The Spooky Six with Willow Croft and L. Marie Wood
After we returned from our impromptu trip to abandoned amusement parks all across the world, L. Marie Wood and I settled down with our coffees and had ourselves a cozy Spooky Six chat!
L. Marie Wood is a dark fiction author, screenwriter, and poet with novels in the psychological horror, mystery, and dark romance genres. She won the Golden Stake Award for her novel The Promise Keeper. She is a recipient of the MICO Award and has won Best Horror, Best Action, Best Afrofuturism/Horror/Sci-Fi, and Best Short Screenplay awards in both national and international film festivals. Wood, a Brand New Weird nominated author, has penned short fiction that has been published in groundbreaking works, including the Bram Stoker Award Finalist anthology Sycorax’s Daughters and the Mocha Memoirs Press anthology SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire. She is also part of the 2022 Bookfest Book Award winning poetry anthology, Under Her Skin. Her academic writing has been published by Nightmare Magazine and in the cross-curricular text, Conjuring Worlds: An Afrofuturist Textbook. Wood is the founder of the Speculative Fiction Academy, an English and Creative Writing professor, a horror scholar with a PhD in Creative Writing and an MFA in Speculative Fiction, and a frequent contributor to the conversation around the evolution of genre fiction. She has been recognized in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 15 (2004) and as one of the 100+ Black Women in Horror Fiction (2018). Wood serves as a mentor with the Horror Writers Association and enjoys helping people lean into their craft. She has been an author guest of honor at the In Your Write Mind conference and her work is part of the horror archive at University of Pittsburgh. L. Marie Wood is the horror track director of the Multiversecon Convention. While she reads widely, Wood enjoyed a good mystery as well as horror titles. She also enjoyed interviewing her friends to find out how they approach horror writing and the genre in general. Learn more about L. Marie Wood at www.lmariewood.com.
DISCLAIMER: L. Marie Wood is a major sponsor of the website. This interview was conducted PRIOR to the sponsorship being put in place, and the interviewer had no knowledge that this sponsorship was in the works.
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?
L. Marie Wood: A closed amusement park. Some kids sneak in, hang out where they’re not supposed to be, and, well… 😊 The short story, called “A Bat out of Hell” was in a collection called Carnival of Horror that I edited years ago for CyberPulp Books and it was a lot of fun. It’s neat to think about innocuous settings in a different way… to turn your head to the side just a little to see things differently.
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?
L. Marie Wood: Good thing happens? Crab legs. Bad thing happens? Crab legs. I will eat crab legs anytime I can get my hands on them. That’s my comfort food for sure. I also love a cup of coffee any time of the day as well – the caffeine doesn’t keep me up, so I can drink this and go right to sleep. Those things put me in a comfortable place (though, not together…) and I like being able to access that calm regardless of what has gone on during the day.
Willow Croft: “Did you hear that noise?” Everyone, even us horror writers, have our night terrors. What is it that frightens you the most?
L. Marie Wood: Ha, ha, no. I shall not name mine. I don’t talk about it. I don’t write about it. No need to give it voice… at all.
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?
L. Marie Wood: Oh, yes, but for a specific reason. When I started my family, I just couldn’t write horror anymore. At all. It was scary because I worried that it was never going to come back. I mean, I had writer’s block for something like 6 years, give or take! Fear of not being able to do the thing I’ve loved since I was 5 drove me to write articles for my local newspaper. I ended up writing about school activities, community events, parenting, gardening… gardening… which I knew nothing about. I forced myself to research and write just to keep doing it. I wouldn’t let myself consider that I might have to write gardening articles forever; I just kept doing them until one day, a spooky thought came into my mind. One of those old ‘what ifs’. And just like that, I was back!
I think it is important not to force yourself – the pressure doesn’t help. Let yourself process and recover, do things that keep you even, and see what happens.
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?
L. Marie Wood: I am a pantser through and through… and I love it. It is who I have always been, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. My advice to fellow creators is that they should lean into who they are. That might be all pantser, all plotter, or a combination of the two and that is fine. Embrace it and stop fighting your own process – your work will flow easier once that obstacle is cleared.
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?
L. Marie Wood: It would be Prince on the other line, and I hope that he would say, “Ok, good. What’s next?”
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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/.