn) the most. I have a tik tok which folks are also free to follow but I don't post quite as often. 

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