An Interview with Faith Marlow - Women in Horror Month
Faith Marlow is, not only an extremely talented writer and world-builder, she is also one of my best friends in the industry. Her Being Mrs Dracula series brings new life to Stoker's legendary vampire, and her short stories are exquisite. I am delighted to be able to interview her for Women in Horror month.
Faith, how would you describe your brand of horror?
My tag line is Sweetly Twisted, and that does pretty well at defining me and my work. I love horror and all sorts of creepy things, dark and twisted stories. I also love cute things, girly things, inspiring stories with happy endings. The characters I write may find themselves in traumatic situations. They may discover they are capable of horrible things, but I try to add layers to that. They are characters who feel, who love, and who are imperfect but trying. I have a character that watches Bob Ross paint when they can’t sleep. I wrote about a werewolf who was more upset that she “accidentally” ate her cats than shredding her terrible boss. In "Being Mrs. Dracula", the final straw for Valeria is seeing invaders stealing her beautiful gowns after invading her castle. I like adding those quirky twists to characters that are hopefully endearing to readers.
Why do you write horror?
I like to write horror for the same reason I like to read and watch it. I love the quick pace and adrenaline rush. When a character is faced with enormous odds, and finds a way to overcome it, you celebrate that victory with them. But I always love the surprise if the main character doesn’t survive, or if the world isn’t saved. Horror is one of the few genres that offer that.
Who, in the horror genre, inspires you?
I am fortunate to call some of the most talented authors in the horror genre my friends. Authors such as P. Mattern a.k.a Momma Fang, Lily Luchesi, Skyne Knizley, Kindra Sowder, T.A. Scott (and her amazing special effects make-up), and yourself are always raising the bar. Christy Aldrige is a fellow Southern (US) woman in horror and I love following her on Instagram. She had great books and is always keeping her page interesting.
Lindsey “Mass Gravette” Seranno of Mass Grave pictures is absolutely amazing. I love seeing what goes into the film making process and then watching them rack up all the awards. I love following the art of Iren Horrors and Abigail Larson. Nancy Nightmare of the band Nancy Nightmare and the Wizard create the best songs, all with a horror theme. They are amazingly talented and creative, not to mention she has amazing style.
What’s the favourite comment you’ve received in a review?
I have been fortunate to receive some very kind words, but two come to mind. I was told by two readers that they considered my Being Mrs. Dracula series to be canon in the Dracula saga. That warmed my heart and made me so proud because I worked very hard to be respectful to the source content, while trying to make the series my own story.
Another reader who had the same first name as one of my characters told me that when they were feeling down or when going through a difficult time in their life, they could read that story and see how the character overcame their adversity and it was encouraging to them.
I can’t imagine higher compliments than those.
Which works by female film-makers and/or authors will you be reading/watching this February?
I am looking forward to reading your new release, The Venus Virus.
Aww, shucks. You say the sweetest things, Faith.
Who is your favourite woman in horror?
It would be impossible to pick just one “real life” woman. However, if we're talking fiction, I would have to pick Ellen Ripley from the Alien series. She is smart, confident, capable, tender, gentle, and savage, all into one. She is a woman in a man’s world but she never loses her femininity. She is an amazing character and I can only strive to make characters as wonderful as she is.
Why do you think women are attracted to the horror genre?
I think women enjoy the horror genre because it turns the tables. Typically women are victims of violence, abuse, or find themselves in dangers they are ill equipped to overcome on their own. We see stories in the news every day about women who are attacked and killed by a SO, victim-shaming rape cases, and women who simply just disappear. In a society that can be dangerous for women, particularly women of color and LGBTQ+ women, it just feels good to see a strong woman character outsmart her enemy. The horror genre lets women characters and creators “take one back” for the team. It’s just very satisfying to see the underdog hero come out on top, or become the adversary nobody was prepared to deal with.
Would you be a villain, victim or hero in a horror story?
Just being honest, if it came down to physical ability I probably wouldn’t last long. I’m loud; I don’t run very fast, or for very far; and I’m not particularly strong. But if it was a more psychological battle, I think I would hold up better. I would like to think I could outsmart a villain, at least for a while. I’m fairly resourceful and can keep a fairly cool head in a stressful situation, so maybe I would trap the monster somehow. I did grow up watching MacGyver so who knows?
Who is your favourite female villain?
Nancy from The Craft has to be at the top of my list. She has so much rage and becomes so misguided but at the same time, we love her for it. When she’s screaming “He’s sorry; he’s sorry” just before launching Skeet Ulrich’s character out the bedroom window, we were all on Nancy’s side. She is a great villain but she also serves as a caution because while getting so much power so quickly may be what led to her downfall, it was all the unresolved pain and anger that did the damage. She had become defined by that and ended up losing herself. It also makes us question, would we have done any better in her situation?
I also have a soft spot for Maleficent and the Wicked Witches in the Wizard of Oz. These women have gotten the short end of the stick and, in my mind, have a right to be pissed. I also include Rexy from Jurassic Park and the Alien Queen as villains, even though they were just trying to live their lives and humans had to be somewhere they didn’t belong- which made them the bad guys.
What’s your least favourite horror trope?
Jump scares drive me insane. I like to be scared and surprised and taken off guard, but when it relies on a cat jumping off a shelf or a surprise face in the car window, it gets on my nerves. Also the idea that all teenagers are too horny and too dumb to make a single proactive step to save themselves is tired. As the mother of a young adult, I understand that that age group lacks experience but I think it casts them unfairly.
Do you believe in the supernatural?
Yes. I definitely believe there are things that we cannot explain.
Have you had any spooky real life experiences you’re willing to share?
I have had several things come up over the years. The most personal was just after my mother passed away. My husband and I spent the night at my parents' house the night of her viewing (southern speak for receiving friends) since her funeral was the next morning. We slept in my parents' room, as it was the larger of their bedrooms. The next morning as I was putting on make-up and fixing hair, I caught the silhouette or shadow of someone out of the corner of my eye in the mirror. When I turned around, there was no one there. This happened several times and I discovered if I looked indirectly with the mirror instead of turning around I could see better. It was the exact silhouette of my mother, same height, size, rounded shoulders- everything. I told her I would be okay, and the shadow disappeared but I felt her presence as surely as she was standing there in the flesh. I know it sounds too amazing to be true but I would take a lie detector test to prove it’s not a lie.
Monsters and Horror Heroes. Who would you snog, kill and marry?
Snog Selene from Underworld, because who wouldn’t… right? Kill Pennywise from It. (A killer clown that eats kids… he’s got to go) and marry Gomez Addams because I basically have already. My husband is the Gomez to my Morticia.
What apocalyptic event will you survive and how?
The Trump administration, because I refuse to stop giving a shit about the people he and those in his administration despise. I refuse to believe this is the best we can do. I will vote and continue to contact my representatives and senators about matters that concern me so they can hear where I stand. It’s a hard time to be a dystopian author right now! The zombies or a super virus might get me. Global warming might fry me to a crisp, but hate will not win on my watch.
Tell us briefly about your work in progress.
Right now I am putting the finishing touches on Being Dracula’s Heir, the third book in my Being Mrs. Dracula series. I am also working on a project centred around Medusa. It’s been a lot of fun seeing that story develop because her death has always been the focus of her existence. I wanted to talk of her life.
Share the opening of one of the stories you’ve had published.
included in "Another Beautiful Nightmare" anthology
Libby sat in the lobby of a new medical office, filling out the
booklet of paperwork on a clipboard. She was trying to ignore the
gnawing pinch of the button on the waistband of her jeans as
they creased her belly. Her good jeans were soaking in a bucket of
cold, soapy water on top of the washing machine. She hoped she
could get the bloodstain out because it wasn't in her budget to
buy new jeans, especially after being out extra gas money for her thirty-minute drive one way to the office. A sneeze, a pair of soiled pants, the following emotional meltdown, and years of frustration had brought her here, to an address on the bottom of a newspaper ad. She was seeking help in the only place she had left. She was going to be a lab rat. She took the newspaper clipping from her purse and read over it again.
What three pieces of advice would you offer anyone wanting to create horror?
I would advise writing what you enjoy because it will come much more naturally that way. Write what scares you, because then you know you are challenging yourself and it helps to keep your work fresh. And for three, I would say to pay attention to what you dream. Maybe have a dream journal next to your bed or make a note on your phone because your brain has some pretty amazing ways of processing information, and some of them might be things that you are afraid of. Chances are if it scares you, it will probably resonate with readers.
Faith Marlow is a dark fantasy/ paranormal/ horror author with Vamptasy Publishing, an imprint of CHBB. Her stories stir emotions and explore the thin veil between human and the inhuman. Dark, yet inviting and familiar, Faith seeks to deliver chills with a sense of class, and sometimes a bit of heat. With each story, she hopes to build exposure for fellow women authors and artists who create horror.