Stacey – Hi, it’s great to have you here! Tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from?
K – Thanks for the interview offer! Alright, so, I’m Kayla, but I also go by K. Matt. I live in an extremely rural part of New York state. Yes, there’s a huge chunk of New York that’s NOT NYC. Sorry…I get a little salty about that. Anyway, I’m both a writer and an illustrator.
Stacey – When did you start writing?
K – I can’t remember exactly when I started writing, but I have been writing at least one of my characters for about…17 years or so, if memory serves.
Stacey – What genres do you write in and what drew you to them?
K – I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, and I enjoy writing them. The thought of writing things that take place in different worlds is a fun way to forget about reality for a while.
Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?
K. – Probably the fact that I get to create a different world, play with characters that aren’t entirely human…
Stacey – What scares you?
K – Probably the feeling that I’ll never amount to anything in my life. Ever.
Stacey – Where do you get your inspiration?
K – Just about anything can inspire me. My first book came from a dream I’d had, the antagonist of the first story arc was based around the villains you see in slasher films…I never know what will spark something.
Stacey – Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?
K – Oh, that’s a hard one…Stephen King’s one of them. I’ve also gotten some influence from J.K. Rowling, and various other sources that I’m trying to recall right now.
Stacey – What’s your writing process like?
K – It’s rare that I’ll plan anything in advance. I generally sit down and start writing when an idea won’t go away. I’ll write a little bit of it, before I’ll lose focus, do something else for a while, remember I should be writing… When I finish, I’ll wonder just how terrible it is. Leave it alone for a while, come back to it, realize it’s not as terrible as I thought…
Stacey – What was the first story you had published?
K – That would be Visions, which was inspired by a dream I had where I was one of my roleplay characters. The rest of the series is basically the aftermath of that.
Stacey – Do you have a favourite character from your own works?
K – That may be Travis. I love all of them, yes, but my monkey-human hybrid is probably my favorite.
Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?
K – There are a few books I haven’t finished. I’m trying to remember which ones, exactly, but it wasn’t for lack of interest. It was just that I got distracted and found myself focused on something else, eventually forgetting to return to my reading.
Stacey – What’s the last Horror movie/tv show you watched?
K – Last horror movie was Get Out; the last show was The Walking Dead.
Stacey – If you could go back in time who would you go back in time to see?
K – I probably shouldn’t go back in time, period, because I just know I’ll be that one idiot to screw up the timeline.
Stacey – What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?
K – Advice and critique are both beneficial, but don’t forget to listen to your own intuition.
Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?
From Deception, book 4 of the series:
My lungs feel like they’re about to explode, and the world around me is a haze of pain. At least the grass feels nice.
Less nice is the laughter from nearby.
“…Shut up, Travis…” I mutter.
“Dude, you’re gonna have to do way better than that,” he says.
He’s standing over me, a hand extended to help me to my feet. Travis has been putting me through an intensive training regimen lately, with the intention of helping me learn to better defend myself. For this session, I’ve found myself being flipped head over heels onto the ground. Beast was going to do it, originally. But her job comes first. And so, she’s asked Travis to step in for her.
The only real results it’s yielded have been soreness and a reluctance to leave the ground. I reach up to wave him away. Or pathetically flail my arm in an attempt to wave him away. One of those.
“No, leave me. The grass is my new domain,” I groan.
But he’s clearly not having any of it, pulling me upright. I wait for my arms to pop out of their sockets as he does so. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen.
“How about we go in for a drink?” he asks.
“Need me to shoulder you in there?”
“If you would…”
And so, with Travis’ support, we make our way into the house. My metal foot is creaking in a way it shouldn’t be. Maybe we should see about dialing back the intensity of our workouts a bit. I doubt my cybernetic leg was really built for this sort of activity, anyway. Let’s face it, I’m kind of a delicate person, myself, and the leg is a lightweight piece of technology.
I would not, of course, need the leg were it not for one Jesse Lynn Belle. She may be locked away in prison until her execution date, but she still haunts my nightmares. Thankfully, the nightmares have been few and far between since her arrest.
We reach the kitchen, and I pull myself onto one of the bar stools, prepared to rest my head on the bar itself and take a nap. But first, I’m hoping for some water.
A cold water bottle is set down near my head. I knew there was a reason I was friends with Travis. He knows me like no other sometimes. I push myself upright and open the bottle, chugging some of that beautifully cold liquid.
“Travis…would it be possible for us to go a bit less…intense with our workouts, do you think? I’m not sure my leg could hold up to it.”
He sits on the stool beside me, cracking open an iced tea.
“You know we’ve only been doing this on your days off. If you had more free time, we’d be able to spread this out.”
“But I’m exhausted…”
“I know, dude, I know. But you’d need to be able to defend yourself better. After the whole thing with that bitch Jesse, you’d be better off with it, y’know?”
I’d have gone for a gun were it not for his aversion to firearms. I don’t think Gemmy would be too pleased with it either, to tell the truth. My leg doesn’t have any weapons of any sort, not like Beast. Her limbs essentially are weapons. My wife has that enhanced speed that she rarely ever uses. Travis is gifted with a strong regenerative ability. Ivy has those psionic abilities of hers, and her sister is a magic user. I may be the only normal-ish human of my family. I mean, even Serena has the feline attributes and has forgotten more than I could ever hope to learn about robotics.
Though I do wonder what it would take to become, say, a magic user. It’s something I’ve only really started thinking about in the last two weeks. Not sure what brought these thoughts about, to be honest. I imagine that it would take great mental prowess. I would not admit to being a genius of any sort, but I have been able to pull myself through school to become a doctor. And not to brag, but I am quite good at my job. Never lost a patient yet.
Perhaps this idea has legs…
I take another sip of water.
“So… Trav? What do you think it’d take for someone to learn magic? Do you suppose they would have to be born with a certain spark? I know it’s not merely the realm of fantasy. We’ve both experienced the use of it firsthand, right?”
He chews on his bottom lip for a second or two, finger tapping the counter.
“True. But Yvette’s out on a job with Beast and Ivy, so it’s not like we can just ask her, y’know?”
I nod. What if we were to run a search online for ways to learn magic? Of course, I would need to deal with our ancient computer. I still have yet to upgrade that thing… And by “upgrade” I mean “replace entirely with a new model”. It’s approximately five operating systems behind, and the keyboard has that one key that continually pops out of place. The CD drive is a bust, and the display is just awful. I sometimes hear the hard drive clicking, and it’s slower than a snail trailing its way through a pool of molasses. Half of the USB ports only work about half of the time, and something seems to have chewed through the casing of the power cord.
Yes. I think we need a new one.
“Think Gemmy might know anything about it?” Travis asks me, propping himself up on the counter by his elbows.
I hadn’t considered her to be a possibility there. But perhaps…
“That is a possibility,” I reply. “But how does one ask their wife about that?”
“I dunno. Just come right out and ask?”
I sigh, trying to figure out how to word it. As I think, I hear the soft beep of the door unlocking. In walks Gemmy, our son strapped into the baby harness on her chest. She didn’t have any classes to worry about today, and so took Daniel to the park. I pull myself off of the bar stool to greet them, hearing the creaks and groans of my joints.
I’m only nearing 30. I should not be hearing these sounds from my body just yet. It makes it seem like I should have some gray hair (and given my previous experiences, I’m actually quite amazed that I don’t)
Thank you so much for your time, Kayla! If you would like to find out more about K. Matt, check out the links below.
Apex Magazine is an outlet which many love to read and many of you likely have submitted to. Unfortunately, the magazine is shutting down indefinitely. Here is what Jason Sizemore had to say about it on Apex’s Website:
Sleep now, Apex Magazine, you’ve earned it.
Where to begin?
Let’s jump into it. After much consideration, I’ve decided that Apex Magazine will go on an indefinite hiatus. Our last new issue will be 120–the Afrofuturism issue guest edited by Maurice Broaddus. It’s filled with incredible, diverse work and a fitting sendoff for our zine.
Why stop now?
The last few months have been difficult for me both mentally and physically. This leads to soul searching. And that leads to life decisions. One thing that became obvious to me is that I was neglecting both myself and the book side of Apex. I need to take time to exercise, take some time for my health, do more things for fun, enjoy having my kids around before they leave for college in a few years. I need time to read more books! And on the book side of Apex, I had been failing to do the minimum for success because so much of my time was being poured into Apex Magazine. The magazine flourished, while the books languished.
A flourishing magazine is a great thing, but the profit ceiling for an online zine is disturbingly low. One small press book that does really well (like, for example, Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt) will make 25 times the profit of the zine in a year.
It comes down to health and economics and family. Like most decisions in life.
But I want to celebrate what we’ve accomplished with Apex Magazine. 120. That many issues represents exactly ten years of Apex Magazine. Over the course of that time, we’ve published a mind-blowing collection of short fiction, nonfiction, and interviews. Our work has won and/or been nominated for most of the major awards: Hugo, Nebula, Stoker, World Fantasy, and Locus. And I think we’ve also published many important genre stories: “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky, “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix Harrow, “The Green Book” by Amal El-Mohtar, “Armless Maidens of the American West” by Genevieve Valentine, “The Performance Artist” by Lettie Prell, “Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon … I could go on, but at some point it becomes bragging and nobody wants that.
During our ten years, I had the opportunity to publish some of my favorite writers: Jeff VanderMeer, Cherie Priest, Jacqueline Carey, Walter Mosley, Mary Robinette Kowal, Nick Mamatas, Rich Larson, Theodora Goss, and so many others.
I’ve had a fine trio of former editor-in-chiefs who have played a huge role in the success of the zine: Catherynne M. Valente, Lynne Thomas, and Sigrid Ellis. Thank you for your hard work.
In the early years, it was Maggie Slater and Gill Ainsworth who were my right hand ladies. Now it is Lesley Conner and Jane Clark. I owe them so much.
And a reminder … this is an extended hiatus, not a permanent closure. I’m a man of whims, unfortunately. After I ended Apex Digest, it was two years later that I decided I wanted to do Apex Magazine. In two years, if Apex Book Company is going strong, don’t be surprised if I have the itch to reopen the zine.
On to some housekeeping:
- All stories submitted via Moksha will be released back to you. You’re free to submit them elsewhere, of course.
- All contracted stories will be released back to the authors, including all rights. You’ll be paid your kill fee of 30% down the road when life is less crazy.
- The website will remain alive. There are simply too many good stories to lose to digital dust. If an author wishes for us to remove a story, email me and it will be done.
- Lesley Conner and I have not turned our backs on genre short fiction. We plan to do an open call anthology each year that will contain nearly as many words of short fiction as a whole year’s worth of zines. Keep your eyes open for our next project.
I love the genre community. Your support for the magazine has meant a lot to me over the years. Now I ask that you throw your support behind the book side of Apex (http://www.apexbookcompany.com). It’s where I’ll be for awhile.
Interesting news from TOR which you will likely want to follow!
Tom Doherty Associates (TDA) President and Publisher Fritz Foy announced today the creation of NIGHTFIRE, a new horror imprint that will join Tor, Forge, Tor Teen & Starscape, and Tor.com Publishing as part of Tom Doherty Associates.
Foy will be Publisher, and TDA will add dedicated staff in editorial, as well as supplemental staff in marketing and publicity. Under the Nightfire imprint, editors will acquire and publish across the breadth of the genre—from short story collections to novellas and novels, from standalone works to series, from dark fantasy to the supernatural, from originals to reprints of lost modern classics. In addition to publishing books across all formats (print, audio, and ebook), Nightfire’s releases will also include podcasts, graphic novels, and other media.
Of the new imprint, Foy remarked, “There is a renaissance in progress for all things horror. There is a new generation of horror fans who are setting weekend genre box office records, who are binge streaming episodic TV, subscribing to weekly chat and drama-based podcasts, and purchasing more graphic novels. More importantly, there are new literary voices we want to bring to our reading communities and followers…And also because we just plain love horror.”
The first publication is planned for early 2021.
About Tom Doherty Associates (TDA):
Tom Doherty Associates (TDA)—better known by its imprint Tor Books—is a New York-based publisher of hardcover, trade softcover, and mass-market books founded in 1980. Imprints include Tor Books, one of the leading publishers in science fiction, fantasy, and horror since 1980; Forge Books, committed to publishing quality thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction, and general fiction; Tor Teen and Starscape, dedicated to publishing quality science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary fiction for young readers; and Tor.com Publishing, which publishes original fiction, art, and commentary on fantasy, science fiction, and related subjects across all media by a wide range of writers from all corners of the field.
Ruschelle: We’re glad to have you here at the Horror Tree. Make yourself comfortable. Have a freshly baked scone. I baked them with love-and a little bone and sinew. It makes for a fluffier scone and gets rid of those pesky neighbors.
Lydia: I am a huge fan of bone and sinew, so I am sure this goes better with coffee than neighbours ever could. Thank you!
Ruschelle: When did you first realize you were a dark and scary gal rather than one of the bright and shiny variety?
Lydia: Maybe when I was three and realized not many other kids liked spending time tending cemeteries, pressing flowers, and investigating roadkill. Other people had far more children’s books than we did too, having grown up with more Edgar Allan Poe and Washington Irving lining the shelves than Berenstain Bears.
Ruschelle: You host a creepy podcast called Dead Air where you discuss horror films. Tell us a little about the method to your madness. How do you choose the movies when there are so many fantastic beasts to pick apart?
Lydia: It is deceptively easy when my co-host, Wes ‘Dead Air’ Knipe is a deep mine of the darkest horror lore, and not a production meeting goes by without us adding a few more gems to our list of to-watch titles. We try to pick things we love, that the other hasn’t seen, and sometimes try to unearth a theme while we go. Some are surprised that our show is unscripted, but we do just banter naturally.
Ruschelle: List your top 5 films all horror buffs should watch and kindly explain why.
Lydia: It is a terrible task to attempt to choose horror films or books for another. I’ll list some for the sake of curiosity, while knowing full well there is a different kind of fan out there for every colour of the horror rainbow. Halloween and Halloween II sit together as one that I feel really sum up the genre in a lot of ways with excellent writing and filmmaking. Pieces will appease the fan of old grainy slashers, and Terrifier will bring that to the 21st century. Hell House occupies a space for me as a film and book that equally terrorized my teenage mind and hold a lot of gothic charm under it’s cursed roof. Hellraiser has to be in there since it has been such a delightful vision for me, for so many others, and continues to be.
Ruschelle: As a Horror Writer Association member, you have been knighted (just roll with me here) with the awe-inspiring responsibility of updating their ‘new releases’ website! Is this just one of the many benefits of being a HWA member?
Lydia: As with any good writers association, group or affiliation, it can be pretty much what you want it to be! As a casual meeting place, a formal representative, a networking hub, the HWA does excel and continues to expand and experiment with ways to serve authors. From my point of view, as cliche as it sounds, you get out of it what you put in to it. I was a member for a couple years before volunteering to keep the new releases updated, and I have loved it every month for something like four years now!
Ruschelle: You are a short stories girl and novelist. Most writers aspire to be novelists, unlike myself who is a champion of the short and sweet. Okay, I honestly don’t have the attention span for a novel—or much of anything—
…eggs, milk, squeaky toy for pups, new recreational axe with self cleaning blade…
OOPS, sorry! Grocery list. See what I mean about attention span?
What do you find is the most difficult while crafting a novel compared to shorter works?
Lydia: Keeping motivated. There is something magical about having an idea, grinding out a draft, polishing a draft, then having a brain-child of a short story ready for the world in as little as a day or month. The long haul that is a novel can deflate me. If I could approach my novels with as much energy as I do short stories, there would be more than one published by now.
Ruschelle: Speaking of novels, your offering, Nightface is a fantastic vampire tale. Which vampires and their mythos did you find your inspiration?
Lydia: There is a little of every vampire I’ve ever met in Gunnar and Solomon, who feature in Nightface. There are also non-vampire inspirations like the most visceral fight scenes in film, occultists of centuries passed, and medical experimentation. The quieter vampires of Anne Rice made a big impact, and even more so did the worldbuilding of Vampire: The Masquerade in the mid-90s when White Wolf had such wonderful guides for live-action role-playing, specifically the Brujah clan.
Ruschelle: You have a sequel to Nightface being birthed. Will you give us a little nibble of where the story begins…or will you have to kill us if you give us the skinny?
Lydia: If only video existed of the night I read the first chapter at the ChiSeries night in Ottawa! There were about ninety very intrigued and slightly disturbed friends and fans there to hear it. The book begins at the end of Black River Road in the field surrounding an abandoned estate featured in Nightface. The working title has changed a few times, but the final title is now Nightface: Elders. Some people have asked if certain characters come back, and I’d have to say everyone comes back… in one way or another.
Ruschelle: If you could be turned into any blood-thirsty or modernly vegan creature, what would it be and why?
Lydia: It may be out of the horror universe proper, but once of the Radley family from Matt Haig’s book would be an interesting life that can pass for human. Truly, I’m already not far off the Jarmusch vampires, with the obvious exception of committing murder. There is something to be said for a perfect and near-rare cut of meat so I’d not compromise there, given the choice.
Ruschelle: You have been featured in quite a few anthologies. Do you find you enjoy the challenge of writing for a specific submission or do you dig through the bones of your un-homed ‘children’ and see if one might fit into a certain theme? Hey, we all want our children to fit in.
Lydia: Being that kid that never fit in, I think I have my own elegant solution to that – even if it ends up being a little backward. I’ve written for submission calls and really enjoy the ‘writing prompt’ that serves. As anyone, I either don’t make the cut or don’t make the deadline in many cases. Instead of trying to home the story elsewhere, I’ll keep it for use in Pray Lied Eve. That is, unless a really suitable home can be found. Sometimes I am just moved to write a piece. In that case I’ll submit to a few editors I love to work with already or to a few I aspire to be published by. Some of those end up on the cutting room floor too, but I do have fairly good success finding homes for my work so far.
Ruschelle: Pray Lied Eve both 1 and 2 are collections of stories that you have meticulously sewn together, enchanted and made dance for our entertainment. What piece of you went into each offering?
Lydia: To avoid a long answer detailing each entry, I’d have to say almost all of them are based on a place that exists, a person who did exist, or a thing that happened. In Shrinking Dwell, from Pray Lied Eve a man encounters large ice balls falling from the sky with no explanation. In about 2010 a friend of mine experienced just that, and I was there to see one fall. It was fascinating! More recently, in Pray Lied Eve 2, I wrote about my ancestors belongings in As Is, Where Is. So, there are many pieces of me in each one – more than in my novels for certain. Fitting, as the title of the collection is an anagram of my name.
Ruschelle: Do you have Pray Lied Eve 3 somewhere tied up in your dark, cozy basement waiting to be unleashed to scare the masses? Please say, yes!
Lydia: Prayers answered, yes, there is a Pray Lied Eve 3 around the corner. A faraway corner, and perhaps around another yet; the cover art has been planned at the very least.
Ruschelle: As I was stalking you for the interview (and because a girl needs a hobby. How else does an antisocial beyotch get to know people?) I came across some exquisite wedding photos slathered in gothic charm. Some little girls dream of Cinderella weddings but we horror-lovers want for more of the Maleficent-esque wedding. So, give us the your awesomely dark wedding deets!
Lydia: Not much to relay, as it was a very quiet and private wedding as we would prefer. The most interesting part for fans of the macabre would be that yes, we were married in a haunted jail. Yes, we tied the knot at the gallows. Certainly, we relayed our vows on death row. It was a wonderful day all around! The photographer, John Wenzel, had never shot a wedding before and never wanted to but had indeed shot some of the most striking goth, cyberbunk, and zombie-walk images in town so we were very pleased he said yes!
Ruschelle: Writing can sometimes be…uncomfortable. Do you find there are themes or particular scenes that are tougher to write than others? Personally, I can murder a person a thousand different ways and giggle as I do it, but pen a sex scene—UGH! Erectile dysfunction of the brain!
Lydia: That is an affliction I gladly suffer from as well. I can’t see me writing a sex scene ever, and I had a tough time writing a romance story for an invite anthology, Allucinor: The Element of Romance where genre authors were asked to write something outside of their wheelhouse. Fight scenes give me trouble but only because I strive for believable action. This probably comes from my creative jealousy after seeing films like The Raid: Redemption and other brilliant fight films. Always feel like I’ve bit off more than I can chew writing fight scenes.
Ruschelle: As a writer, do you find yourself reading other authors critically? Do you pick apart a scene or edit sentence structure? Or are you able to just enjoy the journey?
Lydia: Usually I can read recreationally just fine, but the red-pen part of my brain clicks on from time to time unbidden. Oddly, while reading very tightly written and edited work. The last time I found myself picking apart a work was reading something by Joe Hill. The best cure for that I’ve found is to close the book and go write or edit something of my own or do a review.
Ruschelle: What is your favorite vampire ‘type’: the ugly Nosferatu, the charming Count Dracula or the Mariah Cary of blood-suckers, Edward Cullin? Glitter, get it? I’ll shut up now.
Lydia: I’d have to say The Lost Boys hold a lot of charm for me, but in a more feral, less 80s fashion. There is something about the fringes of society that is already scary to a lot of people, so take those leather jackets and motorcycles and add fangs to get a great start for a vampire. I haven’t read any of the Twilight novels but being aware of them by osmosis, I’ll take a Count Orlok any day!
Ruschelle: You’re an avid photographer as well. What are some of your favorite subjects to shoot? Please share a few pix as well, we’d love to see your work.
Lydia: I’ve shot portraits and bands, flowers and foods but my all time favourite thing was the Zombie Walk. It was an event that became too large and too commercial as years went by, but when I was writing for the fantastic Ottawa Horror, I made a point of posting photos every year. The most fun year was 2014, but likely because it was warmer than most and there was no snow. So that is really the best eye-candy for horror fans. Some select photos are on my portfolio too!
Ruschelle: Thank you so much for chatting with us here at the Horror Tree. It was a pleasure stalking you. So…what’s bubbling in that beautiful cauldron of yours? What can your new-found fan look forward to from you? And how are they able to stalk you?
Lydia: The best spot is likely lydiapeever.ca – if I post a youtube video, an instagram photo, have a new podcast up or new writing, it all ends up there guaranteed. There is a newsletter sign up as well, if one only wants to see writing related happenings. But really, it is all kind of horror related! The biggest writing projects right now are a short story for an invite anthology I can’t name at the moment, and of course Nightface: Elders. There is one more that is not writing as much as working with a very accomplished and hero of a writer as script editor. the Internet Movie Database has an entry on that for those that want to sleuth it out. I honestly can’t say whether the novel or Pray Lied Eve 3 will be out next, so it will be a surprise for all of us to see which wins! Thank you so much for the chat today!