An interview with Lily Luchesi - Women in Horror Month
Lily Luchesi is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of the Paranormal Detectives Series. I am delighted to have her here today, celebrating Women in Horror Month.
An interview with Lily Luchesi
How would you describe your brand of horror?
My brand of horror is described as “horror with heart”. I delve into urban fantasy, YA, and dark fantasy, but all of it has a horror element to it. I always believed that merely being scary for fear’s sake was the wrong way to go about horror. My favorite horror novels and shows scared me even more because, in between the bloodshed and torment, there was a lot of emotion. It always makes it even worse when you put a loved character in a bad situation. I think the good helps magnify the bad.
Why do you write horror?
I really don’t know if I have an answer for this one. I have been obsessed with all things creepy since I was a toddler, with no real reason for why it appealed to me. My grandmother’s favorite actor was Vincent Price. My mother loves The Munsters and The Addams Family. The love of it was already in my blood.
Also, I think that being scared is the biggest adrenaline rush you can get. It is not easy to be able to frighten people with words alone, and it’s a challenge with each book I write to add a new element of eeriness to the story, a new way to give the reader goosebumps.
Who, in the horror genre, inspires you?
I know this is a month for women, but my biggest inspirations in horror are Edgar Allan Poe, Darren Shan, and Stephen King. I read many, many other authors when I was a kid, but those three were the only ones who managed to actually scare me. And they didn’t just scare me with a talking bird, demons in the closet, or a blood-covered teenager. They scared me with the little things, things you might not expect. I mean, I can’t look at a monkey with cymbals anymore thanks to King. The ability to take the mundane and make it fearsome is an amazing skill.
What’s the favourite comment you’ve received in a review?
In Soul Syndicate, which I co-wrote with Faith Marlow, we were told that the book was reminiscent of early Dean Koontz. And in my book Stake-Out, another reader said I could be the next Stephen King.
But my favorite review came (also from Stake-Out) early on, when a blog praised Angelica Cross, my female MC in The Paranormal Detectives Series. As a woman, I wanted to see more female MCs in horror who kicked ass. Especially those written by women. So when I was writing Angelica, I wanted to write the character I wished to read about myself. Knowing that readers love her just as much as I do warms my heart. (Especially since her murderous tendencies make her hard to like haha.)
Which works by female film-makers and/or authors will you be reading/watching this February?
I’ll definitely be reading Carmilla Voiez, Faith Marlow, A.D. Wayne, SK Gregory, to name a few. Watching … I am not sure. I haven’t planned that far! I know I will be watching the seasons of Supernatural written by Sera Gamble.
Who is your favourite woman in horror?
Creator or character? Lily Munster and Morticia Addams are big influences for me as a person. Strong, independent women unafraid to be who they are, even if who they are frightens others, or others hate them because they don’t understand them.
There’s such beauty in the unknown, as well as beauty in the visible darkness. Normal people don’t understand, but Lily and Morticia never cared about being understood.
Why do you think women are attracted to the horror genre?
I can’t say for sure, but some of it is probably
stemmed from centuries of patriarchal oppression.
Women have had pink, frills, love, and delicacy shoved
down our throats since time out of mind. Horror is the
opposite of everything we were told we should be.
It’s dark, it’s creepy, it’s violent, it’s very in your face.
Horror is unapologetic and unsettling. I think it
appeals to women for those reasons.
Plus, what woman hasn’t dreamed of killing someone
with their minds, or even with a chainsaw?
Would you be a villain, victim or hero in a horror
Good question. I can see myself as a hero or villain. I
guess it depends on the plot. Demons? I’d probably be
the hero, as I have banished them before in real life.
Vampires? I would most definitely be Elizabeth
Who is your favourite female villain?
I love villains who aren’t truly evil. Annie Wilkes was mentally ill, Carrie White was severely abused. However, if we are going for “evil for evil’s sake”, by far I adore Akasha, from Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned. Loved the movie version, too. She is ancient, powerful, beautiful, and fearsome. What more could a girl want?
What’s your least favourite horror trope?
Women and POC die first. That, and anyone having sex dies. That always reminded me of latent Catholic guilt. “You are having sex before marriage, you must be punished.” Maybe I’m wrong, but that never sat well with me.
Do you believe in the supernatural?
Oh yes. I am a witch, and my whole family has been, tracing back to Sicily in the 1700s and most likely earlier. I can see and hear spirits, and have banished demons before. Others don’t believe me and that’s fine, but I know spirits are among us. My family gets visited by deceased loved ones.
Have you had any spooky real life experiences you’re willing to share?
There have been many. One that stands out is an encounter with one of the Shadow People. It lived in the same building my family did, and it became what it was because, when it was alive, it was a man who killed his girlfriend (her ghost was still next door, too), and then shot his own face off. It was at least seven feet tall with a fedora and no face at all, just a gaping black maw. Others in the building saw it, too.
Monsters and Horror Heroes. Who would you snog, kill, and marry?
Snog Norman Bates, kill the Wolfman, marry Dracula.
What apocalyptic event will you survive and how?
I think I would survive an alien invasion. I’m good at negotiating and can assist them in their takeover if it means I survive.
Tell us briefly about your work in progress.
My current WIP is called Vampire Blood and Iron Bullets. It’s a UF/horror mashup I’ve been working on for over a year and it’s finally ready to release in May. I love putting horror characters, in this case a vampire, in modern times and letting them loose.
The plot follows said vampire as she tries to protect an arrogant Fae from being hunted and killed. There’s a bit of romance and, as my readers have come to expect, a lot of murder.
Share the opening of one of the stories you’ve had published.
This is from book four of The Coven Series, The Coven History. This series is horror fantasy and suitable for ages 12 and up.
There are moments in every teenage girl’s life they will remember forever: their first kiss, their first breakup, the first time they cast a spell. Not every moment is pleasant, but they all leave an indelible mark on their soul for the rest of their lives.
Some of those marks are actually scars. Because the moments that will shape a girl for the rest of her life are often painful and they cut deep as a blade.
Nineteen-year-old Coven Princess Harley Sinclair would remember this day as the one that gave her the deepest scar of all.
She had been celebrating the birthday of her younger half-brother, Nick Smith. Nick had just been given a motorcycle by Caelum Lynx, Harley’s boyfriend and Nick’s self-appointed godfather. Nick’s boyfriend, Roger Ainsley, was not having it.
“No way. I don’t want my boyfriend to become roadkill!” he insisted.
Harley chuckled as Nick practically danced around the bike. “It’s not that bad.”
“When have you been on one?” Nick asked.
“With Caelum.” She gestured to the shifter in question. He came behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist. Her heart double beat, knowing that none of them had known about the two of them. Now they would, and she was torn between pride and nervousness.
“If your dour cousin says a motorcycle is okay, then you can believe it,” Caelum said to Roger. He kissed Harley’s neck and she melted into the touch.
Nick was staring, wide-eyed. His mouth opened, closed, and opened again, but nothing came out.
Roger nudged him. “Stop it. You look like a cod fish.”
“But you hate him!” Nick cried.
“There’s a fine line between love and hate, brother dear,” Harley replied, turning to kiss Caelum full on the lips.
“Speaking of hating me,” Caelum said when he pulled away, “where’s your dad?”
Harley’s father, Salem Sinclair, was the Coven King. He ran the entire UK Coven single handedly and had for nearly four years.
Harley was about to reply when she heard her name being called.
Mrs. Donahue was running toward her, her steel-coloured hair blowing out of its pristine bun.
“Harley, oh dear! You need to come. Now. Something’s wrong.” Mrs. Frieda Donahue was eighty-five if she was a day, and was a high-ranking Coven Elder.
“What is it?” she asked. “Mrs. Donahue, please calm down. What’s the matter?”
“It’s Salem. He’s ill.” She clutched at her high frilly collar. “I was just in to pick up some papers he needed me to file and he was at his desk … in a swoon.”
Harley felt like all the feeling had gone out of her body and if Caelum had not been holding her, she would have hit the floor.
“He did wake, Madam Maysa is with him now,” Donahue continued.
Maysa was an official Medic, trained in medicinal magic. She was almost as old as Donahue.
“What’s wrong with him?” Caelum asked, seeing that Harley wasn’t able to speak at the moment.
Donahue shook her head. “All I know is he was feverish and coughing. Miss Sinclair, you might want to—”
“I know,” Harley said, her voice rougher than she had intended. She moved away from Caelum’s warm embrace and dashed toward the castle, her heart thumping in her throat.
A little more than a year ago, Harley had found her father bloody and poisoned, mostly dead thanks to a Dark wizard named Robert Mor Munro. She had managed to create a cure for him, but it had been the most frightening moment of her life. Until now.
Magicians were immune to most human maladies, and she didn’t know of any magical illness that could have caused fever and coughing, save for Pixie Pox. And that was a disease that only affected children. Her father was already immune to it. So, what was this?
It was no secret that the Sinclairs were disliked in the Coven. That summer, a necromancer had waged war on them, and it had nearly destroyed the Coven. What if someone had poisoned him?
What three pieces of advice would you offer anyone wanting to create horror?
1. Don’t pander to the grotesque and torturous for shock value. Rape is not horror. Animal and child abuse is not horror and should not be used for shock value. If you choose to include any of these elements, make them enhance/advance the story. Don’t objectify such horrific crimes just to make readers cringe.
2. Be bold. Tell stories you want to tell and don’t care who is against it. I have LGBT+ and POC leads in all my books and I have gotten a few negative reviews. But you cannot be afraid to tell YOUR story, whatever that may be and whoever that ay include.
3. Get weird. Don’t be afraid to twist reality and bring out strangeness from the chaos. The real world is full of horrors right now, so you can’t be afraid to take that horrific reality and twist it into a brand new story that will terrify readers for generations to come.
Lily Luchesi is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of the Paranormal Detectives Series.
Her young adult Coven Series has successfully topped Amazon's Hot New Releases list consecutively.
She is also the co-owner of Partners in Crime Book Services, where she offers a myriad of services alongside her business partner Annie Smith, including editing.
She was born in Chicago, Illinois, where many of her stories are set. Ever since she was a toddler, her mother noticed her tendency for being interested in all things "dark". At two she became infatuated with vampires and ghosts, and that infatuation turned into a lifestyle. She is also and out member of the LGBT+ community. When she's not writing, she's going to rock concerts, getting tattooed, watching the CW, or reading comics. And drinking copious amounts of coffee.
She also writes contemporary books for adults as Samantha Calcott.
Where to find Lily on social media -