Meet Hanna Day, author of The Renewal-
Hanna Day is a writer from Southern California with an interest in history, fantasy and the deep, dark existential horrors of the unknown. When not contemplating the vastness of space or writing, she works as a digital marketer. “The Renewal” was inspired by the works of H.P Lovecraft. Other publications include contributions to local newspapers and magazines.
Q- What genre are you most comfortable writing?
A- I typically write in the epic fantasy genre, however I’m comfortable switching genres when I need to. In fact, it’s quite fun and challenging switching things up!
Q- Was writing horror hard?
A- I started seriously writing horror about a year ago, and while I don’t think it was difficult it was challenging. I had to rethink how to write the story and approach the writing from a different angle. Writing horror forced me to think about all of the horror books I’ve read and identify what made it horror. For example, I paid attention to the descriptions I used and focused on strange, bizarre details to help set the scene.
Q- What inspired your idea?
A- While I was putting my epic fantasy novel through Scribophile, many readers noted that the magic system I created was quite horrifying. At first I thought it was only one reader’s opinion, but then the sentiment echoed throughout many readers. As I was determining what kind of horror short stories I could contribute to anthologies I decided to segment the most horrifying element and condense the worldbuilding to its single, most horrifying element. I wanted to see how heavily I could condense the world to new readers and amplify my unintentional horror.
Q- What was the hardest part of writing this story?
A- Condensing an epic fantasy novel’s worth of worldbuilding into a short story new readers can understand.
Q- What scares you?
A- Monsters don’t scare me. Things that go bump in the night don’t either, or visceral details in horror fiction. What scares me is when a situation is out of your control. When you understand that nothing you can do can help a situation, and there is absolutely nothing you can do.The elements of the story doesn’t have to be supernatural, but something that could happen to you unexpectedly. When you are trying your best to help someone in mortal peril, but fail.
This is terrifying because it is very real. I’m attracted to the horror genre not only because of the paranormal element, but because I feel that all horror fiction I’ve read has never quite caught that existential hopelessness, and because it’s a feeling I’ve never quite been able to capture in words.
Q- Why do people like to be scared?
A- Having been to many annual Halloween-themed haunts, watched a lot of horror movies and read many horror books, I think I’ve begun to understand why people like to be scared. There’s an adrenaline rush that comes with being scared. It’s similar to the kind of adrenaline rush you get when you’re doing something dangerous. It’s a thrill, and even though you know you will be scared it’s that rush that gets you.
Q- Favorite horror book or movie?
A- I have several favorite books and movies, so it’s hard to pick just one! I enjoy anything that isn’t hardcore slasher or super gory, like the later Saw movies (though I thought the first one was excellent).
My go-to favorite horror novel is Misery by Stephen King, and the movie adaptation is also excellent!
Q- What is one stereotype about horror writers is absolutely wrong? What stereotype is right?
A- Perhaps the stereotype that a lot of horror writers must be weird people! Yes, there are a lot of weird people who like or write in the genre, but what I find hilarious is how many of the craziest horror I’ve read are written by people who seem least likely to like horror!
Q- What horror archetypes do you like? Which do you hate?
A- My favorite kind of horror is psychological horror, such as Stephen King’s Misery and Psycho. Monsters are all good and fun, but at the end of the day what’s really terrifying is something that could happen. You know that the monsters aren’t real, but there are people who are monsters.
The power of the horror usually comes from great characters and powerful, overwhelming antagonists. Plots commonly revolve around the relationship between the protagonist and antagonist, and have simple plotlines (most centering around the protagonist’s desire to escape).
Q- How would you survive a horror story?
A- I’ve always said that if the zombie apocalypse ever happened I would go away from civilization and ride out the apocalypse in a cabin in the woods (though that too sounds like a horror story!). But it’s hard to say how I would survive a horror story, as there are so many different kinds of horror situations I wouldn’t be able to survive (could I escape Annie Wilkes? Probably not).
Check out The Renewal by Hanna Day in Whispers in the Shadows!