Whispers in the Shadows will be released on Friday the 13th. In the meantime, meet Louise Ross, author of The Cat Lady-
Louise Ross is a fantasy author who enjoys quilting, crocheting, and of course, writing. She lives in the greater Kansas City area with her husband and dog and loves writing stories about everyday folks living in fantastical worlds. She is a frequent contributor to the Just-Us League anthologies and is hard at work on her fantasy novel.
Q- What genre are you most comfortable writing?
A- I don’t know that I have an answer to this question. Often, my short pieces have an edge of horror to them. I am not afraid to kill people in my stories in horrific ways. Yet, when I write longer pieces, I tend to write about internal struggles or action stories. For instance, I wrote a novel about a troll girl struggling to adjust to her two cultures (troll and human) while trying to balance independence and love. I have a story about four cyborg brothers who have to figure out how to define their own humanity while dealing with societal pressures of work and romance. For action, I wrote a novel about an alchemist being hunted by mercenaries trying to stay alive while making a black market sale. I have a novella of a troll wedding planner who struggles through marrying violent and distrustful ogres. I guess I write a hodge podge of stories.
Q- Was writing horror hard?
A- Writing any genre is hard. Anytime I aim for a specific effect, I agonize over the result. Often I rely on beta reader feedback to let me know if I have succeeded in my aims. I think horror genre is specifically difficult because I don’t feel a lot of horror when reading. Even reading classic horror pieces, I feel more intrigued than horrified. Horror is also a very tactile and detailed genre. In that way, I have connected it in my head with action scenes.
Q- What inspired your idea?
A- I was originally inspired by a writing friend. He challenged me to write a tragedy involving a mythical beast. In the first story, the cats were chimera. The story never felt right. When the chance to write a horror story came along, I adapted the tragedy. I made the chimera into cats because often times the hint of reality makes horror more frightening and possible. I added the student because I think the horror of this story comes from the result of the cat lady’s actions rather than how she sees herself.
Q- What was the hardest part of writing this story?
A- The hardest part of this story was finding a balance between the things that scare me such as the results of the old lady’s actions with the more slasher horror of the cats chasing the boy.
Q- What scares you?
A- I am afraid of lots of things: snakes, the dark, being left alone, loved ones dying, burning pain, losing my job, never having children, being too vulnerable, never having an emotional connection with others, losing my memory, becoming insane, and a bunch of others. I’m a wuss.
Q- Why do people like to be scared?
A- I think being scared does a few things. It lets us confront something frightening without being directly involved. It gives us hope that we will not be the fool who in a crisis runs toward the shed full of saws. When the story ends, there is a lightness which comes from things ending well or from survival. I think it gets our adrenaline pumping.
Q- Favorite horror book or movie?
A- My favorite horror movie is anything Tim Burton. I love Sweeny Todd, Edward Scissor Hands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and The Corpse Bride. The combination of darkness over a light theme like love makes his movies thrilling. My favorite horror story is The Tell Tale Heart. I read it the first time in elementary school while hiding in bed under my covers. I wish I had read it at the breakfast table instead. It still gives me chills.
Q- What is one stereotype about horror writers is absolutely wrong? What stereotype is right?
A- Gosh, I don’t know stereotypes very well. Do people think horror writers write in the dark out in the woods? I definitely don’t do that. I do try to scare myself when I write horror. If there is nothing in the story that would give me chills or intrigue me, I assume I failed to write horror.
Q- What horror archetypes do you like? Which do you hate?
A- I try to avoid the stupid teen phenomenon. If I have a teen in trouble, I try to have them make good decisions. The go home, call for help, shut and lock doors, stay in well lit places, and so on. In my story, the teen very specifically goes home and the police are called. There is no daring someone to be stupid or macho bravery.
Q- How would you survive a horror story?
A- My favorite horror stories involve insanity or paranoia. I guess rule one: don’t exaggerate my own natural paranoia. No stimulants for me. Guess I’ll have to give up caffeine. Rule number 2: know that I am not sane. I believe this should involve being surrounded by sufficient “yes men.” People who tell me I’m right no matter what. . . or maybe I need the people who tell me when I am going crazy so I can course correct? Uh, oh. Now I’m getting anxious about what is right. I think the rules are having the opposite effect. New rule 1: there are no rules.
Don’t forget to check out The Cat Lady by Louise Ross in Whispers in the Shadows!