Let's start with Tara Fox Hall. As one of the "queens of spook", I want to know what are some things in real life that truly scare you?
Not much scares me in real life. Like my character Sar from Promise Me, what my faith can’t handle, my guns can usually take care of. Conversation killers like disease and the infirmity of old age are what scare me most, though a close second is the political scene in my country as we approach the presidential election.
Ms. Twist, who's been such a regular here at Unwritten, it feels as though she's my roommate...as the other "queen of spook", what truly scares you?
I feel like we're room-mates, too. I can hardly believe we've never actually met face-to-face.
In books and films, I prefer the subtle stuff. The axe-wielding monster just makes me laugh. I like the thing behind the door, scratching in the dark... whispering...In real life what scares me is death.
Tara, I think many writers consider putting together anthologies (either collaboratively or by themselves), so tell us who came up with the idea of this anthology, and how did you decide what stories to include in it?
My dear friend Jenny and I were talking about how much we wanted to be in another anthology together, but there were no plans for Melange Books to do a Spellbound 2012 (We met while doing spellbound 2011). Undeterred, we asked Melange if we could do a scary anthology to publish in fall 2012. The answer was yes, and immediately we began picking stories. I love “Doppelganger”, and requested that story of Jenny’s for this anthology. I also wanted to see my previously published Return To Me in print, so that made the list. My story of Latham’s Landing, “All That Remains”, had been shelved for Spellbound 2012, so that was an easy addition. It took us only a short time to come up with a list of proposed stories.
Jenny, I know some of the stories were previously published in other works ("Doppleganger", for instance). Did you write any stories specifically FOR this collection?
I wrote “The Children of Hope” for a Melange anthology about 'having my baby', but it turned out I'd got hold of the wrong end of the stick and they wanted something inspirational about a couple having a baby together, so it never made it.
“Voices” I wrote for 'Clever Fiction', which is an internet site that issues a short story challenge every week. They give you three words you must include and a word limit. “The Bull-Dancer” you know about. I wrote it for you. All the others were written specifically for this collection.
Tara, which story would you say was your favorite and why? Share a short snippet of it here:
I was going to say Doppelganger, then realized I was supposed to pick one of my own stories. LOL.
Here is a snippet of the horror story, "Shades of Grey":
The gnarled hand offered the leather-bound tome with a simple cross on the cover. “Take heed of these writings, Majesty. They are not something you can afford to ignore.”
The military man’s look was scornful. “What I need is divine assistance to win this war against Maxentius. I am a warrior, old man, not a scholar.”
The man Constantine was that, but he could be much more, if a deft hand but guided his next steps. He could be an instrument for change and bring order out of chaos, combining the elements of various warring religions into one creed that all could embrace.
“The best generals are those familiar with geography of both land and the curve of ink across a parchment page. Do you not believe a great destiny awaits you? God offers you His divine assistance, if you will but accept His teachings.”
Constantine accepted the tome as if it was coated in poison. “These Christians, as they call themselves, are nothing to me. Why should I be concerned with their tribal beliefs? Do you not know I am right now preparing for the battle for control of Rome?”
More than Rome was at stake. The future of the world would be decided tonight.
“No man is above their people,” the figure said, as it strode out the door. “Even an emperor as great as you are to be, Constantine, need always remember that.”
Sometimes all that was needed was a suggestion. Other times, The Seer had to push them as hard as he could to get them to achieve their greatness. His greatest reward was that moment of knowing he had achieved equilibrium, as the possible futures he had foreseen narrowed down finally into one singular course.
The grey clad old man walked quickly down the offal strewn city street, his eyes ignoring the hands that reached out to catch the hem of his coat, or plead for mercy. Mercy was not his to give. His life’s work—and it had been a long life—was keeping the world in balance. There could be no missteps.
There could be no mercy.
Jenny, which one was YOUR favorite and why? Share a short snippet of it here:
I'm assuming you mean one of mine?
“The Man With No Face”. It's one of those that starts off quite cosy, slowly gets more creepy, and then hits you with a surprise (and rather nasty) ending.
Here is a snippet:
I read somewhere that most people have no memory before the age of five and that very few indeed can remember anything before the age of two. It’s not that babies can’t think. It’s that they haven’t learnt how to save their thoughts as memories.
But I have a memory much earlier than that.
I am sitting in my pram. I know I am in a pram because the hood is up and the view in front of me is framed by the edge of the hood. I can see this very clearly. It has a trim of elasticated material, black with a white pattern. The pattern may be writing. I can’t tell because I am too young to read.
Through the hood, in front of me, is a garden, bounded by a high brick wall. The wall is covered in a riot of red flowers. I know now the plant is Japonica, but in the memory I have no words for anything. In the middle of the garden there are two people locked in a clumsy embrace. Either they are standing very still or the memory is a still picture—a snapshot in time.
I can see the woman very clearly. She is wearing a white cotton frock with a pattern of tiny blue flowers. Her face is turned toward me, and it bears an expression of anguish. I think she is my mother.
But I can’t see the man clearly at all. I’m not even sure it is a man. But I think it is. He is a shadowy figure, one hand gripping my mother, if she is my mother, the other held over his head. He is holding something aloft, something long and thin—a stick perhaps. I can’t see it clearly at all. Everything about the man is out of focus.
I have always believed that if I could just see his face, if I could identify him, I would understand everything.
My favourite story of Tara's is the last one in the book, “Shades of Grey” (no resemblance to the blockbuster series, thank God). It is SO clever. And again. I love the end.
Tara, I know you're dying for a random question, so...you suspect your hottie nocturnal neighbor is a vampire. Do you:
a) Devise a way to kill him (via stake, silver bullet, etc) because who needs vampires?
b) Ask him to not to feast on you in return for getting his mail and watering his plants when he's gone.
c) Invite him in and ask him to make you one of his kind.
D) Offer to help him with anything he wanted in exchange for him reading my vampire books and offering pointers. I would love to speak to a real vampire (or weresnake, for that matter), and would be thrilled to call one friend. I’d only kill one in self-defense. : )
Jenny, here's your random question. You discover, after waking up to something poking you at night, that you have a resident ghost. Do you:
a) Call an exorcist/shaman/psychic immediately. That ghost has got to go!
b) Move out. Let the ghost have the place!
c) Try to negotiate. The ghost can stay so long as he leaves you alone at night and straightens up the house.
None of the above. I have always wanted to see a real ghost. I've spoken to so many people who have and I'm so jealous. I'd want to communicate with it if I could and certainly observe it. It can stay as long as likes if it doesn't frighten my guests.
I do believe that was one fun interview. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I'm pretty sure I'll see you ladies back here soon. Best of luck with this new release!