Please tell me a bit about yourself and your background as a writer (as well as any other interesting careers or hobbies you may have!).
I am a young adult author from Annapolis, Maryland. I’m sixteen-years-old at heart, and I’ve been imagining and writing stories since I can remember. I love writing YA because the teen years are a time of taking risks, discovering the unknown, and experiencing all those heart-pounding, swoon-worthy firsts. I enjoy writing about witches because they are powerful women. Although I’m terrible at casting any magic of my own, I am descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Dunkin of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky.
Now, tell me all about your latest book!
Koush Hollow (The Parliament House, 2020), a YA Southern Gothic, just released so I’d love to tell you about it! After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother. As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow: How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing? As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.
Who are some of your influences, as an author, particularly for this specific book?
For this book, I’d have to say it’s not who, but what influenced the story. The Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 was a big influence and it’s why Jenna is an eco-warrior. Then there’s the opening quote, “Beauty is a curse on the world for it keeps us from seeing who the real monsters are.” This is something I felt strongly about after dealing with a particularly nasty female narcissist who had a negative effect on my life for several years. Many lines from the story’s antagonist were taken from real life. Her behavior strongly influenced my desire to show that real beauty comes from inside and that a person with a good heart can overcome one ruled by greed and ambition.
Who are your favourite horror authors overall? Are there any authors out there you enjoy who write horror-comedy?
Stephen King is an obvious one. Pet Sematary, It, Firestarter, and Thinner were terrifyingly brilliant. I do wonder what his nightmares are really like.
Is horror comedy something you’d ever consider writing (or ever have written)?
I never rule anything out when it comes to writing because I have considered trying my hand at Adult Thrillers and really researched it, so maybe one day I’d like to do that, but because of some childhood experiences with the supernatural, I’d be afraid to delve into horror.
The interview continues...please read on!
I’ve had some scary experiences with a Ouija board, so I have to go with The Exorcist. Terrifying. A favorite horror-comedy is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I love this fun zombie take on Jane Austen’s classic novel. The female characters are strong and fantastic, plus I’m a huge Lily James fan.
And even more specifically, what is your favourite B-movie?
The Trilogy of Terror with Karen Black. It’s an oldie from the 1970s, but I still think twice about getting out of bed in the morning for fear that little Zulu doll that comes to life might jab at my feet with his long knife.
What are usually your Halloween traditions, and what do you plan for this more unusual year, what with COVID-19?
Because my friends and I have lost some older relatives, we like to dine together on Halloween night and make a toast to the ones who have passed on. With COVID-19, we’ll probably dine outdoors this year and hope for a full moon.
Thank you so much for chatting with me via email, Leigh!
AND IF YOU'D LIKE A LITTLE MORE INFO ON THE BOOKS AND MOVIES WE JUST DISCUSSED, YOU CAN FIND THE LINKS BELOW: