Friday, April 13, 2018

Interview With Pamela Morris



When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

There isn’t a time in my life that I can remember NOT wanting to be a writer. A few years ago my dad found some of my old papers from grade school. In the collection was a spiral bound notebook that I’d made into a picture book. It was broken down into labeled chapters/topics such as fruit, houses of the world, jobs people do, that sort of thing. Each was given an illustration and a page number.  There was even a table of contents. I was seven when I did that. I went on to write and illustrate my first stories when I was nine, “Bill, The Worm Who Ran Away” and “The Mysterious Well”. Thanks by my father, I still have the originals in my archives. So, to answer the questions, it was never a realization, it has always been part of my identity.

What does your writing schedule look like?

I hesitate to call it a schedule. There’s really nothing consistent or scheduled about it. As I still work a fulltime job, writing happens whenever I can squeeze it in, after dinner during the week if I can manage to be alert enough and on weekends. When I do find the time, I insist on getting down at least 1000 words before walking away from the keyboard to do other things.

Do you have any interesting writing rituals? If so, what are they?

Not really. When that weekend arrives and I have some time to myself in the morning, I’ll check my email and all the social media sites while sipping that first cup of coffee. Once that’s done and my cup is filled a second time, I’ll turn on some blues music and get to work, writing as much as I can for as long as I can.

Do you like writing short stories or novels?

Though I’ve written many short stories, novels are my main focus. I really enjoy creating well-rounded characters and short stories don’t really allow me to do that as much as I like. I feel too hurried and restricted when I attempt a short story.

How is the horror scene where you live?

Nonexistent. I live in a very small town in the Finger Lakes area of Central New York State. The only time Horror comes into the picture is around Halloween and the spook houses start running. There is (or was) a Zombie Walk about an hour away and another closer one that did make a go of it, but it only lasted a couple of years.

Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?

A little bit of both. In the cases of the two paranormal murder-mysteries I’ve written, outlining was very important. I had to know a lot of information behind the scenes before anything was written in order to get the whole Who-Done-It part right – multiple motives, alibis, opportunities, and secrets that needed keeping all had to be considered in detail. Beyond those – with the straight up Horror – I don’t outline a darn thing. I know how things get started, I may have a vague feeling for scenes later on, and I have idea where I want it to all end. The fine details come to me as I write and often change where I thought something was going to go when I first started. I prefer to have my characters lead me instead of my leading them. That’s the best part of writing for me.

How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process?

I don’t think it changed the process any, but it did give me a boost of hope that maybe this childhood dream wasn’t always going to be just a dream. It made me take it all a bit more seriously, to write with more vigilance and to learn more about the writing process from other writers.

What do you think makes a good horror story? 

A slow, but steady, build-up of fear. It’s not about grossing people out, or blood and guts and jump scares for me. I want to draw, and be drawn, into the lives of the characters, to know what scares them, to see their weakness, and then bring in the ‘monster’ that pulls them further and further away from their comfort zone. The monster also needs to be complex, not just a mindless killer. He or she needs a real motive and a weakness to feel real to me. That’s what I like to read and that’s how I try to write.

What are you currently working on?

The current Work In Progress is the second part of a book I released last fall titled The Witch’s Backbone Part 1: The Curse. Part Two starts out exactly where Part One ends, word for word, and it subtitled The Murder. This is a coming-of-age piece set in 1980. A group of kids decide they want to prove the local legend about a witch’s curse isn’t true, that it’s just a story meant to keep kids away from a dangerous area. Unfortunately, the witch in question has other ideas about that. It will be the fourth book in my Barnesville Chronicles series.

What is in your TBR pile?

I’ve just finished up one of the Odd Thomas books by Dean Koontz and am soon to get started on my first Tim Meyer novel, Sharkwater Beach. After that I’ve got a few YA novels lined up, including Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs. Hunter Shea’s Mail Order Massacres, House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy and the third book in Jason Brant’s West of Hell series, Sheol round off the current stack which will have been added to by the time this interview gets out there, I’m sure.

What is the last book that scared you?

Fiction, as a rule, doesn’t scare me because I am fully aware that it’s fiction. In this case, I’m going to have to go with non-fiction and a topic that has fascinated me for decades, Bigfoot! The whole concept of Bigfoot freaks me out and the last book I read about these cryptids was Lyle Blackburn’s Beyond Boggy Creek: In Search of the Southern Sasquatch. Stories of these creatures go back thousands of years and can be found nearly everywhere on earth – and yet, we mere humans have yet to prove scientifically that they exist. I want to know! The truth is out there! 

What is your favorite horror book?

The first horror novel I had to stop reading at night was The Owlsfane Horror by Duffy Stein and though it certainly left a lasting impression, I hesitate to call it my favorite. I read it again many years later and it wasn’t as frightening the second time. I think maybe my favorite horror book is going to have to be an anthology I got back in high school called A Feast of Blood which contains short stories all about vampires such as Stoker’s Dracula’s Guest, Wake Not The Dead by Ernst Raupach, and my all-time favorite vampire short story, Blood Son penned by the always amazing, Richard Matheson. I still have the book and you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands for me to ever part with it.

What is your favorite horror film?

Hands down, the original 1963 version of The Haunting based on Shirley Jackson’s book The Haunting of Hill House. I’ve watched it a dozen times and it never fails to give me goose bumps. It’s just so well done and holds so true to the feelings and moods Jackson was going for in the book.

What is your spirit animal?

Crows and ravens. It all started with Poe, of course, but I’ve come to love and admire these birds on a more mundane level for many years now. I have books, artwork, stuffed plushies, t-shirts, and jewelry featuring crows and ravens. I’m in a Facebook group that shares my fascination. I even have a small murder that stops by my yard now and then begging for food – unsalted peanuts in the shell and some high quality cat food. We don’t have any other pets so – I feed the crows instead. Crows are a main feature in my Barnesville Chronicles, too. I got tired of them always being portrayed as evil and nasty, so have turned the tables on that and set them up as very helpful familiars to the local witches coven.

What is your favorite beer?

I don’t drink a lot of beer, but when I do, I prefer Corona with lime or Modelo Especial. Dos Equis isn’t bad either.

If you could have a beer with one author, who would it be?

Without hesitation, Hunter Shea. 


Author Bio: 

Raised in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, but forever longing for the white sands of her birthplace in New Mexico, Pamela has always loved mysteries and the macabre. Combining the two in her own writing, along with her love for historical research and genealogy, came naturally. Hours spent watching 'Monster Movie Matinee', 'Twilight Zone', ‘Kolchak: The Night Stalker”, a myriad of Hammer Films, and devouring books by Stephen King, Tanith Lee, and Anne Rice probably helped, too.
Outside of her work as a novelist, Pamela has written numerous historic articles for the Tioga County Courier, an Owego, NY newspaper. She has done genealogy research for family and friends and was a Civil War reenactor for close to ten years. In 2014 Pamela joined the ranks of writers for the online magazine, The Good Men Project. When not writing, she’s trying to scrapbook, watch bad B-Movies, take road trips with her husband, and semi-tame the crows that frequent their back yard.
You can find out more about Pamela and her work on her website pamelamorrisbooks.com as well as by following her on Twitter (pamelamorris65) and giving her Facebook page a like at https://www.facebook.com/PamelaMorrisBooks/

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