An Interview with Willow Croft, “Bringer of Nightmares & Storms”
Interview with Willow Croft “Bringer of Nightmares & Storms”
By Angelique Fawns
Willow Croft can spin a delightfully devilish short story, and is a self-professed animal nut. Croft and I both had stories published in the most recent issue of Econoclash Review. The world of gritty pulp fiction tends to attract male authors, but as more and more of us women add our poison pens to the craft, it will be interesting to see how the genre will evolve. Though Willow and I live in completely different parts of the world, I am amazed by how much we have in common (she has actually met one of my number one musical idols!- more on this in the actual interview.)
Willow had some profound insights into the power of writing as a life raft, and how she finds inspiration in the act of creation. Even if she is creating words that echo in the realms of horror….
AF: Why do you call yourself the “Bringer of Nightmares & Storms?”
WC: I grew up in Florida, and we have lots of storms and inclement weather. One of my earliest memories from my childhood (I think I was maybe a toddler) and I was outside and the sky became overcast and I felt part of the deep greening and the wind and the storm all at once. It was a strange but wonderful experience. Ever since then, I love being out in storms. Flooding in the streets, winds so high you can barely keep your footing, things like that. I probably should have been a storm chaser. And Twister is one of my all-time favourite movies. Except, of course, I feel so bad for the cows. Even if they are digital. I just added on the nightmares, because I seem to always end up writing horror-ish stories.
AF: Twister is also one of my favourite movies. The true star of that movie was the wind itself. What sort of writing do you like to focus on?
WC: Well, for fiction, I suppose it’s horror. But I love stories and literature that gives plants and animals agency. One of my favourites (which I need to find again, after I lost the book in a basement flood, I think) is titled The Roots of Evil: Weird Stories of Supernatural Plants by Michel Parry.
AF: My last few stories starred an iguana, a chicken, and a macaw, so I love the idea of animals having power. Tell me about your multiverse.
WC: My multiverse aka alternate/parallel dimensions are so, so essential to my writing and my creativity. They’ve appeared through waking dreams, through sleeping dreams, and déjà vu moments. It becomes a magical, but thoroughly imagined and fictional world that nurtures my creativity. If it was a world made “real” it wouldn’t be as magical and immersive. Although, just once, the multiverse paralleled with a chance meeting in real life. Talk about spooky–when I met the person, the meeting had the same more-than energy I felt when listening to their songs. This energy was felt, not only by me, but by the crowd around me jostling me to get to the front, where the singer/musician was, and then they suddenly stopped. When I looked around, the crowd had backed off, and was in a half circle around me, and the expression on the crowd’s faces reflected the energy I was feeling. Everything went soft and fog-like and the sound even dimmed. It was like we had all been transported to another time and place, and yet, we were still in this world. What do you do with that experience? When something that was simply and indulgently poetic, romantic, dreamlike imagining had become real? I don’t know, but that will be one concert I won’t forget; the concert, and the individual(s) I met. (The concert was The Cure’s Wild Mood Swings—and the other band member I met was really nice and considerate, too.)
AF: You met Robert Smith? He was my number one crush when I was in grade 10! That’s a phenomenal story! What has been your most successful avenue for your writing?
WC: Well, it’s going to be a bit of a heavy answer. The most successful avenues is—all of them! All the short story anthologies and journals and newspapers and magazines that have been so amazing to include me in their publications, and even when they don’t, it’s helpful, because I see what might not be working with my writing. Also, back when I really started writing, I was pretty rock bottom at an already rock bottom life and in jobs and things, and writing and getting accepted made me feel like I had a purpose. Like I had a voice and a place in the world. I would say it was a light in the darkness, except I like the darkness; so, maybe more like a port in the storm. And, you know, I work hard at it. It’s not an easy job, as you probably know. I try to write one story every day. Then I put it aside until a later time, make notes and changes to it, then I review it, and rewrite it, once more before I send it out. Usually the day after I wrote the story. Then the writer’s eternity loop begins all over again.
AF: I lost myself in books growing up, if you don’t like the current world, escape to another. Can you tell me about your marketing strategies for all your writing avenues?
WC: Well, I’ve read huge amounts of industry articles and I have file folders filled with the ones I printed out, and I also read Writer’s Magazine and Writer’s Digest (and Horror Tree, of course!) regularly. Still, after all this research, my strategy is pretty organic, especially after reading Peter Derk’s essay titled “Writers Don’t Need Social Media,” which just gave me permission to narrow my focus on social media. I love my blog, and the blogs I read and follow–many of which we’ve followed each other for years, now. I followed up that essay (https://litreactor.com/columns/writers-dont-need-social-media) Peter Derk’s reading recommendation, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now https://www.amazon.com/Arguments-Deleting-Social-Media-Accounts/dp/125019668X. I read blogs, I comment on them, I try to read other authors’ books when budget allows, and I love Goodreads. I could spend hours on there. I wish I had enough time and money to join in the book reads for the groups I’m a silent part of.
I sometimes guest blog at a cat blog called Katzenworld (https://katzenworld.co.uk/). And I’m open to doing great interviews like this one. And I do my own “Five Things Friday” interviews with other authors (https://willowcroft.blog/2021/02/19/five-things-friday-interview-with-author-angelique-fawns/). I also write posts here at Horror Tree that provide “writing inspiration” tarot card readings for writers!
I’ve recently added doing brief, get-to-know-you author interviews on my blog. That’s been a lot of fun!
AF: I remember your article on Tarot Cards. I loved it. https://horrortree.com/wihm-using-tarot-cards-for-writing-inspiration/ Also, thank you for featuring me on your blog. It was fun. It was through that interview we found out we are both animal fanatics. How does your love of animals influence your writing?
WC: I’m always rescuing animals, and I’ve worked in both animal shelters and in a wildlife rehabilitation center in the past. I’m good with cats and socialising them, and my current cats were former ferals that I socialised. I also seem to be a wildlife BFF–skunks and chipmunks in particular. I don’t have much fear of wildlife, and I love insects, bugs, and arachnids, etc. I sometimes even get inspiration from the Entomology Today blog, especially from blogs titled “Funeral or Feast: How Termites Manage Their Dead” (https://entomologytoday.org/2021/02/17/funeral-feast-how-termites-manage-dead/) and Dom’s Wild Things back when I had cable.
AF: I have a few rescues myself, and think spiders are pretty neat creatures. What does the future hold for Willow Croft?
WC: You mean, aside from seeing mandatory spay/neuter programs being implemented here in the U.S., or witnessing a successful and total elimination of illegal Totoaba fishing? Well, other than the “real-life horror” consequences from the lack of both of those, I’m in the early stages of outlining a fictional horror manuscript, and still hoping to get my middle grade fiction manuscript published. But what I hope most to have in my future is a place of my own. It’s not the house so much (home ownership fills me with horror and dread, speaking of) but a place where I can have lots of rescued older cats and rescued nature that I would return to its wilding state.