The Infamous Premiere of the “Spooky Six with Willow Croft”!
Welcome to the debut of Willow Croft’s “Spooky Six” author interviews! Kicking off the premiere is Victoria Audley! Come into the parlor, have a cup of tea, and get cozy while we delve into all things spooky!
Victoria Audley is a folklorist, museum educator, and ghost escaped from a gothic novel, currently haunting the northern English seaside. In her spare time, she befriends the local crows and plays too much D&D. You can find her at https://bio.link/vcaudley, and her books on Ko-fi and Blurb.
Willow Croft: “Hey, look at that derelict Victorian mansion…let’s go explore it!” What’s the most unusual setting you’ve read about in a horror/thriller book, or included in your own creative works?
Victoria Audley: It’s hard to think of what counts as unusual; I really think horror lurks in every situation and setting! “Chrysanthemum,” the story I wrote for Ghost Orchid Press’s Chlorophobia anthology, was set in a garden and inspired by Victorian flower language, which I think is perhaps unusual if you suddenly forget Little Shop of Horrors exists.
Willow Croft: “It was a dark and stormy night…” What are your go-to comfort foods, drinks, or other ways to wind down after a long day (or night) of writing?
Victoria Audley: I love a nice strong red wine, preferably a Malbec. I often wind down with video games; while writing Crown of Ivy I played a lot of Hades, and lately I’m in another run through the Mass Effect trilogy, though I’m thinking about re-playing Death’s Door.
Willow Croft: “Did you hear that noise?” Everyone, even us horror writers, have our night terrors. What is it that frightens you the most?
Victoria Audley: Haunted or creepy dolls. Absolutely can’t do them at all. Once I was on Tower of Terror at Walt Disney World, and we got stuck at the bottom of the shaft—on the ground, thankfully, but for some reason they couldn’t get us to the exit door for about 20 minutes. I was sitting in the back corner right next to a ventriloquist dummy on the other side of the metal grate and I had to shut my eyes tight to keep my gaze from drifting over to it, expecting it to turn its head and look back at me.
Willow Croft: “I’m sure it was nothing. But I’ll just go outside and check, anyway. Alone. With no weapons.” Have you ever gotten writers’ block? If so, how do you combat it? Do you have certain rituals or practices that help get you into the writing (or creating) mindset?
Victoria Audley: The only thing that really cures writers’ block for me is time. I just have to spend time watching movies, reading, or taking a walk down to the beach—refilling the creative meter by experiencing things rather than trying to create. My favourite trick of getting into the writing headspace is scents: burning a scented candle or melting scented wax, and associating the scent with a particular project. Writing my current WIP, I stuck with a ginger and lily scented wax, and now as I’m editing I can still smell it as I read.
Willow Croft: “Don’t go into the basement!” Are you an impulsive pantser or a plotter with outlines galore? What other writing/industry advice would you share with your fellow writers & creators?
Victoria Audley: I’m such a plotter it borders on concerning. I love the research and preparation phases of writing—likely a by-product of working in museums. My notes are extensive and organised, and I usually go through two or three outlines before I start writing. Advice is a tricky thing, because there’s very little that works for absolutely everyone; I suppose my advice would be to know what works for you, and be confident in discarding advice that doesn’t suit you. But the one thing I do think everyone needs to at least try to embrace is a bad first draft. I used to be so bad about editing as I went, which is why the first draft of Gleam took me two years to write. Letting my writing be bad and trusting myself to make it good later has genuinely made my writing so much easier and better.
Willow Croft: “Ring ring!” It’s the middle of the night and the phone mysteriously rings. Which notable writer, or person from history, would be on the other end of the line?
Victoria Audley: I would love it to be Madame d’Aulnoy, the French countess who originated the term ‘contes de fées,’ or ‘fairytales.’ She attempted to orchestrate two murders, possibly served as a spy, and formed a group of women writers who wrote and shared fairytales. In her day, she was more popular than Perrault, and for my money, her stories are better. Very probably the coolest woman in late 17th century France, would absolutely love to bend her ear about her tales.
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“Bringer of Nightmares and Storms.” Horror writer Willow Croft is usually lurking deep in the shadows of her writer cave, surrounded by formerly feral (but still fierce!) cats for company. Visit her here: http://willowcroft.blog, or check out her other services here: https://kirsten-lee-barger.mailchimpsites.com/.