The Spooky Six Celebrates WIHM with Willow Croft and T.L. Bodine!
For this Spooky Six interview, we’re sharing a dish of chile rellenos topped with New Mexico green chile!
(The Spooky Six interviews for the month of March will pay tribute to WIHM–Women In Horror Month!)
T.L. Bodine is a horror author living and working near Albuquerque, NM. A copywriter by day and fly-by-night novelist, she’s mostly interested in uncanny, fantastic things, and the way real people with real problems interact with them.
She has written two books of a trilogy about self-aware zombies struggling against a government that would strip them of their rights and a pharmaceutical company that wants to use them for its own ends. The first, River of Souls, was released by Trepidatio Publishing in 2019. That was followed up by House of Lazarus, and the proposed third book in the trilogy, Cage of Bones, is currently underway.
She’s also best-known on the internet for her work on Wattpad, and as the winner of the TNT Horror Contest, the largest writing contest hosted by the site. Her Watty-winning novel The Hound has been optioned for film, with an adaptation written by Angela LaManna of The Punisher and The Haunting of Bly Manor.
Bodine’s newest novel, Neverest, is a supernatural thriller set on the body-strewn slopes of Mount Everest. Appealing to fans of Ronald Malfi, Sarah Lotz, and Caitlin Starling, Neverest weaves a tale of grief, obsession, and the danger of conquest. It comes out April 25, 2023, from Ghost Orchid Press.
T.L. Bodine is an avid horror movie fan and frequently blogs about films on Tumblr. She also releases a monthly newsletter on Substack featuring deep dives and analysis on a breadth of horror topics, all voted on by her Patreon supporters. Patrons also have access to behind-the-scenes updates about her work as well as monthly writing guides laser-focused onto specific wordsmithing tools and techniques.
When not writing, Bodine can usually be found in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes, or else playing story-heavy video games with her husband. They share a home with three utterly spoiled fancy rats and two small dogs.
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?
T.L Bodine: I’m by no means the first person to go there – I think there’s kind of a whole mountaineering subgenre of horror at this point – but virtually climbing Mount Everest to deliver a supernatural thriller in Neverest was certainly a challenge for me. It’s about as far from my own experiences as a desert-dwelling couch potato as I can imagine. I usually set all of my work in New Mexico (because if Stephen King can put his home state on the map, so can I), but I couldn’t really put Himalayan horrors in the Sandia mountains.
In terms of things I’ve read recently, I think the most inventive and fascinating setting I’ve come across lately was T. Kingfisher’s Hollow Places, which takes place in a sort of liminal space between worlds. The design of it and the things that dwell there is so inventive and spooky and deliciously ambiguous that I find myself thinking back on it a lot.
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?
T.L Bodine: I am a big tea fan, and there’s usually a mug within reach on my desk at all times. Green tea, oolong, jasmine, even herb tea. The electric kettle gets quite a work-out because of it. My current tea obsession is a vanilla rooibos with a little splash of milk. Mmm.
Willow Croft: “Did you hear that noise?” Everyone, even us horror writers, have our night terrors. What is it that frightens you the most?
T.L Bodine: I had a dream once where I committed a violent act against a pet. I became aware at some point that I was dreaming, and comforted myself – “Shh, shh, it’s all right, you didn’t really hurt them, it’s just a dream. You can wake up now.” I woke up into another dream. When I woke for real, I spent a big part of the morning feeling this weird, unsettled disconnect. A part of me wonders, and might always wonder, what happens if I never wake up, and only ever awaken from one dream to the next. Or, worse, what if I convince myself I’m dreaming…but I’m really not?
Also making a mistake on my taxes. That scares me, too 😛
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?
T.L Bodine: Pretty much like clockwork, I hit a point around 20k words in to a new novel, where I come to a screeching halt. I lose all my momentum, can’t figure out how to move forward, and despair that I’m a talentless hack who will never have a good idea again. I let myself wallow in that for a little while. Then I get back to work.
Something I do for every project is spend a bit of time at the outset creating a little mental space for myself. I put together a playlist of music that I exclusively listen to while writing that story. I make mood boards and assemble art that resonates with the story’s aesthetic. I make a list of books and movies that are similar in theme, genre, or vibes. So whenever I get stuck, I go back to the source and try to get re-inspired by delving back into all of these materials. Usually that’s enough to drag me back out of the pit of despair.
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?
T.L Bodine: I’m a pantser who wants desperately to be a plotter. I really admire people who can come up with outlines and then stick to them. I’m someone who comes up with outlines and then immediately veers off course and ends up somewhere unexpected. Neverest was originally a period piece about two brothers, that somehow ended up becoming a contemporary story about a husband and wife! And there’s a revelation toward the end of that book that completely took me by surprise writing it. None of my characters behave themselves.
One day…one day perhaps I’ll learn the secret to getting my imagination to line up with my intentions.
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?
T.L Bodine: Someone who doesn’t mind leaving a voicemail, I hope. Let this be a warning to any ghosts, specters, and author folk out there trying to convey a message from the beyond: if you want me to reply, you really should just send me a text.
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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/.