The way “Candlelight” plays with and subverts the tragic lovers story made it such an enjoyable read for me. Is there a version of that story (or maybe another inversion!) that you especially enjoy or that’s always stuck with you?
Oh man, I’m such a sucker for love stories, tragic and otherwise. One tragic lovers story that sticks with me is Aimee Bender’s “The Devourings” from her collection The Color Master. It’s about an ogre’s human wife and what happens to their marriage after a tragic mistake results in their children’s deaths. I’ve always loved how Bender uses classic fairytale elements—which usually also means fun horror and romance elements as well—to offer a deeper look at not only how love can feed us, but how it can eat away at us, too.
You’ve written a lot in the realm of ghost stories and fairy tales, “Candlelight” having some elements of both. Is there something in particular that draws you to those types of stories?
I grew up as a PK, a preacher’s kid, and so I took in a lot of stories at a very young age about miracles, ghosts, Hell, transformation, grueling journeys, great love, and great violence. I think in large part because of this early start with religion, I’ve always felt a deep connection to stories that operate by similar rules and types of logic, such as fairytales and ghost stories.
If you could go back and physically rewrite a famous work of literature, which one would you pick and why?
Oooh like who would I go back in time to push down the stairs so I could claim their masterpiece for my own with all my own tweaks and changes? My first thought is probably Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, but I’m cracking up even as I say that, because I know I feel that way thanks to Kate Bush’s song “Wuthering Heights,” which I heard before I read the book. I’m just wild for her retelling of that story.
Lastly, what are you working on right now? Or alternatively, do you have a favorite piece you’ve published elsewhere that we can link to?
I’m very excited (and superstitious) about a dark fairytale novel I have in the works right now. It’s in the flavor and feeling of some of my more romantic, less “real” world stories; stories like “Breathing Room” (Uncharted), “When the Horse Came to the Open House” (Zooscape), and “The Feast” (Carve and PodCastle). I’ve always loved how the genres of horror and romance are forever caught within a haunting near-kiss of each other, and I’ve strived to capture some of that sensation in my novel. For more updates regarding my work and story recs in general, you might check out my weekly horror newsletter.